This was difficult to write, and may be difficult to read. Before we get started, I would like to offer a trigger warning to anyone experiencing addiction/depression/self-harm/suicidal thoughts or anything of the like. For those of you that might be confused about your sexual identity, I want to hear from you. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, let me be that person.
This is my story. It’s a tiny fraction of the portion of the experience of what it is to be LGBTQ+, but this is my experience with growing up gay.
By the way, all of the names in this post are aliases
Let’s start at the beginning. The first time I fell in love. Her…yes HER name was Diane. I blame Disney films, and of course patriarchal society, but Disney was really confusing for me. I saw these films and saw the dynamic of the Prince and the Princess and knew that I had to find my Princess; I later realized that I wanted to be the Princess…
I was seven years old. It was a fast love…literally. We were running to P.E and I ran next to her and said: “Diane, I love you.” She responded with “What did you say?” Our romance was real.
I was deep in the closet, so deep that I didn’t even know of the closet’s existence. To say I was confused is an understatement. But, I was able to discern what was “normal” so, I made calculated moved to make sure that other kids knew that I too was “normal”. I can remember sitting next to a particularly gossipy girl in class and I started writing on my binder “I ❤ Vanessa” because I knew she would look to see what I was writing.
“VANESSA?! YOU LIKE VANESSA?! OH MY GOD.” I looked at her with false chagrin as if this whole thing wasn’t premeditated. “Kayla, please…please, whatever you do, do not tell the entire school about this.” Perfect.
I think most queer kids learned how to be a sociopath growing up. Clearly, I was no different. I had a knack for seeing patterns and behaviors of my classmates, which came in handy trying to fit in. But, no matter how hard I tried, I was still different.
This happened a lot. Before I got called “gay” or “fag” I was told I was different. Not necessarily bad, but definitely different. Like, we don’t know what to label you so for right now we’re going to slap this “to be determined” sticker on you until we figure out what you are. So to make up for being so different, I needed to be popular. Even going so far as to joining the Asian Heritage Club claiming that my distant relatives were Korean. Look, I was desperate…
My grandmother was one of the only ones in my life that recognized me for being different but praised me for it. I can remember her pulling me aside after I told her I was having a hard time at school and telling me, “You’re different love, there’s no doubt about that, and there are people that will probably give you a hard time for it, there’s no doubting that either, but being different is what is going to make the world fall in love with you. Give it time.”
My grandmother passed away when I was thirteen. I still miss her every day.
That was a very difficult time for me. Because believe it or not, prior to puberty I knew that I was straight. I would fantasize about titties and get all giddy. No seriously, I would actually be aroused when thinking about women. SO, you can imagine my surprise when I turned 13 and started seeing dudes in an ENTIRELY different way.
My Sexual Awakening
The first time I was exposed to sexual content was a pornographic movie that I downloaded BY ACCIDENT. Remember LimeWire? For those of you that don’t, LimeWire was an application that you could download to your computer and in addition to the thousands of viruses and malware now hard-driving themselves in your motherboard (I don’t know a thing about computers), you could also download free music. FREE MUSIC?! This was the greatest thing since naps.
Sometimes things would get weird though. Usually, it would be the song that was labeled, but sometimes it would be a loop of former President Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with that girl.” But, this one time…I tried downloading Men At Work’s Land Down Under, but it was taking a terribly long time to download. Right about when I was about to give up, the download finished. I pressed play and up popped QuickTime player. This isn’t the Down Under I wanted but damn did the men plunder.
The memory is still so vivid because even though I wasn’t fully aware of what sex was, but I knew that this was a naughty thing to see. The scene started with a man and a woman seated across from one another at a long dining table when a young waiter or butler type individual offered them champagne. JUMP CUT, everyone is naked, the woman is being fucked by her husband reverse cow-girl, and she was pouring the champagne down her tits so that her body was a flesh luge for the young waiter who was awaiting the delivery down by her pound of pubes…I’m guessing this was a video from the 80’s.
