Friday, January 28, 2011
Partway through the movie, and at the end of the movie there were two quotes that I was woundering what people had to think about them.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." ("Loving Annabelle")
"For one human being to love anouther; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks...the work for which all other work is but preperation." Rainer Maria Rilke
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I was afraid, scared of what had just happened, and what was about to happen. I wanted to speak; I wanted to break my silence. I was terrified of how people would react. I was afraid of losing friends and loved ones. What I had done would change my life forever. Hormones kicked in during middle school. Seventh grade came, and I found myself in a new place. I found myself attracted to a couple of my female teachers. But that was normal right? It had to be normal to be attracted to an older person right? It had to be normal to find things attractive about people that you saw every day. It had to be normal to want to experiment a little. So maybe what I was feeling about those teachers was just a phase. Maybe these feelings would disappear over time, and I would begin to feel an attraction to the guys about my age. And so I buried what I was feeling, and began to fake an attraction to the guys my age.
By high school I had more and more male teachers. And I found it easier to fake my attraction to the guys. But those feelings I was having for my middle school teachers were still there. I was finding myself attracted to a few students at my school. And these weren't guys. I was finding myself attracted to the girls. Why weren't these feelings disappearing? Maybe this phase was going to last longer than I expected it to. Maybe I would have to wait longer for these feelings towards other young women would disappear. I had already waited two years. It couldn't last too much longer. So I would wait a little longer. I buried my feelings once again, and hoped that something would happen soon. I didn't want to deal with these feelings towards other women for much longer. It was getting frustrating, and scarier. What if the feelings I had never went away? What if I was really gay? My parents would be so disappointed in me if I was gay. My grandparents would hate my guts, and kill me if they found out that I was gay. I hoped that this was just a phase that was allowing me to figure out what I would later be attracted to in the guys.
High School began to speed by. Before I knew it, freshman year was over, and sophomore year was beginning. Sophomore year I found myself forgetting my feelings for women. I found myself easily faking my attraction to the guys at school. A couple of my senior friends and I would hang out before school every day in the band hall. The five of us had a lot of fun just standing around and talking about whatever. The two I was closest too would write in my yearbook that spring. They wrote things that would choke me up, and that I would later pass on to a freshman during my senior year. The rest of my high school years would pass like a speeding bullet. Before I knew it, I had graduated from high school, and was off to a local community college and my first part time job.
It was at Dow Gardens that I began to learn a lot about myself. I began making friends that I haven't forget, and have stayed in contact with. Maybe my life was about to change. I still was burying my feelings constantly. I couldn't tell anyone that I was gay. Nobody could know. I just had to keep my sexuality to myself. At first I had a lot of help learning everything I needed to know. Michelle was always in the gift shop with me those first few weeks. Usually she'd be off in her office though, getting ordering done and other things done that she couldn't do when she was the only one in the gift shop. But she was there if I had a question I needed answered about something. She was there if I needed to talk. But just having her there made life easier to deal with. But she was pregnant. And I knew in a short time she would be gone for several weeks to give birth, and maternity leave. I knew it was coming. But I wasn't prepared for it. For several weeks I was alone every day I worked in the gift shop/information center. I didn't have someone there with me that I could talk with about whatever.
And eventually I found myself hating going to work. I wanted a different job than the one I had. I missed Michelle. Joanne wasn't the same. And I almost never saw Elizabeth or the children's garden person. I wanted to see Elizabeth and the children's garden person more if Michelle wasn't there. I didn't want to feel like I was the only girl working at the gardens, even though I knew I wasn't the only girl. It just felt like I was the only girl since I never saw any of the other women. Then, one day, Michelle stopped by for a few minutes. Seeing her was like a breath of fresh air. For those few minutes I saw Michelle, I didn't feel as alone, didn't feel like the only girl who worked at the gardens. But she still had another three weeks before Michelle would be back at work. I was sad when she left minutes later. Once again I felt completely alone.
For three weeks I reveled in my misery at work. I would beg my friends to stop by if they were able to. But my friends were too busy with school to ever stop by. And I understood why they couldn't stop by. One Friday, when I relieved Roy from IC (Information Center) duty, he was quite glad to get out of there. The next week Michelle would be back. I was still frustrated with feeling so alone in the IC. But I could make it until next week when I would see Michelle again, and I would have company most of the time I was in the IC. But something unexpected was going to happen the next week. Something that I was unprepared for was going to happen the next week.
The next week I began dreading going to work. I had forgotten that Michelle was back at the gardens. I didn't really want to go to work without Michelle there. I wanted someone who would be there when I needed someone to just be there, when I needed to talk with someone. But then I remembered that Michelle was back this week. That threw my mood about going to work. I was suddenly happy to go to work. It meant that I would have company again, and would feel so alone all of the time. I drove to work and clocked in happily, knowing that having Michelle around again would make my life so much easier. Those first few weeks of working at Dow Gardens felt so easy, and I had come to feel at home with Michelle. And when Michelle left on maternity leave, I no longer had the person there to rely on when life was tough and I needed a friend to lean on.
