They Don’t Judge Me
I grew up in a rural area in Southern Oklahoma. So rural, there were only 18 others in my graduating high school class. I am also homosexual.
I won’t bore you with stories of all the torture I got during school. I was a “fag” to many, even before I was old enough to know what it meant to be gay. I have never been effeminate, but I was a small-framed, shy, sensitive kid. Maybe that’s what earned me that label.
I’m a grown up now and I have a great life. I have a good job, a good mate, a loving family, and good friends. You would think that a man my age would have moved past all the confusing emotions that come from not being heterosexual. Every once in a while, something happens that makes old emotions resurface.
A while back, I got aggravated seeing the Facebook rants of a (straight) guy I went to high school with. I decided to unfriend him (I never really liked him anyway). He noticed immediately, and sent me a message to question how I had the nerve to do that. One thing in his message stood out. He said he had never judged me. Reading between the lines, I could see he was really saying “how dare I unfriend him, after he had not bullied me for being gay?” (He never had, I’ll give him that). The obvious message was that he would have been justified to judge me, but he hadn't done so, which was a testament to his benevolence. I deleted it and moved on.
Some time after that, I got a phone call from an old school friend. We lived close to each other when we were kids, so we spent a lot of time together. We’d sneak cigarettes and listen to records. I really liked him, but we drifted apart as we got older, as kids do. I hadn’t heard from him in 15 years.
We had a nice talk on the phone. I’m not sure why he called me, but I was touched that he even thought of me after all these years. I found out later he was going through some personal difficulties; maybe he wanted to hear the voice of an old friend. As we were wrapping up the conversation, he told me that he had never judged me. I nearly dropped the phone. Without thinking, I told him that is one of the reasons I liked him. Really? Not only was another person saying that he could have judged me, I just agreed with him! Wouldn't the correct response have been that he has no right to judge me, because my life was as valid as his?
Maybe I’m reading too much into these encounters. Maybe my self-worth is not where it should be and I’m projecting my insecurities. Maybe I just like to feel sorry for myself. I really don’t think so. My friend’s choice of words said a lot, even if he doesn't know it. Many people in the world believe I am less of person because of my sexuality. They think I am possessed, evil, dirty, and worthy of death. Only a person with a heart of stone would never think about this. My heart is not made of stone.
One last anecdote. I just had to end a friendship with someone I hadn't seen in many years. He always introduced me as his “gay friend”. I told him I would like to be introduced as simply his “friend,” but he said he wanted to make sure people knew he was not gay. I guess there’s logic in there somewhere, but it escapes me.
He got violent with me when he was drunk and I had to end the friendship. I don’t hate him for it, because he has a serious alcohol problem. After I ended it, he called me a faggot. I suppose no matter what sins he commits, at least he’s not a hell-bound homosexual!
Times have changed a lot over my life. I could actually get married now. That counts for something, I guess. I just wonder what things would be like if scorn and disgust were not what people felt about me, even if it is sometimes hidden deep inside.