Shame

When I was younger I preferred the term “Homosexual” to gay. It was cold, technical, precise. A diagnosis, instead of an identity.

And that’s what it was. This little disease I carried in me, this little rotten infection at my core.

Because I never doubted that. Even when I tried to pretend it was just a meaningless detail of my life—no big deal—this was never something I could pretend was superficial. It was deep, deep inside of me, foundational, and central to who I was. Even if it was small.

I knew it. And I hated it.

I never acknowledged my shame. I wasn’t ashamed: I loved myself, I had the arrogance to prove it, I could do with some shame, really, it would help deflate my ego.

But I would feel it. Post climax, or after my eyes latched onto a guy’s calves as he walked across the quad or—quietly, too soft to hear—(because I couldn’t feel this way, I was incapable of feeling this way, I COULD NOT feel this way) when my heart fluttered when a guy laughed at my jokes or brushed up against me, soft and solid, and I could smell his hair and feel the warmth of his body.

I never managed to pretend I couldn’t feel the warm blush of shame bleeding out from the center of my chest and the back of my throat (like a stain spreading, like urinating, warm and comforting and foul), and this little, strong voice at the back of my head would speak.

“pervert”

And I would repent, I would apologize, I would recoil and promise (myself) to strive and to do better.

And then I would remind myself “You’re forgiven” and I would drown the shame in a smile (just a little burst of artificial sunshine, fake it till you make it! Happiness is a choice!) And I would box it up, tie it up tight and shove it somewhere deep at the back of my soul, somewhere in the dark. It would decay there, right?

Please?

Shame has a long half-life.