by: Timothy Lalowski
Nine months before I was born, my city-raised parents decided to move to a farm in Sycamore, IL in order to house the multiplying amount of children. And so my life began. I was an energetic child, a characteristic that will always be prominent in my persona. I loved to run around outdoors, jump in the mud, roll around in the grass, bang pots together in the kitchen.
Yes, I was rowdy. I also had some very unique characteristics that nobody else in my town had. My voice was about an octave above all the other boys, even exceeding the limits of the girls in my class many times over. I was very particular about my clothing and loved wearing button ups and khakis to elementary school. At one point, I went through a bell bottom phase. Quickly, it became apparent that I was better at getting along with the girls than the boys. All my friends went by names like Sarah and Cindy and Annie.
Sometimes, I don’t know why nobody took me aside and told me earlier. Sometimes, I don’t understand why it wasn’t so obvious. However, I guess in towns like that, they don’t see what’s staring them in the face: I am a flaming homosexual.
Coming from a religious family, I experienced a great deal of inner turmoil upon realizing that I was gay and spiraled downward into the abyss of eating disorders and self-mutilation. However, that story is not this story. Eventually, I came out. I came out to myself, my friends, my family; I came out to the world. Having been out for many years since, I have had much too much time to analyze my process and how it was successful. Here are my tips:
The first and most important step of coming out is to claim your identity. Figure out who you are and then love it. Embrace it. This is the longest process but the most beneficial. You can find replacement friends, acquaintances and even family if it comes to it, but you can never escape who you are so don’t try. “Baby, you were born this way.”
Make sure you are ready. This is a large package you’re carrying, especially in some of the small towns everyone reads about in the news, banning this and banning that. Don’t come out too early: there’s going to be a lot of stress involved. Come out when you’re comfortable, when the time is right, when you feel you have the support you need. Nobody knows you better than yourself so this is for you to decide.
Who is the one person in your life you can trust most? Or, who are you not going to give a fuck what they think? I tried both strategies and was fairly successful. However, losing that person you trust most can be quite damaging. I would have a practice run: some Chatroulette or whatnot. Also, you can just text a random number and be like: “I’m Gay!” or “I’m a big ol’ queer!” Get used to saying it. Feel comfortable with the words. Say it out loud, in front of the mirror when your parents are too far to hear you. Write it down one hundred times, over and over. Type it. Think it. Love it. That first live human being that you tell will be an experience like no other: right before, a thousand needles stuck into your left eyelid; after the words come out, a dove lifting your heart into the sky.
Backlash in small conservative communities is inevitable. Bullying is inevitable. But realize, those people are fucking idiots. Find an outreach program. Make a pen pal. Go online, research the queer community and learn about allies. Join Trevorspace, follow queer blogs, follow my blog, follow In Our Words. These people are amazing. They have so much love to give. Take that love. Accept it. Because, honestly, you’ll have it.
Now, there’s a lot in the news about homo-bashing, murders, etc. Sadly, this is real life. Sometimes, there’s a lot of crazy in the world and people do terrible things. Do you feel safe where you are? If not, there are people you can talk to: authorities, local and national. Remember, your life is precious.
Some will reject you. It may be your classmates. It may be your best friend. It may be your mother and father. Rejection is something we all fear from the day we are born. We want to be loved. Well, let me remind you: you are. You are loved by somebody, whether or not you see it. Whether or not you love them back. You are loved so much. Rejection will pass. People will come to realize, to see past. Your parents will begin to soften, to accept you back into their lives, even if they don’t agree; it’s what parents do. Your friends will grow up, mature, get cultured. The rejection won’t last very long.
My advice is to learn from the best: Drag Kings and Queens. These are some of the most empowering people I have met. They go out every day with a flaming torch of queerness, and they proudly wear that like a silver and diamond tiara. Be proud of who you are. I love you all, and I hope you find the support and hope that you need, and remember. We are here to love you for all that you are. Come talk to us, we have emails, and blogs, and mailing addresses and faces to talk to. We will be there.