Jonathan Rauch has graced this blog before. Maybe, not in name, but in spirit. Ever since I read this article Caring for Your Introvert, I felt more confident in who I am as a person. I get more energy from being alone than I do from other people. A few weeks ago, he published a new book called Denial. For a second time, I have to thank Mr. Rauch for writing something that will shape the rest of my life (besides his many political pieces, which I find interesting and thoughtful). It will shape who I am today and who I will try to be in the future.
I have never written these words. They aren’t news to many people in my life. But here they are…I’m gay.
It’s a hard thing to write, even at thirty years of age. It isn’t shame or embarrassment that makes it difficult. My family and many other people have known for over three years now. But I’m a genuinely private person (even for someone who has a personal blog that he likes to write in). And I think I also still have a bit of shame about being different. And part of writing this is to stop with that shame, or at least slow it down.
When I first began to accept this part of me, I wasn’t liberated. I was a bit more scared than I was the day before. Rauch described it like this: “Imagine being born and raised in a dark dungeon cell, where you hear of an outside world but cannot conceive of a path to it; and then imagine the one day you put your fingers to the brick and push a bit, just the slightest bit of pressure, and all four walls of the cell simple collapse into the ground, and all traces of captivity are gone except the ones inscribed on yourself.” I have inscribed so much on myself that it is painful to think about. I put myself in captivity. I assumed that I could not be loved, that I was different, that I was a depressive who should be on his own, and that I don’t deserve to be happy. I felt safe in my surroundings. Like the Simon and Garfunkel song, I Am A Rock, I had my books and poetry to protect me.
It was easy to stay safe in the womb I built if I didn’t put myself out there. And eventually, I decided I needed to leave my safety net. And so I did. This is that story.
Continued in Part Two