Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reflections Of Becoming Ultra

In the beginning, as a young gay man, I believed the best of everyone. No one would ever lie, cheat, steal, hurt, use or abuse me or another. Everyone, as far as I was concerned was honest and worthy of trust, friendship and respect. I grew up in the country, in a very small, close knit community. To say I was naive would be an understatement. I was raised to respect others and their property, to treat people the way you wanted to be treated, to help others when you can. School was a breeze for me academically. I had no trouble making friends, they were people just like me, from the surrounding area, my parents knew their parents. It was really quite idyllic. When I got to high school, I was exposed to people from a larger area with different views, standards, and upbringing. I adapted and realized that not everyone was the same and paid no never mind to it. In high school, I begin to work part time at 16 in town at a local department store chain. Wow, the difference in people were startling. I worked 20 to 30 hours a week, went to school, still made good grades and even had a few extracurricular activities to keep me busy.

I told my parents in 9th grade I was gay. Of course, they thought I was confused and would out grow it. We never really spoke of it then. Obviously, I haven't out grown it and still speak very little of it. They have more or less accepted it, my father a little more so than my mother at times. But I was never threaten, thrown out, attempted to be converted. Overall, it was a great childhood and transition to young adult. As most of my readers know, I remain very close to my parents to this day.

I did out grow my naivety. People did not always treat me as kind as I would have liked or expected, but I toughed up and survived. I realized that even close friends or lovers can and will do things that will hurt you, physically and emotionally. I was gaining real world experience. There were times when I was shocked at these behaviors, but forgave them. That was how I was raised. I once overheard an acquaintance tell another that I was weak for being so forgiving. It was my best friend, now deceased, that rose to my defense, stating I was more human, more man, than any one he had ever met in his life before or since. That made me smile and feel really good, not only about myself, but that my friend saw those qualities as something noble and to be defended. I never have forgotten that and try my best to maintain that standard in my life. I'm sure I fall short, but I do give it my best.

I write this because in chatting with old and new friends, I've come to appreciate something I've know all along. We are all human. We all feel the hurt, the pain, the discomfort, the awkwardness, the heartache, the betrayal. We are not alone in these experiences. We are a community of diversity, but also of amazing similarities. We shouldn't sell ourselves short as a community or individuals. Our greatest strengths lie in forgiveness and love and truth, of ourselves and others. I discovered many things the hard way growing up gay in a small town. I now try to offer insight and advice to others in an attempt to stave off the potential jading experiences. I'm sure some wish I would shut up and mind my own business. The future mental and emotional health and well being of our community is my business. At my age, they represent my future and I no longer hesitate to speak when I see the need. They are free to use or disregard accordingly, but I will have done my part to make the world a better place.


Russ Manley said...

Fine thoughts Dave, and an admirable character as your friend said. You add a lot to our community.

Cubby said...

I love that you are trying to pass your wisdom on to others. I think I'm still naive even at age 44, but I thank God for it.

Anonymous said...

Dave you and I are mroe alike than I even thought My parents and I are extremely close. Did they wanat a gay son and no legacy to follow. I do nto thing so. I am named after my father and his father, which makes me a 3rd. To have a heir to the throne would have made my Dad even more happy than he is now. But everyone knows I will not have an heir. My sister loves me the way I am . She did not ask for a gay bother, but still loves me for being Ray.

I have to say I take off my hat to you, for opening up even more than I would have. Trust i nyourself and trust in the world, there is good out there if you look.

Hope you have sweet dreams tonight.

Lemuel said...

Some wonderful thoughts in this post, Dave. As you shared your journey, you called to my mind my own. Among those thoughts that you shared that touched my memory were your thoughts about your friend who stood up for you. I too had such a friend. I met him at age 7 on my first day at a new school. We rarely see each other now, but we keep in touch. We have so for over 55 years now. His birthday is coming up. I already have his card.

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