Let’s Not Talk About My Pink Underwear

Let’s not talk about my pink underwear. I get it. I know. You know me as what I present on a daily basis. I am strong, and solid, and masculine. So, when you see the minute stash of panties I keep hidden like a bad secret in the back of my dresser, you joke, and you whistle, and you laugh.

But can we not talk about my pink underwear? That they feel as out of place against my hips as his hands always did. The way they speak to a box I no longer fit in. I am not comfortable in them, but still, they sit there behind boxer briefs and black tshirts. I am not me in those underwear. I am not the strong person you know, and it’s odd that some fabric that no one else will see can do that.

Let’s not talk about how they threaten my masculinity. And how they make me feel like less of whatever I am. Those pink underwear that wear me like a stranger. Like someone I don’t know who’s grabbed me on the bus. Like the men who shout homophobic slurs at me at four in the morning when I’m just trying to get home.

I wear my masculinity like a badge. I am proud to fall into whatever category you want to define my presentation as. I am not here to make you feel comfortable about my gender. I find so much solace in my androgyny, so much strength.

No one fucks with the girl with a crew cut, and damn, does it accentuate my eyes. There is no reason for me to lace my keys between my fingers on the walk back to my apartment, not on the days I’ve donned scuffed jeans and dark leather boots. Not when my shape has been covered by three layers of shirts. But I’ll tell you, on the days I wear the pink underwear, I carry extra keys. I carry extra bullets. I carry an extra hardness in my eyes, and my heart. I ask a boy to walk me home. I hunch my shoulders, and dip my head.

There is too much vulnerability that come along with those underwear, too much room for error. And that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. So let’s just ignore my damn underwear.

God

Let’s talk about two of the five things you don’t discuss at dinner parties: God and gays. I know. I heard you cringe. I get it. Calm down.

Being a Christian and being queer has proven to be more of a challenge than just being one of the two ever was. You get attacked on almost all ends here. Your ‘re gay, so no one assumes faith in Christ. Your friends (who for some reason are mostly agnostic or atheistic all together) will question your sanity due to your god, and your fellow Christians will question your righteousness due to your biology.

There is no way to win here.

The first time you go to Bible study as an “out” queer person, I hope they don’t try to save you. I hope they look at you, and see the light of God in your smile, in the way your courageously volunteer to pray at the close. I hope they see you. And if the group leader comes up to you afterwards, and talks about Leviticus, the healing power of Christ, and loving the sinner but hating the sin, calmly remind him the Jesus Christ is your savior. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Remind him that you’re trying to make peace. You do not have to show them that your love for your God is authentic. God knows. He loves you.

When they tell you you’re sinning, remind them that they can only cast that stone if they stand before you pure of heart. I swear, they drop the rock every single time.

If they question your faith, tell them that Christ left you two commands. Love God. Love everyone else. Love them. Even them.

Ask your God for the serenity, courage, and wisdom. Understand that you will not change some people. That’s all right. Your God is for you. I promise.

When you are out to coffee with the cute girl from your chemistry class, and she asks if you were raised religious, do not allow your heart to jump through that pain of sheet glass when she replies “But you’re so bright?” to your meek “Yes, I still am.” Understand that your faith does not negate your intellect. Understand that it does not negate your sexuality.

People will see what they want to see. Some will see Christ in you; others will see you only for the gender you love. Don’t let what others choose to see in you define who you are.

Don’t back down. Don’t give up. Your God throws mountains into the sea. He has overcome this world.

Coming Out

I am gay.

I have, by far, the most saccharine sweet coming out story. I come from a very accepting (and relatively knowing) family. I grew up in a small town that values standing by your people over traditional ideals. It wasn’t hard for me to be out and at home after I left for college.

I went away to school, came home maybe a month later, looked at my parents over dinner one weekend and said “Guys, I have to tell you something.” They gave me their full attention, and when I told them I was gay, my poppa told me he was proud of me, and my mama told me she knew. They said they loved me, and that was that. They’ve always supported me, and they raised me understanding that they’d love me no matter what.

I started to come out to the people around me after that, some friends from home, members of my high school groups, my grandfather, and my pastor among them. I was met with the same response from all parties. “We love you. We support you. We’ve known.”

