Today, as I was walking down one of Chicago’s infamous gay streets, Halsted, on the way to Boys Town, I found myself wondering, “How did I get here?” And, “Who am I right now?” I then pondered on how I have never really been one to embrace the gay culture. Well, it didn’t come naturally to me… I had to work at it. I remember the first time I went to a pride fest in Baton Rouge, and how excited I felt walking past the protestors that were condemning me to hell. I thought, “I did it, here I am.” I was proud and a bit nervous, equally.
So on that long walk today, I began to wonder exactly how I got here. Here are the facts: I am an openly gay male living in a predominately gay area of town; I work with HIV/AIDS clients; and I adore Beyonce’. The last one is not necessary to my realization, but I threw it in for kicks. Did I become the cliche gay person that moves to a Big Gay City once they have come out? Have I unknowingly morphed into the exact thing that I never wanted to be?
I often think about my young cousins, or what my older cousins tell their children about me. It is likely that not much conversation happens regarding me or my lifestyle, but if it did, what would they say? I am not particularly close with my cousins or their families, however everyone is loving and supportive, alike. Distance and lack of similarities has created an unspoken, undisputed, distance that lives between us. So how do they view my decisions to move to a more liberal area? I would like to note, how extremely loving and supportive my entire family is. When my grandmother told my grandfather I was gay, his response was, “I loved Garrett before, and I still love him now.” The love and support of my family is not in question.
Obviously, I am cognizant that these inner thoughts are immature and self-serving; like a teenager thinking that everyone is talking about them. I know this is not truth, but it makes me wonder: Did my moving only reinforce the idea that to be gay means moving away? In truth, it is a very large contributing factor of why I moved. Perhaps, I am not allowed these conflicting thoughts, since it is an outcome that I was seeking. I do hope that my young cousins, or their future children, realize that being gay can be something that is okay to be spoken aloud. Or that they have the bravery to stay and find the happiness that I could never obtain in a place like Louisiana.
The truth is I don’t know how I got here, where I am going, or who I will become. These things do not scare me, however they are a part of me. I want to live simply, impact largely, and love fully. This will be my goal.