It was incredibly exciting.
My Homosexual Awakening:
The Whole Ten Yards, the sequel to The Whole Nine Yards, were movies about the crazy adventures that happen when a dentist gets roped into his new neighbor’s illegal mob lifestyle. The two leads were Mathew Perry (playing the dentist) and Bruce Willis (playing the Mobster).
There is a scene where Bruce Willis and Mathew Perry wake up in bed next to each other. I can remember thinking oh my god what is happening to me, then Bruce Willis stood up and you see a beautiful shot of his butt, oh…oh my. Picture this: you’re in grade school and they’ve just introduced letters to math, then they ask you to take a calculus exam. THAT IS HOW HARD I WAS.
This was the first time I had seen two men in some sort of sexual context. And there was no going back after that.
Then Things Got Really Dark
I didn’t want to be gay. No one in my proximity or even my vicinity was gay. I just wanted to fit in and this was a clear indicator that I was irrevocably different.
There was one out gay guy at my high school (that I was aware of) and he was a year or two older than me. He was dared to kiss the captain of the football team in exchange for MDMA and gay porn mags, this was 2009, porn on the Internet was readily and willingly available, but regardless of why he did it, he did it. And then he was beaten pretty severely by members of the football team.
So clearly, being gay was a bad and dangerous thing to be. I trained myself to talk straight, stand straight, think straight, walk straight, eat straight, and laugh straight, every extension of my personality a façade built out of fear. Oh and I dated women, but not just any women, the “hottest” women that I could convince to date me to use as a beard. But, no matter how hard I tried; I would have thoughts that felt like a lightning strike because of how quickly and forcefully they entered my headspace. Those thoughts would usually be something like this:
One of my best friends early on in high school was this blond-haired, blue-eyed, super intelligent boy, with a thin scar that started in the corner of his right eye and fell down to his cheek. Wherever his career path led him he could always fall back on being a sexy Bond villain. We’ll call him Ben.
- Ben: Hey Wolfie, what do you want to eat?
- Wolfe: Oh, anything man. Pizza?
- Ben: Cool yeah, pizza sounds great! By the way, how did you do on the English test?
- Wolfe: I’m not sure. I think it went alright. KISS HIM, KISS HIM NOW. GRAB HIS FACE AND KISS HIM.
This happened a lot. I would always be so “surprised” when it happened. Whoa, that was so weird, I’m not attracted to men where did that come from? But of course, it kept happening, even though I didn’t want it to.
I was also convinced that something had “made me gay” so I tried everything to reverse it. For instance, I took testosterone because I thought that by having sexual attraction towards men, I was inherently feminine, so I would take testosterone to make me more of a “man”, which would chemically alter my brain and redirect my dick towards women. I actually thought this. And yes it backfired, all it did was make me breakout like crazy and hornier for guys.
I was sixteen, and deeply depressed. A doctor suggested that I start taking Prozac, but not to worry because lots of kids have the “teenage blues.” Yeah…yeah! That’s all this is, it’s just depression, that makes sense! So I started taking the drugs, and those drugs, and those drugs, yeah those ones over there too and washing them down with alcohol when it was available. Except for pot, they were all prescription drugs, so get this, I didn’t think I had a problem because how could medicine make you sick?
At this point in my life, I was also very religious. Praying almost every night for God to take away these thoughts, to help me fit in. I also cried myself to sleep more often than naught. I was afraid. Terrified actually. I contemplated suicide, was harming myself, and in a particularly low moment, branded a cross on my arm as a pact with God that if I did this, he would take away these thoughts.
He didn’t keep up his end of the bargain.
From that point on I turned my back on organized religion and shut myself down. I was less than human. In attempting to get rid of sadness and depression I also accidentally threw out everything else, relinquishing joy, excitement, love…everything that makes life worth living. I became an anesthetized version of my former self. So, to try and feel something I drove my car off the road. I aimed for a wall but swerved and hit a curb going 50mph.
