Contributor’s Note: It is a REALLY slow news day so again I’ll share something I wrote a while back. Enjoy!
What defines you?
We look for meaning to some degree in everything we do. Definition is important because it gives us understanding and gives us purpose in our world. To an extent it protects us as it provides insight. Definition makes our lives easier. But does one aspect of who you are define you as a whole human being?
Tonight I responded to a question that asked if a person never comes out, does that define who they are. I said no because fear or circumstances are defining that decision to stay in the closet or come out. Being gay is a part of who they are whether they deny it, suppress it, or completely embrace it. I was born gay and being gay is not what defines me as a human being. A definition is who you are and an identity are aspects of what you are. I identify as a gay multiracial man but it does not define me, it is simply a part of who I am. However my decision to come out was affected by circumstance and fear. Not because of my parents because they have always known but to the world. That fear kept me in a glass closet to an extent at certain times in my life. But I am so much more then that.
My drive for equality and fairness for everyone, the eternal optimist in me that hopes when everything seems hopeless. My innate desire to love unabashed, passionately, deeply, emphatically, irrevocably, unapologetically for all of eternity love. I refused to let others define me anymore in all aspects of my life. I give a lot of myself and most of that is willingly and without hesitation. But who I am is defined by me and me only. I fight for equality. Fighting is the instrument in which I use to better illustrate my definition. People can only define others if they give them the power to do so. And one of the biggest ways people define someone is through fear.
Fear is used to deter people from being themselves. It’s used by religion and politics to control and demonstrate power. Being gay and having equal rights takes nothing from those that oppose it other than power. And any excuse used to justify it other than power is a lie. This fear tactic is used to deter gay men and women from coming out. Staying in the closet for fear of losing their jobs, from having loved ones turn against them, and sadly for fear for their own life. I understand and empathize with that because I’ve been there, twice because I went into a glass closet for an ex boyfriend. It’s sad and it hurts like hell that so many of us go through this pain of not being able to own that part of ourselves publicly. Sometimes privately. In spite of this, whether being in the closet or out and proud this does not define someone because sexuality is such a small part of who we are.
In comparison to everything else I am, my sexuality is so minuscule and finite. Maybe it’s because gay is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think who I am. Or my race, my gender, my age, hair color, etc.,. None of those characteristics has enough power alone or combined to define who I am. They add to the collective but are not the real essence. And regardless of a clear definition of who someone is through experience, some spiritual awakening, or existential examination, the definition of who we are is up to is. Only each individual has that power. A person can love that part of themselves even if they don’t acknowledge it publicly. Sometimes we can’t always control our circumstances in life but we can always choose to love ourselves. That is still only a part of the wonderful human beings each and every one of us are. It may drive our actions but it does not define us.
Yes there are those that wish me harm because I’m gay and because I’m multiracial. Laws were created to take away my rights as a citizen of this country feigned as some divine mandate. I can even be fired in my homestate at a job on the sole reason of my sexuality. I get angry and flat out pissed off when I feel oppressed or threatened that I have to be mindful that my love for another man is seen as wrong. I’ll never get used to it nor will I ever accept it. Despite all of that, it does not and will not define that aspect or any aspect of me. And circumstances are no longer able to do so. This unfortunately is not the same for everyone that is gay. We have to be understanding to that fact and not recklessly say things about people in the closet because we don’t know their circumstances.
Upon this reflection I know I can only speak for myself. Maybe I wrote this because I can’t stand being labeled or categorized because of one simple aspect of the complex human I am and as all humans are. This is my belief and my experience alone. But because my circumstances changed, I am now able to fight back. I fight back in advocacy. I fight back in how and who I vote for each election year. I speak out by supporting my fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters ready for the continuing uphill battle. We have to fight for equality all day every day. It doesn’t matter if someone does or doesn’t believe in marriage as I sure as hell will fight for your right to choose. To fight so that we have job protection and not be fired simply because we’re gay.
So I don’t let my sexuality define me. I am so much more then that and so is each and every human being on this planet. It’s not easy and there are nights I throw myself into my pillow and cry myself to sleep in anger and frustration. But I won’t give up. Ever. Fighting is the instrument in which I use to fight for equality. It is the action to explain my belief, philosophies, and meaning. Whether someone loves every aspect of themselves or suppresses them it’s due to circumstances and actions. But being gay is only one aspect of who I am. I’m more then that and so is everyone else. Only each individual can decide if they love that aspect of themselves or not, whether in the closet or living as an openly gay person. But we can support and love each other no matter what. Again, only you can decide that.
But have you ever asked the question of who defines you? I have and only I define who I am.