To whom it may concern,
This is an open letter to my family, to my friends, to my coworkers, to my peers, and to the world.
You all have enriched my life beyond measure. I feel that it would be irresponsible to not address a delicate issue that rest between us, softly in the folds of our interaction together. Some of you know this, and some of you choose to ignore it, and for others it hasn’t become an issue and the subject hasn’t arisen.
You need to know this because it’s who I am.
I don’t intend for that to sound cliche either, because it isn’t something that I chose to become. I have chosen a lot of things in my life, but this isn’t one of them. It is fundamental to my being. In truth it is where my whole being springs from. I can not be removed from it.
If it were to be removed from me, and I from it, I would cease to be as I am.
I am gay.
I know in so many ways that this is common knowledge, but I need to write this because there is still that place in me that is afraid, that fears your rejection. That place in me that wonders that you may not love me when you realize that this isn’t a phase.
To be honest, you have every right to think that it is a phase, since I have been coming in and out of the closet for ten years. I wish that you could understand that this was the result of my fear, of my wanting you to love me.
I still haven’t changed my Facebook orientation because I fear the reaction that I may get from some of you.
I’ve come to this place with myself though. You know that place when you finally start to feel comfortable in your own skin? That place where you don’t try and “cover” your mannerisms. (I use to fear that I was too effeminate for you.) That place where you’ve moved mountains, and crossed valleys inside of yourself and that your own approval is more important than anyone else’s.
The discomfort of oneself is not just a “gay” experience.
It’s human. It comes with self-acceptance. It comes with putting down the god damn rule book, and asking yourself what you need to do despite everyone else’s opinion. Having fully come out of the closet almost a year ago I can tell you that it has been worth every awkward moment. It was worth losing my father over, and being estranged from his children. It’s worth my mother not asking detailed questions about who I’m going on a date with.
It’s been worth everything I lost because I’ve gained my integrity, my self-respect, and the ability to love myself. It’s worth every piece of pain because today there is this inner knowing, in my gut, that I am on the right path, and that that path is divinely guided, and guarded, and that I need not fear because I was created in the image of the Divine.
That I share my breath with the Divine.
If you take anything from this letter I hope it is the understanding that living for other people is a prison that kills. I spent several of my adult years a using drug addict. I used drugs to kill the pain, to hide the shame, and to export the guilt. I didn’t realize that I was exporting my soul, that I was ignoring the beautiful tapestry of my manhood, of my gaiety, of my queerness.
Today I stand before you a proud gay man, a man who is embracing all of the facets of his being: the light and the shadow; the hot and the cold; the masculine and the feminine.
My freedom rises from embracing who I truly am.
The journey to freedom is through living authentically. It’s not a gay thing, it’s a human thing. When we live authentically we are empowered to live the life that we want to live, a life where we are comfortable in our own skin. Those that would tell you to confine yourself, or those that seek to constrict you into their ideals, are burdensome, and are a sickness to the soul. The soul wants nothing more than to express its deepest self in the present moment.
If we are pretending to be something we aren’t, or trying to live a life that someone else told us was the only way to live life, then we are creating a schism between our minds, our bodies, and our souls. We become disillusioned. We live a life devoid of soulfulness. We live a life devoid of meaning.
I’m begging you to be authentic.
I’m begging you to throw out the corroded rules and set yourselves free.
Come out of whatever closet that you’ve been hiding in. Destroy the closet. Tear down those four walls and extend yourself the grace to walk into the sunlight of the Spirit, and live authentically. Closets aren’t just for sexuality—they deal with anything that we’ve been hiding from those around us in fear of rejection, drowning in shame.
Liberate yourself, for yourself. It makes everything worth so much more.
With deepest sincerity,
Author: Jacob Crisp
Editor: Renée Picard
Image via dbnunley at Flickr