I didn’t come out until I was twenty-seven years old. Sure, everyone knew I was gay, including people on Mars. Yet, I didn’t actually say the words out loud to my family until later in life. To add insult to the story—or perhaps comic relief—I came out to my family drunker than shit at a female strip club. What can I say? I’ve always had a flair for the dramatics.
I don’t know what had come over me. Actually, I do. I was miserable at the time. Miserable with the guy I was dating (though, he likely would have called it stalking), miserable with my job, miserable with not being able to talk to my family about my real self. Just completely miserable in life. Luckily, I’d found a bar that started serving alcohol at seven in the morning. As a result, I made a list of everyone I needed to call (parents, brother, aunts, uncles, grandparents) and promptly told them through slurred words that I liked men.
Look, before I travel too far down this road of self-pity, I want to make one thing very clear: I’m blessed. Not a lot of people have the support I do, and I’m so grateful for that support. My misery was coming from within myself. And, eventually, life went on and I became less miserable. After all, isn’t that what life is? A constant flow of ups, downs, turns, and if you’re lucky, a morning trip to the strip club?
The first time my mom visited me in San Diego after my big reveal, we didn’t really discuss my news. There wasn’t any sort of awkwardness, just neither one of us bothered to bring it up. Maybe we didn’t need to. This led my best friend—and roommate at the time—to inform me that I had two personas: the real me and the me around my mom. Or, in her blunt language: the real me and the less gay version of me.
All these years later, my best friend’s words have stuck with me. Why? Because I never want to be anyone other than my authentic self. Good, bad, ugly (oh, honey, there’s been lots and lots of ugly), I always want to be me—no matter what. What you see is what you get. No secrets, no surprises, no lies. And at all times and areas in my life. Whether I’m at work, visiting with family or friends, shopping at my local Trader Joe’s, sitting in front of strangers, waiting in line at the DMV, or hell, at the strip club, I. Want. To. Be. Me.
Because I am that way, or at least constantly strive and practice to be that way, I expect other people to be that way, too. Unfortunately, this has led to headaches and heartaches. Many headaches and heartaches.
I will never understand—nor want to understand—why people, specifically gay men, can’t be themselves. Okay, maybe I understand a little bit. Hello, drunk at a female strip club on a Friday morning, coming out to loved ones. Still, why can’t gay men at least be honest and upfront with others about their intentions? Is that so fucking hard? To not play games or give the runaround or blatantly lie?
Life is too damn short. It’s not fair to waste someone else’s time. And it’s definitely not fair to lie to someone, lead them on, keep secrets, and/or cheat. It’s very, very cruel and selfish. Seriously, how do some men do all of these awful things and still manage to look at themselves in the mirror every morning?
It’s sad. It’s depressing. It’s pathetic. It’s infuriating.
Simply put, how do some men walk around with two personas? It drives me krazy. And then men wonder why I am krazy when they’re the ones who literally sat behind the wheel and drove me to the destination.
I’ve been in therapy since September. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: Why in the fuck did I wait so long to seek treatment? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I’ve consistently been putting in the time and working on myself since last fall, and there’s still one big lesson I have yet to master: Just because I think or feel a certain way doesn’t make it right or universal.
For example, I may think sexting is a form of cheating, but others may not.
I may think it’s unnecessary to look at and download porn several times a day when you’re in a relationship, but others may disagree.
I may think it’s wrong to be on Grindr, Scruff, Snapchat, or any app that allows you to chat with other men and receive naked pictures from these men if you’re in a supposedly monogamous relationship, but I might be the only one. (Side note: I really do think—and hope you all agree—that when you’re in that supposedly monogamous relationship you definitely shouldn’t be on Grindr with the tagline, “Sit On My Face.”)
I may think it’s unfair to lie to your partner about being on PrEP, but others may feel differently.
I may think it’s crass and just plain wrong for random guys to show their assholes on Twitter, but . . . You know what? That one is pretty fucked up and everyone should agree with me.
Additionally, if you’re in a relationship, then you probably shouldn’t be following your local Starbucks barista on Twitter or Only Fans and know if he’s circumcised or not.
As I said, I’m still learning this lesson, but I think—I hope, at least—I might be getting closer to grasping it.
Something I’ve had to accept recently is that everyone has his or her own set of values. My values may not—and likely will not—align with everyone else’s values. That has to be okay. I’ve discovered that fighting this will only make me miserable. Who wants to go through life being miserable? Been there, done that. Plenty of times.
The only factor we can control is surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, with people who have the same or similar values as us. Sure, some values can be skewed or compromised on, but some are—and should be—etched in stone. There are boundaries or deal breakers in every situation and relationship. Recognizing those boundaries or deal-breakers is important.
Additionally, these values are why it’s necessary to be honest with everyone from the very beginning of meeting them, so you can avoid a potential problem later on. No lies, no secrets, no hidden agendas. No cheating. No multiple personas. After all, that is the bare minimum of what we owe anybody: the truth. Regardless of what it looks like. As such, we won’t waste their time.
When we don’t tell people the truth, we rob them. We drive them krazy. The same outcomes occur when we don’t tell ourselves the truth. We rob ourselves. We drive ourselves krazy. And for what? What’s the point? All that robbing, all that krazy . . . It’s exhausting and depleting. It’s no way to live.
Again, life is too short.
Life is too damn short to be a liar, a cheater, and a manipulator.
Life is too damn short to gaslight someone, to deceive them of who you are, to hide your true intentions.
Life is too damn short to be anything other than authentic.