Dear Papa Bear,
It's been several years since we've spoken. There have been many things in my life that have happened to me and around me. I recently sent a justifiably angry letter, as both a prayer and out of reluctance, to my mother, telling her that she needs to change her homophobic ways in order to have a relationship with me. It's not what I wanted to do, but I had to do it because it was the right thing despite the heartache in having to send such a thing.
People have different reasons for coming out and not coming out. I came out because I had no choice, and I wanted to do the right thing, not because I wanted to embrace it; and it hasn't evolved further from that. I had to drop a lot of things to get to where I am today, and now.... And now.... I'm scared about the person that I'll eventually become.
Lately, I've been playing along with a lot of people's likes, hoping that eventually I'll end up getting used to hearing these terms, whether it's drag, or queens, or twink, or bears, or leather, or certain people that people look up to because, in truth, I don't really like any of those things/terms. I just use them to boost people up as well as because I thought I'd get used to hearing them. And, I've almost made it my MISSION to not fall into any category to show that gay people are just what they are: people. Not by what word or feeling they choose to define themselves.
But I see it around so often now, and it's so high in concentration that I feel like I will be assimilated eventually into those terms/things. It is so overwhelming. I want to tell people to stop. I want it to stop. I can't deal with it anymore.... But what point is there in saying that if all I'm gonna get is a retort, if people are gonna do the same to me despite being outnumbered?
It's almost as if I have to accept that God, as part of destiny or fate, may make me a bear, since I have a thing for masculine men, and ... that's it. Like, no matter where I go it's how its gonna be. And I wish there was another answer. Is this how it is? I want to run TOWARDS something. Not away. And I've been running away a lot. There's a lot of fears that I have to face, and what if I'm not strong enough?
I guess what I'm trying to ask is, "What's gonna happen to me now?" I understand I am in charge of my own story, but since God made me who I am It sure as hell doesn't feel like it.
* * *
The question here, if I'm not wrong, is how does a gay man avoid becoming part of a stereotype, such as bear, twink, leatherman, etc., yes? And the corollary is why does being gay seem to be an overwhelmingly defining characteristic of a person?
You are correct that we should not allow being gay or bi or trans or any sexuality like our defining characteristic. Straight people don't go around introducing themselves as heterosexual at business meetings ("Hi! I'm Bob! I'm a heterosexual project manager!"), so why do we expect this from gay people? I remember Jim (my late husband) telling me he would not run for public office because he didn't want to become "openly gay candidate Jim Fordyce."
The reason this is forced upon us is because American society is so fixated on white, straight, Christian people being the "norm," and everyone who doesn't fit into that category has to somehow justify their existence. Wrong on so many levels. Whether you are an African American or Hispanic American or Jewish or Muslim or gay or trans or whatever, we have all been oppressed and discriminated against in one form or another by the "normal" Americans (which makes "normal" rather repugnant, in my opinion). Because of this feeling of alienation, people like you and me are always trying to fit in to some other group (it is a powerful part of human nature that we want to belong somewhere). I've done this unsuccessfully for years. I mean, I see myself as a bear, basically, but don't really feel like I have been fully accepted into that community, and there are many bears who say I'm not one because I'm not fat or hairy enough. Whatev. Sheesh.
I don't walk around this planet constantly thinking of how I am a gay man. I'm just Kevin Hile. In fact, I think of myself more in terms of being a writer, editor, and publisher than about being gay. I think of myself as a Californian. I think of myself as a furry. Honestly, being gay is about fourth on the list. We have made a lot of progress in this country, building on the struggles of earlier generations, for this to be possible for me, but, sadly, we have taken a backward leap in recent years....
You are correct that you are gay by birth, yet our sexuality is just a small part of who we are as human beings.
What happens to you now, you ask? I suggest you pursue finding out what your passions in life are, how to be a good person, and how to discover what is important in your existence. Do not allow other people to define you or tell you how to run your life. Do not worry about being a joiner or follower. Be the captain of your own ship. It is YOUR life, and you only get one crack at it.
I'm sorry your mother has a difficult time accepting you. We all want approval from our parents and loved ones, of course, but we do not have the power to change who they are. All we can do is leave the door open for a time when, hopefully, they change their minds.
In the meantime, you are 26 and have a full life ahead of you. Take the cards you are dealt, place your bets, bluff if you have to, and win the biggest pot of cash you can with what you've got.
It might be cliche, but be yourself and don't give a fuck what others think. Just be a good person, which means never hurt other people. Be kind to people, nature, and Earth. That's all you need to remember.
It took me about 50 years to figure that out. Hope you are quicker about it than I was.
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