Ok…so I’ve been watching Oprah. And much of what has been discussed over the past couple of weeks with the various guests she has had on the show has given me food for thought, as many of you who come to my classes can attest. Today’s episode, however, was somewhat of a wake-up call for me.
Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres’ wife, was on promoting her memoirs chronicling her battle with eating disorders, as well as growing up homosexual. She put it so succinctly when she said that she knew something was wrong with her when the fantasies that she had about how she envisioned her relationships with her closest friends of the same gender were unrequited. That was how I first clued into my homosexuality. And as most gay people do when they are painfully young and dealing with an issue of this magnitude, I completely internalized my abhorrence and grew up knowing that a) I had a secret that I could never tell anyone, and b) I was fundamentally wrong…less-than…inferior…weird, a freak, etc…What was ironic was that I was never actually exposed to homophobia or picked on because of my sexuality, but all the messages I was getting from the media and the world around me pretty much let me know that the internal voice I was victim to, the voice that was telling me that I was flawed, was right on the money. I realize that I grew up in the late 70’s and that my formative years were in the 80’s, and that times have changed, but have they really?
I remember vividly the Rock Hudson scandal in 1985 when the news broke that he had AIDS, what was then labelled as the “gay” disease. Because I couldn’t use my voice and get the weight of the secret off my chest, I immediately understood that Rock Hudson had died from AIDS because he was gay. And because I was gay, I would die. I’ll never forget my annual check-up with my GP in 1986 when I was sure that he was going to tell my mom, with me in the room, that I was dying. And I’ll never forget the feeling that I had temporarily dodged a bullet when we left that appointment unscathed. It was agony. My youth was full of moments like this. I cannot remember a time before I knew that I was attracted to men…and that it was wrong…so for those people who insist that homosexuality is a choice, my tortured childhood will hopefully silence their ignorance. Portia de Rossi’s quote, “Having to hide something like that just ruined me…it really, really killed me” perfectly describes how I remember my life until I became more aware of myself and more confident. But I wouldn’t wish the years leading up to that point on my worst enemy.
Portia de Rossi also spoke to Oprah about how if more people who were gay would come forward and say, “I’m gay…so what?”, then perhaps horrible events like the recent suicides that have garnered the world’s attention might be preventable. I know that if I had more positive gay role models when I was growing up, I definitely would have been able to go easier on myself and not feel like I was doomed. So despite my assumption that everyone who knows me knows that I’m gay, married, and incredibly proud to be able to live my life in a city like Montreal, I’m literally coming forward to say that I’m gay…and so what? In the immortal words of my mother when I came out to my parents when I was 17, “So what? It doesn’t mean you can’t be happy…it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful…it doesn’t mean you can’t live a full, meaningful life.” Thank goodness for my parents…
For those of you who harbor feelings of judgement, superiority or hatred towards people who are gay, know that you are killing people with the weight of your judgement.
For those of you who realize that gay people are not gay by choice, that for someone to come forward in a state of pure honesty & full disclosure as homosexual feels like putting one’s head on the chopping block, consider yourselves human.
Understand that every person, male or female, who comes out of the shadows of their darkest fears to let themselves be truly seen, has years of an internal dialog accumulated…one that has convinced them that they are inferior, abnormal, and not worthy of being loved AS THEY ARE. It is this internal dialog, this voice that convinces many women and men that they are too fat, too tall, too short, too ugly, too thin, too dumb, or too smart. It is this voice that has contributed to the recent suicides (and countless other not-so-recent ones) of homosexual youth around the world. It is this voice that I am on a mission to silence…forever…we are all perfect in our natural states. We are all flawless. Even those of you who truly believe that homosexuality is somehow wrong are flawless…misguided, perhaps…but flawless. We all grow up believing what we see and are taught at home and all around us, and sometimes we’re given more narrow views on the world we live in and the people we share that world with. It’s time now to be our own individuals. To tap into our own individual consciousness, and the collective universal consciousness. Where we are all the same. Where skin colour, gender, sexuality, nationality, and social class are irrelevant. Because they are. We are all citizens of this planet. And if we don’t wake up soon to realize it, we will be that much closer to contributing to our own demise.
I ask of you all to forward this on through all the avenues that social media now offers, as if this gets to one person who is struggling with their own existence and offers a glimmer of light and hope, then we all win.
Thank you Portia de Rossi. (and Oprah 😉 ).