It's easy to forget--maybe even preferable--what it was like to be that kid, coming to terms with his orientation. I was that kid, now, about two decades ago.
This was the closest picture I could find to the time; me at 15:Sure, I may look gay then; just keep in mind it was the 80's.
Some explanation: It's nearing my parents' birthdays, and the boys were coloring them each a picture. They are adorable works of art, of course: Alan fishing with grandpa, Brian in a field with grandma near a very short rainbow, and so on. When they finished, we decided to look for a frame in our cupboard of memorabilia and I came across a clear reminder of those bleak days.
A stagnant stream; I can remember this exact moment. I took this picture in the undeveloped lands just behind my childhood home. I remember walking to this stream, each step counting off a "This isn't happening; I'm not attracted to men", as if the more I reran that fiction in my head the more it would be true. I was completely alone, knew no other gay person, and I was a melodramatic mess, so much so that it's kind of funny to me to think of it today.
Once it hit me that I'd come out of puberty unlike any other kid I knew, I spent most of my free time in places I knew I'd not see another person. I'd walk for hours though the fields and mountains trying to distract myself with photography. But by the tone of the pictures, I apparently didn't escape the mood:
a foreboding dead tree...
Ruins...Is it just me projecting, or is that mood almost too on the nose :-).
Oy, and after the melancholy photography, then there was the angry industrial music.
I guess the stages of grief are supposed to be:
I kind of went 1, 4, 3, 2, and then 5.
I began composing some very angry music, aping bands like NIN. I hated myself; I hated the way I was treated by my local culture; I wanted out. Hard to believe, but it really is a bit amusing in retrospect, to look back on such fury. My intractable problem was merely a period of work. My doomed soul and bleak looming future was just a phantom. My parents, who, to my great shame, I was sure would not love me if they knew me, were still my parents. In my defense, I didn't know what it was like to love as a parent back then, but still...
I wasted years being either sad or angry, years most people look back on with fondness. Young gay men of the world, don't do the same. It may seem impossible, but there is a way through. You may think you've lost something in your familial future, but it will be there when you're ready and all the more precious. You may have been cheated and lied to by leaders you thought you could trust and a culture of which you thought you were a part, but nearly no human leaves their life without hurting a person they imagined they were helping. The intent isn't there and the anger does nothing to help you find peace or help them find what's right. I know it's hard to let it go, and you really shouldn't in full; indignation can get some things done. But when it has nothing to get done, when you feel it when you are alone, late at night, it'll just eat at you.
I'm glad to have to work to remember those days.
Anyway, I took those pictures out of their frames. I scanned them into my digital life record, and there they'll sit, on my hard drive. The frames will be given to my parents on their birthdays, with the drawings my children made for them enclosed. Sure, I love it when the poetry of the universe is subtle and complicated, but I don't mind when it's blatant, cheesy, and sentimental either; not at all.