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.
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?
Shame has a long half-life.