OK, here is a very real letter and follow-up story that exposes how ridiculous it is to make believe people "choose" to be gay. The letter home, written several years by young man away at college, is longer than your typical MC.com post but I think anyone who reads it will find it's a quick read. His heartfelt words illustrate how truly painful the process of "coming out" is. While the letter itself is timeless, let's pray that its topic isn't.
I would have posted the letter earlier, but it took me a few days to catch up with the author to get permission. Finally, because Travis (the person who wrote the letter) makes some statements that would be otherwise difficult to understand, I'm going to inform you now that he was born with a physical disability. And the answer is yes, he is a very strong, intelligent and determined individual.
So, without further ado, I'll let Travis take it from here.
my coming out story - by Travis
I first came out in when I was 19 to my resident advisor, Colette, and though I feared that my college friends would hate me, I received positive reactions. When I decided the next year that I was ready to tell someone in my family. I chose my older brother, Chad, figuring that since he was in college at the time, he'd be pretty open-minded. I wrote him a short, blunt e-mail. His response was not positive.
Though he later apologized for his initial reaction to the news that his "little brother was a faggot," he still advised me against telling our parents. So when I got the assignment in English class to write an essay on "who I am," I took the opportunity to write the coming out letter to Chad I meant to write in the first place.
I am writing you this letter to tell you many things. I feel myself being torn in two, ripped into halves. One part is kept hidden and the other remains known, but I am both. I am struggling to incorporate the halves to form a whole and complete self. I have feared writing this letter. I feared the truth and its possible consequences, but I cannot continue to live with my insides corroded with shame and guilt and my life controlled by fear. I am ready to accept myself and the reactions of others.
I admire you very much. You have always been my hero. I have never resented you or been jealous of the things you have done. I have been happy for all you have accomplished. I cannot walk well and I am unable to run, but I am always telling people how my brother is a runner. You have a passion, which is something I lack. You have found a joy and love for running, and you have pursued it. Your dedication amazes me. I cannot seem to find anything that supplies me with the sheer pleasure of life and the drive to exist.
You are handsome; I feel ugly. My face is pale, disproportional and twisted. My body is skinny and sickening. I have often gazed into the mirror with pure hate for the ugly person staring at me. I learned to avoid mirrors and cameras. Mirrors stole any self-esteem I managed to build; pictures immortalized my ugliness. I dreamed of having money to get surgery to change myself and not be so ugly. I am now realizing that I am not ugly; I am in fact quite attractive. That awareness has taken a lot of work. My self-image was not based on external things, but rather was an internal hatred manifested into an outward one. The hatred was a tree of unhealthiness. With tough roots of guilt and shame, it stemmed into contempt, despair, apathy and depression. Each of these stems bore black and rotten fruits, thoughts of suicide. It was safer to hate the way I looked because looks are changeable, but this didn't rid me of the real hate. The hatred of my existence was buried deeper, where the hate tree's roots had a strong hold in the soil of my being. I now understand this and am working to release myself from the limiting hold of those roots.
I grew up knowing that I was different. I did not understand how, but I knew. When I was in the fifth grade, puberty stole my innocence and left me confused and alone. I had girlfriends, but I was physically attracted to other boys. I was mystified by these feelings, although they seemed natural. I remember hearing about faggots, the men who slept with men. These gay people were evil and hated by God, the God I loved and followed. I wondered if others felt the same attractions. I was even curious if you had gone through the same thing. I hoped it was a common part of puberty that would soon pass. After a few months, I realized that others did not feel the same, and I was isolated by my abnormality.
I refused to mentally associate myself with the gay people that we'd been warned about. They were doomed to burn in Hell. I believed all the warnings, I learned to hate the disgusting perverts also. It seemed impossible for me to be one of them. The rationalization generated by my fifth grade brain was that I only looked at other boys because I envied their bodies. But my strange desires did not subside and by the seventh grade my mind began to yearn for a new explanation. When I was twelve, I finally put the two together, me and gay.
The world did not crumble and God did not strike me dead, but I was scared. I agonized for weeks over a solution to my predicament. I decided that God would still love me if I never acted upon my homosexual feelings. I prayed that He would have mercy upon me and change me. Seven years passed and God did not change me, though I was faithful to my plan and to Him. Depression became a part of me, and now there was an addition to my prayer: death. I wanted release from the shameful and hidden feelings. I knew I could not kill myself because suicide was a sin.
I fantasized about it, though. Maybe I could slit my wrists and pray for forgiveness as my life flowed down the drain. But I was never brave enough to carry out any plan. Most nights I cried in my pillow as I prayed for death.
I tried to be like you. I tried to be straight, normal and worthy of love. Consciously, I struggled to masculate myself. I made sure I sat with my legs open, kept my hand movements controlled and stiff, and did not hug in public. My voice sounded like a faggot's (nasal, weak and effeminate), so I tried to avoid speaking and spoke softly when I did.
In high school, I strove to gain your acceptance. I joined clubs and made good grades, but still there was the unspoken rule that I not talk to you at school. You were a grade above me and too good to associate with me. I imagined how you must tell your friends that I was not really your brother. It hurt, but I never broke the rule. I treasured the nights when we talked as we waited for sleep, our parallel beds a big equal sign.
I remember many things from our youth together. I recall the times when we would roam the woods for hours and pretend we were great explorers. We would discover caves and mossy beds under trees and fantastic swinging vines. Many years separate us from the expeditions in the woods, but we are still explorers. Now we search for something greater than caves and vines. We practice living as we explore ourselves. Life has taken hold and given us many obstacles. I do not believe that all obstacles must be overcome and forgotten, but they must be embraced and incorporated into our being. Then we learn that they are not mere barriers; they are blessings to ensure growth.
I have not written this letter to hurt you. I know that at first you will probably be devastated by the news that your little brother is gay, but I pray that in time you will understand. I am trying to help you see the whole me. There are many different sides to me, and they must all fit together to form one.
I am a 19-year-old college student. I am disabled. I am gay. And I am a Christian. I do believe that God loves me as I am. There is no more denying because that road leads to despair and death, and I do not wish to travel that w