Stepping into the Fog:
A decade ago…
A sea of foggy mist lies before me. I am blind. I move slowly, hesitant, uncertain. I hear my heart beat. Pounding. My fingers are extended in front of me, but the fog is so dense I cannot see them. I whisper to myself, “How long have I been traveling like this? How long have I drifted through this haze?”
I whisper back to myself, not wanting to scare the stillness, “For awhile now”.
At some point, I stop, and hesitantly look over my shoulder. I think to myself, How astounding! Behind me, I’m amazed to see the white sea of mist no longer exists. I discern my path with crystal clearness. I see, where my feet have touched, is a wake I have yet to mourn.
Opportunities for lasting relationships missed. Friends lost forever, detachment from family and friends, a past filled with hate and anger, of sadness – loneliness. A past, at times, riddled with a begging for death but never fulfilled. A past filled with a yearning to belong. Belonging to a group that will accept me for me.
At this point, where I have stopped walking, I am merely 30. In that moment though I get it. I’m Gay. I accept it. I also discover something, … I want … NO – I NEED-a community. I need other people. I look around me. I wonder. Where do I step now?
A plethora of questions fill my head.
Why do say gay pride? The answer is whispered into an ear, “Because we have taken a path many never will.”
Why do we never say, ‘That’s so Straight!’, but always say, ‘That’s so Gay!’? A breath pushes through haze, “Cultural bias.”
Why is the default heterosexual? Why is it heterosexual versus non-heterosexual? How come we don’t say gay versus non-gay? “Because we have yet to accept gay people in their entirety.”
Why don’t we ever ask heterosexuals if they’re sure they’re heterosexual? Why must gay people always be expected to answer this question? Isn’t the answer obvious? “It is.”
I ponder these questions. I look over my shoulder. The past.
All of sudden I mourn the times gone. I mourn the twenty year-old I met in college who flirted with me but I ignored because I was terrified. I grieve never talking to the young man who I saw in the elevator. Our eyes had fixed and my heart skipped a beat. I was too scared to talk to him though. I lament never dating a single person in San Francisco though I lived there for five months. How many times did I turn my head away? Too many to count.
I look forward. I see nothing but whiteness. Behind me, the past speaks to me. I hear voices of people I once knew. Now gone. Some friends. Some not. I had looked up to some and some I never did. Some people I loved who spoke negatively on queerness, a handful spoke about it favorably.
Every one of them used a language carved out by a heterosexual culture.
A tear escapes my eye. I cannot go back. That time is past. I must move forward. Now, though, I will walk deliberately, intentionally, and I will hope.
I raise my foot and step forward. My foot jolts on the ground. The future is unknown. I must learn who I am. I must learn to untangle the language I’ve learned. It’s so powerful — language. It has carved my identity.
I will learn a new language, something that affirms me. Something that makes sense. A queer affirmative language.
Who will I find? Is there a community for me? Yes. There is a community for everyone.
Will I find people whose language is an affirmation of queer identity? I hope so. I have to.
I’m not just carving a new identity just for me. No, you see, I’m tied to a world that is carving out its own identity. It’s learning to one with the queer community too.
I step forward …
Bryce B. Summers, Ph.D., Psychologist
Author of Queer Sense (A book coming soon).