if i could change #5.
by Michael King
“The process of discovering that you are different is always masked with the comfort of the status quo. You’ve always done something this way. You’ve always felt this way. It’s always been normal to you until someone puts doubt into your head.
“The moment I realized I may be different was some time in middle school when the word ‘fag’ was presented smack-dab to my face. The word stung the very bottom of my soul, the vehemence and malicious intent behind it bringing forth many emotions: anger, fear, sadness, doubt. That very word spiraled an analysis of all my past behaviors; it shook the very foundation of who I was. So much that I had an existential crisis at the age of thirteen. Is there something wrong with me? Am I normal? Are other people feeling this? Why wasn’t this a problem before? Can I change this? Hide this? Why me?
“I played it off like I assume many other gay men in their formative teenage years probably do: I bantered back with other slurs, shamed the gay community, and tried my best to be heterosexual in a world that demanded it. The heteronormative pull connected strongly to my cultural roots. As a Mexican-American young man, I was expected to be the utmost machista.
“When my parents saw my Internet browsing history, they brought me immediately to church. ‘You’re confused.’It’s the things you see on television that are making you this way.’ ‘Pray to God to fix you and take these evil thoughts of your head.’
“When I presented myself in front of the altar, I was an absolute mess. There I was, fourteen, thinking I was going to die and burn in hell for the rest of eternity. Didn’t God make me like this? I didn’t wake up and decide to be gay; it just happened.
“When I finally took communion, a wave of relief flushed over me. I would not call myself a spiritual person, but something spiritual told me everything was going to be all right. From this moment forward, I just took deep breaths and let happen whatever was to happen.
“As I reflect on the years of my life thus far, I’m filled with nothing but happiness. Being a gay man wasn’t too hard of a battle once I accepted it. I quickly learned that surrounding myself with people who love me for who I am was more beneficial to my well-being. I would never want to change who am I, nor the way I came to accept it, because my experiences made me who I am today. If I wasn’t gay, I’d be an altogether different man that may or may not be so willing to accept things out of the ‘norm.’ Sure, some people got hurt in the process, many were taken aback, many left my side, and many more held my hands through the journey. It all comes down to the quote that ‘those who mind don’t matter; and those who matter don’t mind.'”