Tag Archive: memories


This weeks English class blog question caused me to pause for a minute.  What event did change me?  The simple answer, all of them, and none of them.  Let me explain.  This summer I focused heavily on myself, my problems, and my past.  Not in an egotistical way, but one that would help better me as a person.  During that time time I started to go back and track growth throughout my life.  It showed me how much I had already changed, areas I should revert back to, and areas where I was wrong both then and now, and still needed evaluating.  Even though all of them helped shape me into who I am, no single event defines who I am.

For my response to the blog question though, I would have to answer; The event that defines who I am, would have to be coming out as a gay man.  Now above I said no single event defines me, and coming out was no single event either.  I had several coming outs, which used to be the norm, but now-a-days kids are coming out younger and more to everyone at the same time, rather than in waves like I did.  The process of me coming out was around a two year period.

Everyone always wants to know, did I always know I was gay?  The answer, yes.  Or, as aware of my sexuality as any young child is.  I remember being 5 to 8 years old, my aunt bought me a human physiology CD Rom.  You could see all the different parts and systems of the body.  Bones, nervous system, the veins, as well as being able to see the man (or woman) completely nude.  It was an educational disk, and I learned a lot about bones which I always found cool.  But I also liked to look at “Adam,” as the male version was called.  Adam usually had a fig leave covering his privates, but with the click of a button you could remove that.  Not knowing about sex or even sexuality at the time, I didn’t know why I liked Adam and not Eve, but that was just how it was.

Fast forward to my early teens and I had confusing feelings.  All the guys around me suddenly became interested in females, when just the summer before we thought they were gross.  I was confused further when I became more interested in my guy friends, than I did about the girls they were talking about.  I always kept it hidden, it was my dirty secret, no one could know, and no one did know, not for a long time.  When I was 17 I confessed to my parents that I was “struggling” with homosexuality, and I wanted help.

Anytime you suppress a part of who you are, a defining characteristic, you run into problems.  Stress, depression, anger, bitterness, and the list could go on.  With more years of “struggling” with my sexuality, of seeking help from professionals and other gay men that had “left homosexuality,” years and years of prayers and tears, I still was unable to change.

I spent my first two years at a pretty famous Christian college, and sought help, prayer, and the bible for answers.  But while I watched prostitutes, drug deals, and woman abusers all seemingly grow and change, the one “sin” that was never able to be helped was that of one man loving another.  I stuck with the college though, confessing to more and more people I was “gay, but working on it,” and went on to apply and be accepted within the school for missions work in Brazil.  That fall I had five online courses, a full time job, I was working on support fundraisers and news letters, and I was busy going around to other churches and groups of people to raise awareness and support.

In February of 2011, a month before I was due to go to Brazil, the school called up and dismissed me.  They wouldn’t give a straight answer (and still won’t to this day), but I was being “let-go” (as they called it), because of my sexual orientation.  Something that is literally not able to be controlled.

In hindsight I probably could have legally pressed them for that, but at the time I was too hurt to even tell anyone.  That might have been difficult at the time to handle, I see now that it was the catalyst that would start my growth, or probably more aptly, my re-birth.  No, I am not talking any form of mythical Phoenix death and re-birth, but a new start and out look on life.

Fast forward another two years, to the present day, and you have a maturing and proud homosexual man.  One that is not afraid to be different (where I used to hate being different), one that is not afraid to be true to me (even when others don’t accept me), one that realizes being gay isn’t a choice, and ISN’T a sin.  In other words, a brand new man.

It may not have been a single event, or even a short period of time, but coming out has defined who I am today, and it has taken years, more than a decade honestly, to be able to say this, but I am proud to have been born gay. 

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Tennessee Summer Summery

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“Fun Run” Trip with fellow guides.

This summer I had intended to post more, however, that was before I realized the demand of work, the time spent with friends, and all the writing that I was doing (outside of blogs).  Whatever I thought this summer was going to be like, it was not, it was much, much, more!

Life in the South was something that I had never known before, sure, everyone hears different things about “down yonder”, but hearing about it, and actually knowing are two different things.  If you know anything about me, you will know that hearing about something is not going to be enough for me, I have to know myself.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t go into this summer with some presuppositions, wrong presuppositions, but premeditated judgement nonetheless.  I assumed that everyone listened to country music, that people were more concerned with their farms than they were with relationships, people would be less educated in the country than in the cities, and that everyone was conservative when it came to religious and social beliefs.

Although some of those presuppositions proved to be more true than up here in the North (people in general are more conservative down South), people down below were more understanding and accepting than I had experienced before.  Being an openly gay man, I was not going to go back in the closet as I headed to my summer destination, and try to hide my sexual identity down there.  I was afraid though, that when people figured out I was gay, that I would be lynched, or some equally terrible, violent act, and would be leaving within the first two weeks.  After all, I would have given it a shot, no one could have told me I didn’t at least try.

Instead?  I met some of the coolest, nicest, most self-educated people of my life.  I grew in ways that I am sure I won’t realize for years to come.  Instead of listening to country music (which I ironically discovered I liked), I got to listen to new music (Daft Punks new album, Pretty Lights new album, White Panda, STS9) .  I didn’t find people more concerned with their farms, quite the opposite actually, this summer I had to try and find time to spend alone.  We were all such a social outgoing group, that none of us wanted to miss out on any of the fun, spending all our time together.  Education turned out not to be a problem, most of my friends were in college, had been, or were already graduated.  For the ones that hadn’t gone to school, were self read, and could keep intellectual debates going all night, as we often  did.

The summer was a remarkable time, I expected the worst, and was quite honestly given the best.  Moral of the story?  Discover for yourself, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Dream.Search.Discover.

Every trip, every journey has its own experiences, memories, and scars, the good along with the bad.
I have scars on my left arm and face from accidentally burning myself while in the kitchen as a camp counselor. I have scars on both feet from my sandles last summer working as a life guard. I have a tattoo on my left ankle from while I was in Macedonia traveling with my little sister. And now I have a scar just above my tattoo from where I had a break out of poison ivy.
Many people are ashamed of scars, try to hide them, but they are what makes us, us. Each scar has a story, whether you remember them or not. Each scar came from a certain experience and with its own memories. Scars should be embraced, they shouldn’t be repressed.
Regret and guilt are useful emotions, when used correctly. But regret keeps us from moving forward, and guilt clouds our vision. In my past I used to regret a lot, but it wasn’t till recently I came to understand, life is short. Cliche, I know, but so true. Life is dammed short, and we get but one chance at it. No one is perfect, no one makes all the right choices. Why kill yourself over something that you realize now, in hind sight, was wrong. That regret won’t change anything, just remember the experience, and change things next time.

Working as a raft guide this summer has really broadened my view of life. Everyone is from a different place, we all have different up-bringings, and differnet outlooks on the world. But we all connect, we all know we are different, but we accept and even expect that.
This summer will be a summer that will forever be remembered. In a coming post I will be writing about “A Raft Guides Philosophy on Life,” and will try to sum up all the awesome qualities that make this community not only work, but last.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote, “A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.” Moral of the story? Let go of regret and guilt, and learn, after all, that is what life is about.