Things That Go Bump
BY Advocate.com Editors
September 21 2010 5:10 PM ET
Excerpt from Chapter 12: Demons Inside and Out
The feeling was probably always there, but for the longest time I didn’t know what it was. I was attracted to females, but every so often I was also attracted to males. Growing up I didn’t think it was unusual. In South Carolina, I still felt like a kid at eleven or twelve. I was very innocent, and didn’t even know what a bisexual or homosexual was. We never talked about it, and so I never knew I was “different” or in the minority for being attracted to both sexes.
That changed a bit when I was thirteen and lived with my dad for a year. In the small Pennsylvania town the kids threw around terms like “fag” or “homo” and it was clear that a fag was something you didn’t want to be. I knew it was derogatory, but it didn’t click with my own feelings.
When my grandfather, the one I looked up to, found out a cousin of mine was gay, he refused to let him into their house. I remember my dad saying, “No son of mine will ever be gay. He’d be out the door and I’d never talk to him again.” He said it loudly and proudly to the rest of the family. I remember freezing, because in my teens I began to realize that my heart and hormones didn’t really discriminate a gender when it came to attraction. It was only then, that I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me.
I also asked myself what kind of world are we living in where your son could be a murderer, and that’s more acceptable? Even as I reached fourteen, I didn’t label myself. I just went with the flow. If I liked someone I liked someone. It was only when I started seeing things on the news that I really started to understand the social implications. I saw my fellow Christians waving “God hates fags” banners around. Then I saw the grotesque photos of Matthew Shepard, a gay teen who was beaten up and left for dead by a fence. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t.
I’m out to my parents now. Telling them was awkward, not so much because of my orientation, but more because I had to talk about my feelings at all. My social life, romances, were never something I discussed.
As I write this, my paternal grandfather still doesn’t know. Part of me still wants his respect, perhaps in part because of the sense of isolation I felt after my childhood paranormal experiences. But so many people struggle against this kind of prejudice that I’ve decided life is too short to hide who I am for anybody.