My sexuality came as a shock to no one. Maybe I should have been a little indignant about that, but in all honesty, I was just relieved. I was relieved that nothing was going to change because I was gay.

As much as I hear the horror stories about coming out, as much as we hear how awful it is for some members of the community, know that it isn’t like that for everyone. Some small towns are coming around. Some people find love everywhere they turn. I hope this becomes the story for most, as time goes by. I hope that no one has to come out, eventually. But for now, take some solace in the fact that a small town in Ohio is learning, and loving its children all the same.

I Won’t Let Go

I published this to Tumblr a while ago:

I lie awake at night and wonder if things would be different if you were here. You make me want to be next to you, to feel the thud of your heart next to mine. I want to hold your hand while we regale stories of our lives to one another that we’ve already told. I want to listen to you tell them over and over even though I know how they end.

I want to sit next to you on the floor, our backs pressed against the sofa, arguing over who should get up and flip over the record, because honestly it’s just been spinning for the last five minutes, no you get up and change it. I did the last one. I want to put my head in your lap, so you can shield me from all that is dark. I need to know that all is not lost, that you have not gone. It’s become cold again, and there is no shoulder here for me to bury my nose in, so it can escape the harshness of winter.

Occasionally I think to myself “Where is he? What is he doing?” I know you feel it too. I know because you tell me. You do not do the typical male thing and act like you don’t care. You don’t wait around for me to say it first. You just say it. And I love you for that.

And one morning, I’ll get the call. “I’m here.” You’ll whisper into the void that stands between us. And I’ll rocket from the warmth of my bed to see you. You’ll be standing in the lobby, snow in your hair, cheeks red from being bitten by the wind. I’ll turn up the collar on my sweater, and guide you back into the cold.

But the weather won’t matter. The time won’t matter. The fact that I didn’t even bother to change from my pajamas won’t matter. Nothing matters when it’s you and I together. Nothing matters except together.

Together.

I don’t understand why we aren’t there now. I don’t understand why it hurts so badly. We parted, and I lost part of myself. No, it was taken from me. We left each other, and part of me was stolen, and replaced with part of you. That’s what we do, you and I, we take parts of each other and try to construct the other out of the jagged, broken pieces. Please, watch your step. There is glass everywhere.

I can see you in the jokes I make. Or when I hear the song, you’re there. And it makes me want to smile so big that my face cracks, and it makes me want to shout my anger from the mountain tops to anyone who will listen, and it makes me want to curl into myself and sob until I have nothing left, but tear stained cheeks and exhaustion to pull me out of this place without you.

I don’t understand. Help me to see the growth. Guard me from the people trying to tell me that absence will make my heart grow fonder. I cannot be any fonder. You are my brother. You are my family. You are a piece of my soul. And you are missing from me.

And it hurts.

I need to know that there will again be a time where we are together. Where it is you, and I, and some old Beatles record floating softly through the air while we breath in that funny offbeat unison we pick up when we’re together. I have to know that there will again come a time when your shoulder is there for me to hide my face in from the cold.

You are the light at the end of this tunnel, and I can barely see you. You’re there, and I know because I can feel your warmth.

So, just keep running my way. Just keep headed in my direction, and I will continue to sprint in yours, arms open wide. ready to embrace you, and hold you, and tell you how beautiful you are, and how much this experience has made you into a better man, even if you can’t see it. I’ll tell you everything we are too afraid to say out loud. And I know you’ll say it back.

That’s how this works. That’s why this works.

You are me, and I am you.

Until our paths cross again, and the weight of the world is shared between us, instead of having to bear the pain alone,

I love you. I miss you. Hold tight, I’ll be right there.

100

I was born a hundred years old. I am now, and always will be a hundred years old. No one seems to understand this concept.

I am very old. My mind is very old. I think I got it from someone else, because they were all out of the new ones when I was created. I think they grabbed an old one and called it a day. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I know me. I am fully confident in who I am as a human person. I like my personality, and myself. I like things the way they are.

But I am a hundred. I don’t comprehend jokes the same way as my peers. I don’t understand the social cues or conversation that they partake in. I can’t be a part of the things they want me to be a part of because I am too old.

