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sometimes it take some time

Honestly this isn’t something I ever intended to share with ANYONE, let alone put it out into the world for public consumption, but a dream last night inspired me about the importance it still holds.

No one should ever have to hide who they are. No one should ever hold shame in who they are. The world is filled with a cornucopia of people from every walk of life. The world is filled with men and women; cis gender and trans; old and young; gay and straight; Muslim, Christian, Jew, Agnostic and Atheist; Conservative and Liberal; and everything in between.

The point? We all are NOT the same. None of us. We may congregate to groups and individuals who are similar to us in certain ways, but they are not going to be like us in every way. We function as a society by acknowledging and accepting these differences while also recognizing we are all human beings and deserve the dignity and respect of others as such.

Too often in the “media” our differences are pointed out and accentuated. That is part of what continues to divide our society. We are constantly reminded of “us” and “them.” We are all US!

For most of my life, I grew up in a small, rural, conservative Christian community. I knew exactly who I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do. From birth to death it was all mapped out. Inside, however, I knew something was different. I didn’t want to acknowledge that part of me, and I pushed against it for the better part of my life. Whenever it was brought up, about me personally, I deflected.

Deep down, I knew it was wrong. Inside of me I knew I didn’t agree with what was being said or spread, but I had to stay at arm’s length—for self preservation. I’m gay.

I have even shied away from saying that here or posting it as my stats on Facebook because of what “others will think.” How will my family react? How will this person think of me? How is this going to affect me? I changed it several years ago, but still worried.

That said, it has ALWAYS been a personal struggle—even before I acknowledged my “personal struggle.”

Growing up, I knew my piano teacher was gay. Yes, he was married. Yes, he had a children. Yes, he was active in his faith. However, I knew he was gay—even though the subject was never broached in circles of family, friends, or others. When he came out… it was like the entire universe shifted—against him. Suddenly MY sexuality was in question. Did he do anything to me? Certainly, he couldn’t be my piano teacher anymore. He couldn’t even live in the same community anymore because of the stigma against him.

In high school, our volleyball team was second-to-none. I mean that. We took the state championship every single year in women’s volleyball. Why? Because they had an awesome coach who put the most talented girls on the team. Until… She. Came. Out… As a lesbian. Suddenly everything about her came into question. Had she abused her power? Had there been any inappropriate contact with players? Should she be in the locker room? Was any of the “glory” worth it?

I struggled with both of these people and the issues surrounding them—to the point that I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper. I was a devout member of my conservative religion. I was intending (at that point) to do everything I was expected to do as a part of my faith. I was a member of a faith choir and in local youth faith leadership positions. At a point of all this “chaos” my father was the local faith leader. That said, I knew what was happening was not right.

I could not, I would not, stand by while this affront against good people of the community was happening. I posted about the volleyball teacher. I talked about my piano teacher and how he had NEVER done anything to me. These were good people in the community who happened to be gay.

I “happen” to be gay.

I couldn’t do it. For most of my life I let the “secret” eat away at me. Even, when my brother came out (something I knew but didn’t “know”), I kept my secret locked away.

When I finally decided to “selectively” come out, I was very judicial in my revelations. When my brother “confronted” me on Facebook I still avoided the conversation. This had more to do with my relationship with my brother at the time than anything else (and is the subject of another potential post).

The whole prompt of this post is the next subject, however.

There was a friend of mine (who shall forever remain nameless) whose reaction was not at all what I expected. This was the friend, of everyone I knew, I was least afraid to come out to. That said, they also didn’t live anywhere close to me (states away). While I was not afraid to come out to them, because of the close nature of our relationship, I also didn’t want to come out via email or voice message—take your note of the methods implied in that timeframe.

After months (and months) of intentional coming out, the “right opportunity” never presented itself. Even after and in-person meeting where I thought it WOULD happen—the time just didn’t work out (again, another blog post). Ultimately, I decided it was well-past time so I ultimately made my out-of-person “confession.”

“I’m going to need some time,” was the response I received.

What!? Are you kidding me? You are the person who I THOUGHT would have the least issue with this, and THIS is your response?! Thanks for putting me back in the closet!

This is a person who I TRULY thought would be a non-issue. This was a person who had lived with gay people. This was person who lived in the “gayest city in America.” Of everyone in my life… THIS was the person I was least worried about telling.

So, far… this was the WORST reaction I received from the people in my life.

That said… being a person I valued immensely in my life, I decided to give them time.

