"This weekend I'm at a family reunion, and I'm realizing that for many of these people, this may be the last time they see closeted me. So, every I-love-you and compliment I receive is countered with the thought, If you knew the real me, would you still feel that way?
"Currently I feel like I'm loved despite who I am; what I want is to know that I am loved (or even not loved) *for* who I am."
(Thank you, by the way, to all of you who have done this--accepted and loved and appreciated me for who I am. It means the world to me:)
Today, as I registered for school and saw my friends for the first time in months, many of the same thoughts went through my head. The fact is, I'm ready to be loved--and despised--and admired--and rejected--for who I truly am. I'm ready to take the bad with the good; to paraphrase one of my favorite books (Sándor Márai's Embers), if one is liked by everyone, then one is a whore. It seems like, for so long, my goal has been to please/appease/placate everyone else, to the point of sacrificing my own well-being. Well, I am a whore no more. To quote Martha Beck, "Live your truth, losses be damned." That means you, friend who will act like I am a completely different person, and you, relative who will tell your kids to keep well away from me. I will somehow survive without your shining, saintly influence--somehow.
...Of course, I'm not all fire-breathing queer rage. I'm genuinely afraid of losing some of the people I love. But a decision based on fear, as an uncle of mine recently advised me, is not the right one. Besides, I need to be able to know--definitively--whether someone loves me or the concept of me he or she has created. As an anonymous quote goes, "It is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you are not." And I am prepared to be hated (or at least, as prepared as one can be for such a thing).
Being nearly legally adult and still in the closet, I feel like a twentysomething trick-or-treater: the mask is just too small and painful and unnecessary to keep up the charade. And why do I still don this silly, unwieldy, unconvincing disguise? To be rewarded with the cheap treats of approval and maintenance of the status quo, to have my head patted by the religious and familial trick-or-treatees in my life. To really beat the analogy to death, then, I'm realizing that I don't need to stoop to this level anymore--the "fun-sized" bits of pseudo-validation have lost their appeal forever. I can be my own person--my own man, if I may be so bold as to gingerly try on the term; I can, in short, use my own abilities and my own merits to go and buy a king-sized candy bar, of my own choosing, whenever I damn well please!
(Please keep in mind that I can speak only to my own situation. We all have different paths and different circumstances, so please know that no one loses respect in my eyes simply because theirs is different than mine. If you are feeling offended or slighted right now, rest assured that I am not condemning or judging the decisions of anyone, except perhaps myself.)
So, I have one last door to knock on--I'm so close to the house giving away Eagle Rank bars that it wouldn't make sense for me to quit when one of the few prizes that approaches being worth it is nearly within my grasp*--and then it's off with the mask...forever. Next metaphorical Halloween, *I'll* be the one with the candy bowl.
*Some background: the BSA has fought to the Supreme Court (literally) to ban "avowed homosexuals" from its ranks, hence a moral quandary eventually resulting in my above resolution to not judge others' decisions.