I was raised with faith – Roman Catholicism that is. When I was figuring out my sexuality, I was lead to believe I was going to burn in hell before I even got out of bed for having desires. Back then, they weren’t even desires – hell, I was 8 or 9 years old. Do you even have urges at that age? I just knew I was different from the rest of the small pack of students I was allowed to play with. The boys played their sports games with the other boys at recess, whereas I choose to play with the girls. What games we played, I do not recall. I just knew I was more comfortable with them than I was with the boys who seemed (forgive me Sister Eileen) hell bent on winning.
My eighth grade graduation was a turning point of sorts. No more nuns, no more priests, no more going to church every Sunday to go through the motions of an hour-long Mass of sitting, standing and kneeling. It was June and in 1986 fashion (before I appreciated what fashion was), I didn’t want to graduate in the typical blue blazer and plaid tie. I forced my Mother’s hand and picked out a suit more appropriate for the day – a la Don Johnson on Miami Vice.
White pants, white lace up Capezio shoes, pastel colered shirt, and a stop sign red jacket to tie it all together. I had been to my Mother’s hairdresser that day and he Aqua-Netted my hair into a pre-Donald Trump do guaranteed not to move even through a hurricane. Suffice it to say, I stood out like a Pink Flamingo at a Pigeon contest receiving my diploma. The girls thought I was awesome, the boys were jealous, and I couldn’t see any of it because I refused to where my Coke-bottle glasses as they would ruin my new look. To the dismay of the Nuns, curious looks from other parents and stares from my school mates, I proudly walked up to receive my graduation certificate.
High school began in June of that year as was the custom and I found myself in a completely different world. My parents, long since divorced, could not agree to send me to another private school, so I found myself among the masses of teenagers who weren’t sure what was going on or where they were supposed to be, myself among them. Gym class proved my breaking point. We were supposed to choose what we wanted to take, and there was quite a variety. But no matter which I choose, I still ended up in a locker room with the other boys changing and showering. I felt extremely uncomfortable, yet I still wasn’t completely sure why. I just knew that I should not be in a room full of naked and half-naked boys bantering about who was the best hitter or kicker or whatever, when all my eyes seemed to do was glance towards their mid-sections and feel embarrassed because of it. Shortly thereafter, I ditched gym clas altogether, having a family friend who happened to be a doctor write notes for me, excusing me from the rest of the classes. This same doctor, along with the help of an over worked secretary in the Principal’s office, kept me out of gym class through the remainder of my years in high school. They offered me swimming; I quickly produced a note saying I was allergic to chlorine. They offered me softball; I got a note from Dr. Magic saying it was bad for my back. The secretary I worked for loved it, I did her job in place of gym class and she got to take lots of coffee breaks. In doing so, I was able to divert my (I then thought) misplaced feeling for certain boys whom, shall we say, exceeded the others in the locker room and not necessarily in gym class.
This went on until graduation, (which I achieved with honors), and it wasn’t until years later, I began to question the FAITH I had been reared to know. If I was GAY, I’d burn in hell before I woke up. Had I chosen the path that had been laid before me, I probably would have married the one girl who had gaven me a “hickey” before I was 14. As the sands drift down to 40, I find myself wondering which path would have been better… a life of perfect lies, or my life of imperfect appearances.
Which path would you have chosen?