About a month later I received a call. My heart was pounding. Should I even answer? Just let them leave a message and go from there. Against all my apprehension answered.

“Hey,” I heard from the other end.

“Hi.” I responded, not knowing what to expect.

“I’m REALLY sorry about how I reacted last time.”

“It’s fine.” I didn’t know what else to say. Where was this going?

“Look… It was a shock to me.”

“I know. I get it. I wanted to tell you… so many times. I can’t tell you how many times. That is SOOOOOOO not how I wanted it to happen. You have to know I didn’t want it to be in an email. I didn’t want it to be in a letter. I didn’t want it to be on the phone. I WANTED it to be in person. I just kept hoping for the perfect time, but that NEVER came.

It was more important to me, for you to hear it from me than from somewhere or someone else. So… I decided it HAD to happen. You have to know… that is NOT how I wanted it to happen. You were the person I was LEAST afraid of telling, but the chance NEVER came up. I wanted to tell you last time you were here.

We had lunch. Remember? I was planning to tell you then, but there were so many other things happening. At the end, one or both of us had somewhere to be, and I thought ‘there isn’t time to start this now.’ So, I didn’t.

But, I really wanted to. I didn’t want to wait one… minute… longer. I also knew it wasn’t something to end on… “oh… hey… btw… I’m gay. See you next time.”

“I know. I love you. Thank you. I know it wasn’t easy for you. It’s just… I DEFENDED you. People always asked and I said, “No. he’s not. Trust me. He’s not.”

“I know.” I said. “I understand. Here is the only way I can explain it to you. I didn’t WANT it to be true. I didn’t BELIEVE it to be true. I HONESTLY believed it was not true. In my head and in my heart… it was not an option. It WAS… NOT… TRUE. Because of that, when I denied it to other people, to you, it ABSOLUTELY WAS NOT TRUE.

I knew it was out there. I knew people were gay in the world. I defended those people—people I didn’t even know. For ME… though, it was NOT an option. So, for me… it WAS NOT true. If it wasn’t true for me, how could it be true for you? When I was denying it, I was denying it across the board. I did not believe it was true for me. I did not believe it for myself. How could I believe it for someone else—even my best friend.”

“I know. I understand that now. I was so angry. Then someone said to me… How could he say it to you if he couldn’t say it to himself? It took someone else asking the question for me to understand what a big deal this was for you.

I’m so sorry. I made this all about me and my issues instead of you and what YOU were going through.”

“I can’t tell you how hard the last month has been. YOU, are the one person in my life I wasn’t worried or afraid about telling… and then your reaction…? We haven’t talked in a month. I didn’t know if we would ever talk again.”

“I know. I’m so sorry. It wasn’t about that. I love you more than that. I just had to deal with the emotions of the past. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.”

“It’s OK,” I responded. “You’re here now. That’s what matters. You didn’t abandon me. I KNEW you would be there for me, and here you are.”

“I love. I love you always.”

“Thank you. I love too. Thank you for calling me back. I’m SO… so sorry it took so long. I’m SO … sorry it wasn’t in person. I’m just… so sorry. I WANTED to tell… you… FIRST! I can’t tell you that enough. You just weren’t here. But… I wanted to tell you before ANYONE else. It’s just…”

“I know. I know. The circumstances weren’t right. I appreciate you wanting to tell me in person and I am glad you finally just decided to do it.”

“I couldn’t wait any longer. I just couldn’t. It had already been too long. I had already planned for it several times. I wanted to more than anything. I also loved you too much to do it like this. I just… I just couldn’t wait any longer. I HAD to do it before you found out from someone else. No matter what else the circumstances, I didn’t want you to find out from someone else. I’m so sorry. I just had to be THE ONE to tell you.”

“I know. Thank you. I love you.”

I have sobbed (uncontrollably, multiple times) as I have recounted this event. By far… even more than coming out to my family… THIS… is the event that has caused me more pain than any other.

My point in this story is not to focus on the pain involved. My point is, I still consider this person on of my best friends. My point is… no matter the hills, and struggles, and sorrow involved… Whether it is this (or any other issue in your life), the people who are truly there for you in your life are going to show up for you.

The people who really love you are going to be there—no matter what. It may take them “a minute” to figure things out for themselves, but they are going to be there. The people who show their true colors and remove themselves are not worth your time. It WILL be painful (on both sides) but lean into the people who REALLY love you. They will be the ones who are there… yesterday, today, tomorrow, and always.

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