Being a hundred makes being a college student very difficult. I have no inclination to do normal college student things. I cannot relate to my peers in the slightest. I find myself searching out other very old people to befriend. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be overly plentiful.

My people from home are old like I am. Whether they were born that way, or life made them that way is their’s to tell. I love them, because they understand that I can’t do things the same way other people can. I can’t bring myself to try and explain these concepts to the new people here. It’s too difficult and they tend not to understand. And that is painful to explain, and watch them not grasp it. And that makes me very sad.

I am perpetually a square peg in a round hole. I am okay with that. I just wish there were more square pegs to talk to. I’m sure I’ll find them. It’s just going to take longer than I’d planned.

Take Care

I wrote the last post about my tribe. This one’s about them too. What can I say? They’re damn important.

Life is so completely terrifying. Junior high was ridiculous. High school was a sprint, not a marathon, like we were led to believe. THe fact that in two weeks I have to move to a new city and live with three new people makes me feel so completely alone. I know I’m not, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can feel the darkness closing in, and I’m suffocating. I know that when I resurface things will be different. I’ll be different. My perspective will be gawky, and bleary, and new in all of the good and bad ways that it can be. The best I can do now, is hold my people as close as I can when all I want to do is keep them at an arms length so my chest doesn’t hurt so much.

I can’t do that, because we have to take care of the people we love. No one can do any of this on their own. Take care of your people. Laugh at their dumb jokes. Feed them when they’re hungry. Hold them when they cry. Realize that you have people in your life who want nothing more than to see you happy. A lot of them would do anything to make that happen for you. They squash down their own discomfort for you to be happy. They step out of their safe place to please you. They genuinely take interest in things that you care about, because they care about you.

Not everyone is going to love you every time. Some people though, they’ll love you all the time. Find people who love you, and take care of them. Let them take care of you.

There is a way to tell if the friends you have are these people that I write about. Imagine your worst day. I know it hurts, but just try. Imagine yourself at your absolute lowest point. Are these people that are willing to sit next to you on the sofa in your worst moment, and watch bad TV, and pass you kleenex, and just hold your hand while you lose your mind? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found them.  Congratulations.

It took me three years of junior high, and almost four years of high school to find these people. I’m not sure where I go from here. I’m not sure how I form relationships like these. You see, I lucked into these relationships. These people are good, and wonderful, and kind. They take my feelings into account. They take me feelings onto themselves in an attempt to make my shoulders a little lighter. They don’t have to, they just do. I am surrounded by people who have been sown together at the broken ends.

Find the people who you love, and who love you, and take care of them. Understand what they need. Hear what they say to you. Reassure them that they are not alone. Take the time to tell them you love them, because for a lot of us, in two weeks it all changes. Take care of them because they make life more bearable. Let them take care of you.

Tribe

For four years I did my best to push through high school. I tried to only get as close to other people as absolutely necessary for survival. I wanted to get in, do well in school, and get out.

Just keep looking for the light. The light that is college, and interesting people, and intellectual conversation. Just keep searching for the light. There has to be a way out of this tunnel.

And I made it. I survived high school. I had a few friends, and managed to alienate everyone else. It was a very successful experiment in social interaction. Except then they came along. They came along with there similar taste in television. And their complete openness to everything. They just go around loving me for no good reason. And the two of them who won’t be moving into college dorms on August 24th are going to tie me to this town. This town I tried so hard to escape, unscathed. They’re just going to be here, caring about my well being and making sure I’m happy. Nate’s going to be too far away for everything. I mean, honestly, what were we thinking? And don’t get me started on Goose. She’s just going to move to Akron and we’re going to be more than five minutes away from each other. That’s just no good.

I don’t want new people. I don’t want forced intellectual conversation. I don’t want the light. I want them.

I need them. I can’t even begin to fathom not having them at every turn. And sure, I’ll meet new people, and I’ll have cool things to do with them. But nothing will beat spending Friday night at home, talking over a movie in our pajamas.

In our own completely ridiculous way, we’re a family. I love them. I’m not sure I can handle leaving them too.

Our parents spend the first years of our lives raising us into people. They hope that they make us functional enough to move on and find our own tribe.

I’ve found them.