Own Your Life
BY Charlene Strong
November 16 2011 1:50 PM ET
Putting one’s experiences on paper can bring a light that has not been considered before. This is just one of those moments. Now is a time to share. I lost my father over 15 years ago and it was the catalyst for dealing with my personal homophobia and pain.
I was holding my Dad when he died, his once handsome face was being ravaged with the very visible cancer that literally ate at him with a very cruel suffering, the likes of which I hope to never witness again.
When I laid him back in his bed for the first time since he was admitted a month earlier, the machines were all turned off, the quiet a gift. The calmness that came over me was strange, just an hour before I was screaming into a towel in the bathroom begging for the suffering to stop. Was it that someone heard that scream and silenced the struggle? I removed his St. Christopher medal to give to my mom; as I sat quietly in the room with him until the funeral home came to receive his body; I felt clarity of needing to make some changes in my life. I felt at that moment that I was moving through life without any life. I was onto my second marriage and my husband was nice enough, but by writing that assessment I knew my days were numbered on this one.
I rushed into this marriage after much heartache. My first marriage was a sad and damaging moment in my life. I married a very handsome young man when both of us were far too young to know who we were. Had we spent time in the same city while engaged perhaps we would have figured it out. That’s really just conjecture so we married.
Shortly into our marriage the intimacy stopped and the more I pushed the farther he pulled into his own world. I would sit up wondering if he were ever coming home and calling the state patrol to see if there was a truck in a wreck that matched the description of his truck. When he would arrive home he would often be bedraggled and not in the mood for explanations which only fueled our arguments.
Finally one night he told me he thought he was gay. It was not what I had expected. I didn’t want to know that this hunky man I married wanted anyone, but me. Being the good Christian I was, I set about to pray the demon away in him while he slept. He had said that he didn’t want to be gay, so I could fix it.
Okay, I couldn’t fix it. For that next year-and-a-half we fought like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, it was ugly and, goes without saying, frightening. See AIDS was just being understood and I knew he was out in bars, and it was obvious he was feeling his sexuality. Was he being safe, was he planning for encounters? I had no way of knowing and the fights continued and the fear in me escalated, to a boiling point. I found myself hating him and hating gay people.
Our fights led to an explosive exit and I never looked back. I was so hurt and frustrated and disgusted by his gay life and lack of concern for my health. Had my rush to be loved become my death sentence? How dare he expose me to his life?