Walking Between Worlds

March 8, 2010 at 11:38 pm (Walking Between Worlds) (, , , )

Making Choices:

Recently, I had a sort of heavy conversation with a dear, long-time friend.  He was talking with me about things that he can discuss only with me–namely the loneliness and frustrations he experiences due to the choices he made. Many years ago, because he wanted a child and wanted to settle down some of his wilder tendencies, he chose to marry.  He has lived as if he were heterosexual for many years.  As many of us know, it is very difficult to live in a way that denies who you really are, inside, in the middle of the essence of yourself.  There may, often, be rewards in a life partly lived, but there are always areas left wanting.  This was the point of our discussion:  how hard it is at times, despite the relative comfort and familiarity of it all, to deny a whole facet of himself daily, to live without the kind of intimacy, emotional and sexual fulfillment, and kinship that can be had by being true to who he is. 

I understand and respect his choices.  I am happy to be here for him when he needs to talk.  I hurt for him when he feels the strength of his longing to be himself.  I also admire him.  He is a principled man; he is, like many of us, old school in regard to things like integrity, honor, commitment, and keeping his promises.  He is a man of faith.  He loves his wife.  So, do I.  Still, I wish things could be different for him–for both of them.  We are in the South.  Things are different here; communities are small.  He does not have some of the options he might have elsewhere.  I know people who, similarly, have chosen to be celibate rather than face the issues related to their orientation.  Some are even living with their partners in celibate relationships.  These are their choices. 

There are many ways to be in the world.  There are many ways to process the factors of enculturation, religion, and the vast range of psychosocial influences that help shape us.

I grew up with many of the same influences, enculturations, and internalized issues as did the people I know.  But, I was–thankfully–stubborn.  Before I elaborate, let me first say, I have wonderful parents.  They were, however, products of their generations as well.  When they discovered that I was not dating the guys I hung out with and that I was, in fact, having sex with girls, they tried to intervene.  At one point, they even sent me to a Christian counselor in an effort to get me [literally] straightened out.  It did not work.  I would sit there in total silence.  The man would nearly beg me to talk and state his case:  that he could not help me if I did not let him.  I would advise him that, while I had issues, they were not what he thought they were, that I was fine with my orientation and did not need his help.  This was followed with:  “even if it risks your soul?”  My response:  “Yes.”

Somehow, I knew even then, in the core of me, that there were many ways to be a person and to be a child of God as well.  The theology of the common perspective never made sense to me and I refused to buy into it–even if it meant I might be wrong and would go to hell.  I began the long journey of working out the issues of identity, faith, theology, personhood and the ways that all of these relate to our becoming, to actualizing ourselves.  Within a few years of the various interventions, my parents had the sense to see that what they were doing was not working and ended up talking to professionals who helped them find answers.  They learned about human sexuality, about predisposing factors and human development.  They came to not only accept me, but to understand me and support me.  Many people I know and have known were not so lucky.  

It was, however, a long road for all of us.  I think the thing that, most clearly, saved me from worse roads than the ones I did take was that I was stubbornly sure of who I was and I refused to be moved on the issue.  I believed, in some instinctive way that was later more fully formed, that I was as I was meant to be:  that I was simply who I was disposed to be with flaws and worthwhile attributes like everyone else.  No more, no less.  I was not going to try to be someone else to make everyone else happy.  In addition, I had enough other serious things to deal with and work out that I made a choice to cling to the life raft of my sense of self–even if it was going under. 

I am very grateful that I had held my own in the face of forces and factors that tried to change me and alter my identity.  I would never have been happy had I succumbed to those forces.  My daily choice to be who I am, as well as to own and take responsibility for what is true for me, have produced some hard outcomes.  But, thankfully, most of them have been mine to suffer.  The ripples have been small.  I continue to strive to do no harm to others, at least.  And, the difficult results of my choices have brought meaningful lessons.  Some, honestly, I would rather not have learned at the time, but appreciate them now.  But choices bear outcomes.  It is part of making them.

The other side of the choice coin on this issue is one we know:  that silence makes it harder on those of us who do come out and who own who we are.  However, choices are personal and belong to the maker of them–even if the outcome affects others.  It is never the place of one person to choose for another.  Many of us remember the lives ruined during the awful era of self-righteous people outing others.  Where silence makes it hard on those of us who are out, choosing to live as other than who we are makes a bigger statement to the ignorant and simple-minded:  that sexual orientation is a choice, not an orientation.  Further, it suggests that it can successfully be changed. 

What is fascinating to me about this belief in the minds of the common person is that it misses the primary point altogether while attempting to use it.  The issue is not whether or not an orientation is a choice, it is that the choice is about whether to act upon who we are or not.  Often, the people who recognize this little fact still don’t seem to get it.  They act as if the choice is a simple thing like whether to have a burger or a hotdog for lunch.  The point of choice is whether to choose to be happy, to seek fulfillment and wholeness, or to deny entire aspects of who you are.  From this perspective, we can then acknowledge that heterosexuals choose to be heterosexual every day.  To say “I could never be with someone of my own gender,” is to choose a sexual identity.  This is perfectly acceptable.  It is as it should be.  All humans have the right to self-determination and the seeking of happiness.  But, for many people still, when we choose to own and act upon our natural orientation, we are held accountable in a very different way.  We are expected to correct ourselves.  For many unaccepting people, it is as if the right to seek real happiness is a right God-given only to heterosexuals.  Things have gotten better, but we still have a long way to go.  Those of us who choose to be openly who we are can hope that it does make it easier on those who come after us.

Being who we are–in any way–takes a willingness to be open to observation, examination, and possible disapproval.  The more different our personhood may be, the greater the risks.  I understand why people choose not to walk a path that will put themselves out there for the world to see and interpret.  I support the choices of those I love to walk in the world as they see fit.  We all make the best choices we can at any given time, about any given issue.  It is nice when people accept the choices I make to be true to myself.  It is, sometimes, difficult when they don’t.  Those are difficulties I am willing to suffer.  I cannot imagine anything worse–for me–than the kind of aloneness and emptiness that denying who I am would bring.  I hurt for my friend when he hurts.  But, I am also grateful that I feel able to choose to be who I am, love who I love and move in the world the best way I can having made that choice.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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4 Comments

  1. scintillectual said,

    Bear with me, sweetheart, I’m about to say something so unbelievably intelligent it’s going to blow you over. Ready? Okay, here goes: you are BLOODY FUCKING BRILLIANT! And that’s pretty much all I’ve got right now. Wow!

    • androgynonamous said,

      Thank you, sugar! I’m not sure brilliant is something I can live up to, but sooo glad that you enjoy what I write here. As you know, your opinion is important to me. I am so uplifted by your support. Talk to you soon, no doubt.

  2. Femme Gender said,

    Lovely piece, thank you
    fimg X

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