For most of my life, this photo most accurately depicts how I felt internally and eventually became externally. This is an actual photo of me in college. I think it was in Tennessee and the figure is a wax figure of the worlds tallest man.
In my world, everyone was bigger than me mentally and physically… and bigger meant better. I constantly felt out-of-place and rarely felt accepted. Everyone was better than me and in my mind, they deserved more than I did. I willingly and sometimes unwillingly took a back seat to everyone. If ever and whenever I was offered a middle or front seat, I promptly declined. Even in college and school, I sat in the back of the class when possible.
I simply didn’t deserve to be in the front or the middle with the smart, important people. In my mind, I did not deserve to be treated equally or fair. After all… I was just a stupid kid with little value or worth who was different from all the other people in his life. When I say “different” I meant dumb, stupid, odd, unaccepted and unworthy. I was neither smart, cute, confident or capable. I lacked self-esteem and struggled with depression and acceptability as long as I can remember. Even as far back as kindergarten and earlier.
I never had the proverbial best friend that I could trust, rely upon and be safe with. As early as I can remember I knew that I was different in my attraction to males. I had no idea until elementary school that I was not supposed to be attracted to my same-sex. So I learned to suppress and hide at a really young age. If you will read earlier posts, you will read that suicide was a daily battle for me.
My memories of Kindergarten are quite vivid, I shared that in an earlier post, but my memory fades quite a bit until third grade. I sorta-kinda remember where my classroom was for 1st and 2nd grade and I know that I did not like my teachers. One was Mrs. Moncrief. Her name alone frightened the Be-Jesus out of me. She was super dark-skinned and she as well as my 2nd grade teacher whose name I do not remember at all sat in back of the class. I HATED when the teacher sat in the back of the class instead of the front. I always got busted for talking, shuffling, fidgeting, tearing paper, eating paper, getting up and walking around. I was disconnected and had zero interest. I didn’t fit in. I was afraid and nervous, and the teacher sitting in BACK of me made it almost unbearable.
I do however remember 3rd Grade. It was one of the most positive experiences. Miss Edie was young and vibrant. She kept me engaged and was always kind. She had an end-of-the-year party at her apartment where she had food and dancing. She even picked up all the students whose parents could not or would not bring their kids. Black and White… she had no favorites. For some reason she always made me feel safe and I trusted her. I don’t know what was so different about her but I do know that there was something memorable.
She was a new teacher at our small elementary school and was “not from deez here parts” if ya know what I mean. I have no idea where she hailed from, but she was clearly comfortable with our poor, uneducated, and multi-cultural, blue-collar community in our very small town of Baldwin, Louisiana.
I secretly think that she realized that I was a very ‘different” boy child and she gave me the attention that a confused, anxious, depressed, severely A.D.D. child needed to survive 3rd grade. At the end-of-the-year-party, she gave each student a paperback book. The book she gave me was Stuart Little by E.B. White. I had it just until recently when my two children either tore it or it fell apart. None the less, I believe that it is not ironic that she gave me that specific book. I was very small in stature and needed lots of attention. Miss Edie… If you are out there somewhere. I appreciate you.
I cant wait to tell you about my 4th grade teacher in a future post.
I said all that to say this. I didn’t choose to be “different,” I just AM different, and by different, I mean gay. As a matter of fact, I did EVERYTHING in my power to choose to be Un-Gay. We are created the way that we are. Isn’t it the religious who scream at abortion clinics that “God doesn’t make mistakes!”? The why, oh why does that position suddenly change when it comes to being gay? That is a question that you must answer for yourself. I have chosen to say that God did not MAKE me gay. He ALLOWED me to be gay. Gay is not a disease, a curse, a sin or a sickness. How does an elementary-aged KID choose to be attracted to the same-sex? The question is rhetorical at best.
If I could choose to be Gay, then surely I could choose to be Un-gay right? If I chose to be gay, then when did you choose to be heterosexual? No C’mon… it’s an honest question that deserves and answer. When did you CHOOSE to be heterosexual? Oh you didn’t…???? What’s that??? You were born that way???? Born that way really? Why do you get to be “born that way” but gay people don’t? I thought that God didn’t make junk or mistakes. Good thing is that I have learned to subscribe to that. I am not junk… I am not a mistake. I am God’s man, in God’s place and in God’s time. He is my creator. I owe Him the respect to live authentic with dignity, worth and respect for myself and others.
It has even been suggested that I go to a class or classes that will make me UN-Gay. Hmmmmmm????…. Really…Like so many others who have been to these “classes” or “rehab” only to come out more confused and depressed than when they entered? Even Exodus International has now refused to make claims that NO ONE can be CURED from being gay. They still teach that “acting on it” is a sin. I don’t subscribe to this position. I challenge any heterosexual to NOT “act on” the feelings and love that they have for their spouse or significant other. The divorce rate would be much greater than 52%. That proposition is stupid at best.
Here is a suggestion for ya. If I can be “taught” to be un-gay, then I should be able to take a heterosexual person and send them to a “get-Gay” class or rehab. If it works one way, then it MUST work the other. That is ridiculous you say??? I concur. It IS ridiculous.
I no longer feel like everyone in the world is bigger, better or more deserving than me. I have accepted that I am loved by a Great Big God who sees beyond misinterpreted or “culturally interpreted” scriptures. He sees beyond the legalism that we call good and bad. I am equal to those that surround me and those that I allow into my life. It doesn’t change that from time to time that I struggle with abandonment of family and friends. It doesn’t change that I need course correction from time to time. It doesn’t change that I’m still just a kid from the Louisiana swamps. But what has changed is that I now know that I am living authentic. I love how I am “showing up” these days.
I don’t ask you to “change” your belief structure… but do ask yourself. Is this MY belief structure or is it a belief structure that I have inherited? Don’t tell me what the BIBLE says until you KNOW what the Bible says… not what someone else told you the Bible says. As a matter of fact… don’t tell me you are a Christian… show me. Don’t tell me what the Bible “says”… show me.
I am deeply thankful to those who have displayed grace and love toward me even when I know that you disagree with me. I am even more thankful to those who have sent notes or emails challenging me in my belief and opinion while maintaining respect and dignity for me as a person even though we will likely never agree. Remember… If you believe that your God is a big and powerful and loving as you say He is, then you don’t have to “defend” Him. He is capable to do exceedingly abundantly more than you.
Thanks for reading and Sharing…
Chet Lloyd DeRouen