Thursday, January 29, 2009

Out of the Closet

Back when we were younger, people weren't "in the closet." That term never seemed to be used. Around 1971, I mentioned to my aunt that I had heard the word "queer" down the street. She told me to never say that word again. The first time I saw the word "homosexual" was in a TV guide for a program called Room 222. I remember watching that episode in my room with a kind of fascination, trying to figure out what "homosexual" really meant. Then there was the waitress at my grandparents' favorite hangout, Jean, a "lezzy" they called her. She would always sing along with the song Satin Sheets to the juke box. I was told not to hold much conversation with her because of the way she was. Then one of my friend's mothers ran off with "another woman." That was around 7th grade. I remember thinking, "Yeah, that makes sense to me," but not in a bad way towards the mom. I just plain made sense.

Tonight J and I watched Prayers for Bobby, a movie on Lifetime. It was very unsettling, but I wish everyone could see it. The movie made me realize something for the first time - in the whole five years that J and I were together, not once did we utter the words "gay" or "lesbian." I heard J say it for the first time about six months ago, and I think my mouth hung open LOL. In fact, if you were to honestly ask me in college, I would have told you those terms did not apply to us. I don't think I was in any closet - I think I was in a basement of denial. We always said things like, "We're not supposed to love each other this way," or "People don't understand us."

J will tell you that it took me absolutely FOREVER to consciously realize what she had been trying so hard to express to me. It wasn't until she gave me a book of poetry she had written for me that it finally hit me. I still remember the booth where we were sitting at Pizza Inn. When she gave me those poems I remember thinking to myself, "She thinks of me the why a boy thinks about a girl."

One night in my bedroom, we were snuggled together on my twin trundle bed, and we finally said it outloud. I don't remember who said it first, but we came to the conclusion that we were "in love." I don't mean romantic, walk down the aisle, live with you forever in love. I mean the deep, painful, Oh, my God, what the hell are we going to do now in love. I was scared to death. Not only had I never been in love with a woman (girl) before (16, 17), I had never been in love, period.

I don't believe most people fall in love that young. I don't believe anything in childhood or adolescence prepares you for that. For me, it was a kick in the gut, a time in my life that I always talk fondly about to J. But, truthfully, it was one of the most painful times of my life. Here I was, totally infatuated, and I will admit, obsessed with J, and I could tell no one. It seems so petty now, but I really wanted her to take me to prom.

I remember talking to a lady "mentor" of mine on the phone. I told her I was not doing well - I needed to confess something. She said matter of factly, "Oh, you don't need to confess anything to me. It can't be THAT bad unless it is one of three things - 1) You're a homosexual, 2) you're on drugs, or 3) you're an alcoholic." I told her it was none of the three. She said, "Well, then you're okay." I remember thinking that if "homosexual" is number one on the list, was that the worst or the second from worst?

Even today, I still think about going to hell and what it will be like. Will I say to myself, "Bring on the flames; it was all worth it!" Or will I be screaming in pain and agony for eternity, begging God for anothe chance? Truth is, I can't worry about that anymore because I am confident that I was born to love J - everything in my life before meeting her built up and prepared me for that. And my feelings for J will never go away - not with therapy, prayer, pills, or alcohol. And since God is my Creator and Father, he is always going to love me as his child. He may not like everything I feel or do, but he still loves me.

I did a lot of things in high school that I am not proud of, but the love J offered me was a gift, a chance to start my life over, truly feeling loved for the first time in my life. And I grabbed onto it and held it in my heart for 30 years. Even though I have her back in the flesh, if she left me tomorrow, I would still have her love.

I'm happy to say that, while I may still be "in the closet" to some people, I am no longer in the basement. And while the Bible may say that I'm going to hell, and there aren't any guarantees, I did everything within my power to chase away the love I have for J, and it always bounced back to me. I can no longer fight it. I did nothing wrong except try to be someone I'm not in order to avoid the inevitable - ridicule and blame.

For those of you who judge me, especially those of you in my church, God is about love; he is not about hate. God is about forgiveness; he is not about condemnation. Take a look in the mirror and tell yourself that you're better than me, and then look it up in your Bible where it says that.

My readers, may God keep all of you in his pocket.

1 comment:

Thelma and Louise said...

Girl! That sounds so much like us and what we've been through. Please go to http://soulforce.org and look at the Resources tab: "What the Bible Says". Read that PDF file. It will help you to understand and better defend yourself and your love against haters.

I have my closet door open now and am stepping out into the light. It feels pretty good!

Peace -