Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Shane Cota. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
[amazon_link asins=’B073ZN8DRS’ template=’ProductAdRight’ store=’ourqueerstories-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’018bf9a1-8cb1-11e7-aea5-ddb1f96d253a’]Boys don’t cry. This is what we’re told when we are young men. Boys don’t cry, nor do they show emotion. Our gender roles are assigned to us long before we are even born. Boys do not wear pink, boys play sports. A boy that does not play sports is a sissy. Being a sissy is unacceptable, as most fathers do not want a ‘girly’ boy for a son, because most fathers do not want their sons to be gay. There are a majority of fathers that are homophobic, and do not accept this in their families. It is an old-fashioned ‘macho’ attitude, and in my mind that way of thinking is outdated. Unfortunately for me, I knew at a young age that my father was homophobic. I knew this because I saw how he treated family members that were older than myself, and how he made comments such as;
“you don’t want to end up like so-n-so”
Because “so-n-so” was gay. I was never into sports. For whatever reason, I was just never drawn to any sports. Sure I attempted to play them, and would only end up embarrassing myself, because I felt as though something was wrong with me if I did not know how to make a basket, or how to throw a baseball like all of the other boys. I failed miserably at any sports I played, and just ended up feeling more humiliated, than I already was. I was drawn to things like writing, and acting in the school plays. I enjoyed reading any book that I could possibly get my hands on. Deep down inside, I felt like a disappointment to my father. My relationship with him was not a very close one. He was distant. And perhaps deep down within himself he already knew, by the time I was seven, that I was gay. Maybe he just did not want to admit it to himself. If he would have accepted me at that young age, knowing before I even knew that I was gay, he could have saved me from years of confusion, and even more humiliation, and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, he never did develop a close relationship with me, now that I am older I understand why, he did not want a ‘fag’ for a son. He passed away when I was nine years old, and I would never have closure.
After my father’s passing, my mother grew sick with cancer. Two years later, she passed. My mother loved me, and did not care if I was a sports star, or a rugged boy, she loved me just the way I was. She was my mother, and I was her son, and that was all. She encouraged me to do theater in school, she encouraged me to do anything I wanted, and assured me no matter what people say about me to never care, never worry. I held on tight to her teachings. Long after she passed, it was her words that got me through tough times.
After her passing, I went to live with family members that were religious. At first it was seemingly a good thing, but as I got older and became aware of my sexuality, I was broken down by some of these family members. All of their teachings of love, and kindness just went out of the window. I was scared and confused. Because I was gay I was treated like an outcast. Despite the lessons they taught from the bible about “loving thy neighbor” and “judge not lest ye be judged,” I was thrown out of the house.
At fifteen, I was an orphan. No parents because of my loss, and those that were entrusted with my well being had turned their backs on me and did so in the name of GOD. I went from home to home, and lived with many, many, many friends whose parents took me in. I got a job to support myself, and I worked at every fast food/ video store/ movie theater/ restaurant/ coffee house/ grocery store that you could think of. I rented couches from people to sleep on. I rented garages, any place that I could rest my head, I rented. I once slept in someone’s shed they had outside of their home, because their father did not want a gay boy in their house. I was banned from being inside, so my friend would sneak me into the shed, so I would have a place to sleep.
Although I was working, it was tiresome. I went to school during the day, and worked all night. I still did not have enough money, after paying rent, feeding and clothing myself, I was left with nothing. I once rolled up my pants to get into a fountain where people use to go to throw their spare change, I would sneak into the fountain at two in the morning when nobody was around. I gathered up all of the change to use it for whatever I needed. I was depressed, angry, sad, and full of hate. I did not want to be gay, I did not want to be me. I was made to feel that being gay was one of the most horrible things a person could be. It only caused people to turn their backs on me. I was in the situation I was in, just because I was gay. But I could not stop being who I was, no matter how hard I tried. For a period of time, I dulled my emotions with the use of methamphetamines. But no drug was strong enough to take away what I was feeling. I was killing my body,
slowly, by using drugs to escape. So I made a decision to let go, of everything.
One night I stood on nearby train tracks, crying, waiting for the train to come. I was at my lowest. I was done, with life, with struggling, and feeling like there was no way out, no way to change everything. I had tried to change myself, I slept with girls, trying to prove to myself that I was not gay. I tried to be what society considers normal, but it just was not me. I knew I was gay. I cried out into the sky, for my mother, wishing that she was there, because she would never have allowed any of this pain I was feeling to be part of my life. In the midst of my tears, a dear friend of mine had found me. She came over to the tracks to tell me she loved me. She told me I was a beautiful person inside and out, and that I had a lot to offer the world. She hugged me, and helped me step off of the tracks. We cried in each others arms, and her words were what I needed in that moment. I was lucky, but not everybody is.
There are plenty of teenagers that go through similar if not worse situations, when dealing with coming out. LGBTQ suicide is at an all time high, and it breaks my heart. All it takes is one person to show their support, to show their love, to see them like my dear friend looked me in the eyes, she validated me. She made me feel recognized, to know that I was not alone, that someone was aware of what I was going through and cared enough to tell me. She saved my life that night.
Others are not so lucky. It starts in the home, where parents need to focus on teaching their children acceptance. Parents need to teach their children to love, so they do not grow up and become bully’s, so they can be there when someone else is hurting. And despite your religious beliefs, you can not use the name of God to justify your hateful actions. It took me time to gain confidence. It took many true friends, and family members to help me heal. But eventually I got through it. I was able to stand on my own two feet, and instead of being ashamed of who I was, I could stand proud. I no longer needed the use of drugs to fill the void. I was able to surround myself with people who cared. People that made me laugh, and made me feel good about myself. Sometimes it is hard, but you have to remove the negative people in your life in order to find happiness, even if it means removing a family member.
When I was able to love myself, the love of my life entered. It was as though the universe had aligned for me at the right moment, when I was ready for love. My partner has helped me to grow into the strong, confident, proud gay man that I am today. He is my rock to lean on.
I know life is one giant ball of confusion. You never know which way it is going to turn out. You never know what is around the corner, so to those that are going through a tough situation for coming out, or deciding to come out. There is one thing you must know, it gets better. It truly does. I hope by sharing my story, someone out there is able to find hope, and wipe your tears and know that you can make it. My decision to share this story, is important for me since I am proud of who I am, to let people know there is nothing that can break my spirit, and I’d like to encourage others to find their inner strength, so they too can stand proud.
I have a statement that I always use, and maybe somebody out there in the LGBTQ community that is struggling can learn from it:
“Yes I live with a man. Yes I wear makeup. Yes I’m a 31 year old sissy, but I know who I am, and you can’t change me, and I am proud of that”