I do not know if this was a suicide attempt. Yes, I know that is confusing. And yes, I wanted to die, but more than that I wanted to feel fucking anything, please just let me feel something again. It was some sort of fugue state; I truly did not know what I was doing. I was driving home from a tutoring session and a voice in my head said: “do it, go, do it now.” And I did.
Luckily, I am not a very good liar and my parents saw through my “a dog ran across the road” story. I started much more intensive therapy and got sober…ish. I was prescribed Xanax and still drinking so even though I wasn’t using as heavily, I still relied on that coping mechanism.
Okay! High school was admittedly terrible, but now I’m at college. It’s a whole new world here, no one knows me, and I could totally reinvent myself…except, I went to university ten minutes away from where I went to high school. BUT, I was determined to turn over a new leaf, put all that gay shit behind me.
So I did one of the straightest things I could think of…joined a fraternity. What could convince people of my heterosexuality more effectively than an institution built on boozing and getting your dick wet in the vaginal canal, and I was going kayaking god damn it.
This severely backfired. I wanted to fit in, but in order to do so here, I had to jump through a lot of hoops and morph myself into something completely unrecognizable. Even my girlfriend noticed, “You completely change when you’re with them, or when you drink.” The saddest part is, that was a complete surprise to me. I was past confused and had entered the lost territory.
Don’t get me wrong, some of my closest friends I met through the fraternity, and several of the brothers I could call up right now if I needed them, and they would be there. But, fraternity life as a whole was so incongruent to who I am that I forced myself even further inward.
After being dumped by my girlfriend I went on a bender, for uh…well, a few months. I’m an addict, I have known I have had an addictive personality since I got my wisdom teeth taken out when I was 15 and would steal extra Vicodin and would replace them with Ibuprofen.
There was a saying at my university:
“You’re not an alcoholic until you graduate.”
It was so easy for me to keep my drinking habits under wraps because everyone was binging. Granted, I was definitely on the extreme end. My day would start by opening a fifth of Southern Comfort and a can of Rockstar and pouring myself the trashiest of white trash cocktails. I would finish most nights by finishing the bottle. My bed looked like a maroon galaxy, overlapping stains of blood that came from constantly abusing cocaine and speed.
I was a mess, I needed help.
One night, I was blackout drunk and pretty deep into an 8-ball of cocaine. I remember calling my brother. I was crying for some reason. Then I remember my parents coming over. I was inconsolable, and out of my mind. I told my parents that I was gay and collapsed into another fit of tears. This was the first time I had said the words “I” and “gay” in the same sentence EVER. Even in my mind. I know you may not believe me, but I wouldn’t even allow myself to think it…but, on some level it was always there. I always knew.
I don’t remember anything after that. I woke up the next morning at my parent’s house. I may be paraphrasing but the conversation went a little bit like this.
- Parents: We need to talk
- Wolfe: About what?
- Parents: about the fact that you are gay and addicted to drugs
- Wolfe: WHAT?! WHO SAID I WAS GAY? AND I’M NOT ADDICTED THEY JUST MAKE ME FEEL NICE. JUST BECAUSE I CAN’T GO A DAY WITHOUT THEM DOESN’T MEAN I’M AN ADDICT.
I moved in with my parents and amazingly, still attended school. The day I came out, February 11, 2014, was the last day I consumed alcohol. It took me another year to get clean from the other drugs. But now, I am completely sober and very gay.
It has taken me a long long time to accept myself and even longer to love myself. I had to pretty much reprogram myself; I needed to unlearn everything I was taught to see as “deplorable behavior”.
My name is Wolfe. I’m a gay man and I am so proud of the beautiful people I stand with this month of Pride. Come join us, won’t you? Whenever you’re ready, there is an entire community waiting for you with open arms. I love you.
Much love & many adventures,