I couldn't help but think of some similarities between Seung
and my former self. I never had violent tendencies, but I was very similar. I would go to Elementary School, High School, and College and be the biggest loner. I never walked the school's halls with friends. I would be in the library at a table by myself studying. I would eat at the cafeterias and dining halls at a table all by myself. I never talked to anyone. I didn't have any friends. It is very striking to read the similarities of my social skills growing up to that of Seung
Often, I would wonder if I ever got married would anyone sit on the groom's side for me? Or if I died, would anyone show up at my funeral? I even had a teacher recommend counseling when I once wrote a paper about my greatest wish was "to have a friend". Of course, I never did go to counseling. I knew that no counseling in the world could instantly help me get a friend. I was trapped in a horrible and painful cocoon that I could not find my way out of. The only one to truly help me out of the cocoon was going to have to be me.
Sadly, I was incapable of coming out of this impenetrable
shell because I knew I was VERY DIFFERENT. If I made eye contact or tried to talk to others, they would immediately reject me because I was gay. As the only gay person I knew, I thought I was a freak of nature. Back in my days at a rural school, being gay meant getting beat up. It was scandalous and life threatening to be a gay youth. No one must know. No one must find out.
That all changed when I came out in the early 1990's. Thanks to Kevin
, everything changed in my life. I discovered other gay people. There was a whole community around me, but I didn't even realize it. I was happy. I was among other gay people just like me. I often felt like this marked my "real birth". This was my real life. That past life of being friendless and gay was someone else's
life. When I came out to my family and co-workers in 1997, I felt such utter joy and happiness. I could finally stop living a lie and let them see the real me. When I think about where I have come from and where I am now... I can only smile and be proud of my progress.
HOWEVER, I still have a ways to go. I probably attach too much of my identity to being "gay". Just this morning, I became keenly aware that I am still the same boy that sometimes doesn't talk or make eye contact with anyone. Everyone at my gym is very hetero, young, and good looking. I guess I am scared if I said "Hi" and introduced myself, they would immediately reject me. As soon as I gave my last name, they would know who my father is. (He's very well known in the Parish) They would then narrow it down to me being the gay son they hear about. Why am I still scared that they will immediately reject me? At this point... I should be over it. Yet for some reason, being comfortable with everyone knowing that I am Brett the homo son of So and So
is something I haven't been brave enough to conquer yet. It is the last vestige of my difficult childhood that I haven't completely expunged yet. That should be
It is weird too. At the gym, I see other guys look at me as if I am an oddity. They are so curious as to why I am so quiet. They are curious why they never see me socialize with others or hear my voice in the gym. I see those looks. Today, I caught several looks that made me feel conscientious that maybe they think I am like Seung
. It embarrassed me. In light of all my progress in life, why can't I be as comfortable in a gym with hetero strangers as I am in other places?
As I was leaving the gym, I picked up a Muscle Milk and a protein bar. The young girl at the counter said "I'll put this on your account." I begin to read her my account number on my gym card, but she interrupted me with... "I know your name and got it taken care of." I asked "You know my name?" She smiled and said "Of course I do! You are Brett _______. " I could only smile.