The moment I arrived outside of the IC, I could see Michelle talking with another member of the year round staff. I couldn't help but smile. For the first time in a long while, I knew that things would be okay. My friend was back. My closest friends were all going to school a minimum of forty-five minutes away from our home town. And so I didn't get to see them very often. And that was tough on me. I had to relearn how to make friends. And I had made some new friends. But none of them were the close friends like the ones I saw some of my friends making. And so when I met Michelle, and we began to get to know each other, I was quite glad to have made a friend so easily. And so I made my way into the IC, glad to be back with my friend.
The rest of the afternoon we spent together working on getting ready for the next few days, which were the days that the annual Christmas walk would occur. We set up a new shelving unit together, we set out a number of poinsettias, and we talked. Well, Michelle did most of the talking. She was having a bad day, and to have me there meant she had someone to listen. Late that afternoon, as I was walking out to the golf cart with another year round staff member, Michelle mentioned that I had been a great friend and listener that day. Michelle wrapped an arm around my shoulders as she said that. What a feeling. I felt like life was going my way again. I once again had a friend that would listen to me if I needed someone to talk to and someone that would just be there when I needed someone to just be there.
In March I began working regularly again. And that was great. Michelle and I began seeing each other more often instead of on the occasional weekend. It was time to prep for butterflies in bloom. And that meant I spent some time in the conservatory keeping the floors damp so the humidity was good for the butterflies, and washing out pots that would later be used when plants were planted in the spring. But I also spent time during the prep for butterflies in bloom in the IC. One Friday, Michelle and I sat down together in the IC, to drink our hot chocolate, talk and help anybody that would come through. It felt good to just sit there together, and not have to be something that we weren't. We were able to just sit there and be ourselves, not pretending to be something that we weren't.
On one Friday in late March or early April, before the doors opened, Michelle was working on fixing a wheel chair, and I was watering the plants throughout the IC. As I made my way over to the sink to refill the watering can, Michelle moved just enough that our bodies barley brushed. As soon as our bodies were done brushing each other, which barley lasted a couple of seconds, I came to realize that I was gay and there was nothing I could do about it. I had finally come to a place that I could accept myself and my sexuality.
Would I come out to my family and friends? Should I do it? How would people to react to my coming out? For two years I kept quiet. And then it was time to talk. It was time for me to open up and speak and break my silence. I was terrified of how people would react when I stood up and told them that this was who I am. I was terrified what would happen if my parents decided to reject me for my sexuality. I was afraid of losing friends and friends. I knew that when I came out, it would change my life forever. And then I met a person that I had never known. I met the me that was okay with whatever happened when I came out as gay. Facing the reality that I couldn't change my sexuality wasn't easy. But when I faced it, I was okay with being gay. I came out. And when I told my family. I told my friends. My family and friends accepted me as a lesbian. And it felt great. For the first time in my life, I was openly gay, and my family and friends were fine with me being gay.
Recently more and more teenagers have taken their own lives. They took their lives because they didn't choose to be gay, and they were told that their sexuality was wrong. People tells gays that we are wrong, that we need to change and that we are choosing to feel this way. We didn't choose to be gay, just like we cannot choose to be a certain race. Is it wrong to fall head over heels for someone? Why should gays be told it's wrong to find our soul mates? Why should be forced to repress our feelings, and live a lie, and live in silence? Everyone else, who isn't gay, gets to find their soul mate. So why can't I? Why can't the gays find their soul mates? It's time to stop being afraid. It's time to stop being afraid. We want a chance to fall in love. We want a chance to live our lives without be discriminated against. I wish more people would accept gays and lesbians like me. I wish people would accept gays and lesbians as normal people, who just happen to have a different sexuality than most people in the world.
I wish more people would be more accepting of gays and lesbians. I wish we could stop the hate that goes on every day. People don't understand how hard it is to be gay. They don't understand that being gay is something that we cannot control. They do not understand that it hurts when you tell us that we are choosing to be gay. They don't understand that so much of what you say about being gay isn't true. Please understand, we—the gays and lesbians—did not choose to be gay or lesbian. It was the way we were born. Please understand that we want to be loved just like anyone else. Please understand that we want to fall in love, just like anyone else. Understand that so many of us stay in the closet for so many years simply because we are scared of how people will react towards us.
Even if you don't agree with me about gay and lesbian rights, or that our sexuality is the way we were born, please try to treat us as if we were any other person you met on the street. A tiny bit of kindness will go a long ways. And if you're a Christian the believes that being gay or lesbian is a sin, I beg you to take this next piece of advice. God told us not to judge others. So don't judge us for our sexuality. Remember the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated.