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Differential Blues

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Differential Blues

        As far as I can remember, I’ve always been reminded of how I was different; these unsolicited observations were, almost unfailingly, voiced by my peers. Even from an early age, there have been endless instances in which I was constantly singled out for something: the softness of my voice and delicate demeanor, the disparity between the number of girls I hung out with and the number of girlfriends I’d had, my inability to truly jell as well with guys as I did with girls. But in all honesty, I was different. I was gay.  Not that any of these observations truly constitute being gay, but I never really paid any mind to what they insinuated until I internally acknowledged my sexuality. In all of my findings, I came to find that in the life sentence of being gay, one is assigned the responsibility of coming out. I’ve always thought the idea of coming out of the closet was maddening. Coming out as something you’ve always existed as should be a foreign concept. After all, the star male quarterback doesn’t need to “come out” before approaching the head female cheerleader. Those roles are built into our society and accepted, no questions asked. But when that same quarterback decides to go for the guy playing Frank Abagnale Jr. in the school musical? People become curious. I began to test the waters with my closest friends near the start of eleventh grade, just to see if the process was worthwhile. Nine times out of ten, though, they almost always knew. The conversations even took on a singular pattern of their own: I’d admit, they’d pause, I’d apologize, they’d dismiss my apology and embrace me, time resumed.

 After a few months, it almost seemed as if coming out became recreational for me — a game of waiting to find out who was audacious enough to ask whether I was into boys or girls. If they asked, I always told them. I mean, there was no point in veiling something that they felt they already had enough tacit knowledge or evidence to ask about. Why be mad at the truth? Initially, the assumption would always anger me because I hated the feeling of being belittled or trivialized and reduced down solely to my sexuality -- a facet of me that’s just as complex as any other, as I’ve gathered over time. Eventually, I somehow learned to render my anger into power though. After some time I discovered that there was a secret part of me that took pleasure in unashamedly acknowledging my sexual distinction. It made me feel special -- especially within the backdrop of high school -- and accomplished, in a sense, in that I already had accepted apart of myself that it often takes other people years upon years in which to do so -- if they even choose to. In fact, there came a point where I would consistently find ways to introduce my sexuality in various conversations I had with my peers, even to the point of self-exhaustion. I think it was a subconscious way of me affirming myself and piecing my identity together at the time, being that I felt that I didn’t really have a relaxed environment to fully allow myself to just be. Me establishing such an overwhelmingly good rapport with my peers at school gave me enough faith to finally take the next step and come out to my father.

        During my early childhood, I remember my father to be one of my best friends, if not my sole best friend. I spent the majority of my time with him as my mother worked. I just remember being so in tune with him. What I felt was so unique about our relationship, at the time, was that I never felt that I was being groomed to eventually fit myself into the mold of my father; he always recognized me as my own person and challenged me to assert myself in situations in which my input was required. He never failed to make me feel special. It wasn’t until 2008 -- the year of my mother’s cancer diagnosis -- that things between us started to fragment. As the year progressed and my mother’s cancer worsened, I witnessed an unmistakable shift in our relationship begin to take place. Our conversations lost their luster, becoming less fluid and more wooden. Still being young in thinking, I always chalked up those instances to “Dad’s just not feeling well,” or “Mom’s sick and Dad’s sad,” not recognizing that he was viewing moments -- whether past, present or near-future -- through the prism of losing the love of his life. After a while, my fondness for home lessened and lessened. Its foundation really dissipated after the death of my mother. When I was younger, I remember associating home with warmth: the sunlight would paint every nook and cranny of the house, music and laughter would bounce off of the walls -- especially on the weekends, the scent of whatever was cooking on the stove traveled throughout the entire house. Back then life, as I knew it to be, was filled with comfort and security. Even to this day, the sun has never really shined the same after 2009. I think her death really forced us, my father and I, to define ourselves outside of a life we once knew. The problem being that both of us didn’t really know how to take that next step. If I’m being honest, I feel that the transition was most difficult for my father, being that now all of the pressure to maintain an already stressed household was fully on him. Somehow, I always felt that he thought his responsibilities to me as a father didn’t allow him room or time to grieve my mom. Healing from the inside out wasn’t a luxury of his, at least not during that time. You can only imagine how my admission held the potential risk of further desecrating the household. But I needed to do this for me. I still remember walking into his bedroom like it was yesterday.

“Hey Dad,” I stammered.

“Hey, what’s going on,” He answered me with a laughing smile. He was in the midst of enjoying one of his favorite comedy specials on tv.

“Chris, you ever watch Katt Williams? He’s hilarious,” he stopped laughing once he saw my face. “What’s wrong, something bad happened at school?”

“No Pop, school went well. Just,” I paused. “Just promise me you won’t get mad, okay?”

“Who do I need to talk to? Let me know right now.”

“Dad, I think I’m gay.”

“Oh,” he muttered. In that instance, it felt like it was almost as if I’d told him something he knew not to be true. His entire face went blank, except his eyes; they glowered with utter dismissal. It was scary to take in how his glowering eyes contrasted with his weary face. In fact, it wasn’t until I looked into his eyes when I noticed how frail and weary my father had become after my mother’s passing. A grey cloud of silence fell over the room.



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