This was a bit harder to write than I thought, but I pushed forward, and finally finished it. Hope you find some insight to your favorite Panda and why I am who I am.
Ever since I was little, I knew that I was different, but it wasn’t until Lent, 1997 when I decided that I had to deal with it. As a young, naive pre-teen, I had the anticipative urges that every boy has. But they weren’t towards girls; they were towards boys. As we progress through Lent, and during all of the reflections and also the craziness of Jr. High life, I began to acknowledge that I might be gay.
Now, this wasn’t a term that wasn’t welcomed in my home and I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, for fear of retribution, ridicule and isolation, so I began journals where I put my thoughts, ideas, and stories that were happening in my life. And of course as every good Jr. high student hid them in my “secret’ spots. For the next few months I filled journal after journal with my life. That following summer, I headed off to camp, but before leaving, made sure that I had hidden all my journals in my “secret” spots.
So after securing my journals, we headed off to Hillsdale, Michigan for MASTA (String Orchestra Camp), my first week long over night camp. it was one of the best weeks I had ever had. Music, fun and new and old friendships were born and rekindled. On the final day, when my parents returned to pick me up and watch us perform from our week long rehearsals, I was looking forward to sharing with my parents what I had learned. However life had other plans. The minute I hugged my mom, I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but they were acting differently towards me. As if they were struggling or pretending to be glad to see me. Throughout the entire day this continued, and all the way home this feeling of awkwardness hung over us. During our dinner at a restaurant I knew that for some reason my parents couldn’t talk or connect with me anymore. When we got home, my parents let my brother watch the Lions game that was on while they pulled me into my bedroom to talk.
They pulled out my journals and writings.
My heart sank.
You know how the phrase goes “the ground pulled out from under you”, well it was that day,when I learned what it was referring to. I panicked. As my parents began to talk to me about how it was not God’s will to be gay, and that they loved me and that they would help fix me no matter what it took. That I could get help. They would help find a shrink for me to speak with or talk with our priest about it or even send me to a camp or school that would help get me back on track and get rid of these horrible thoughts in my head.
I felt trapped. I was too afraid to lose them and my friends because of this horrid thing I was becoming. So, I became a coward, and I raced back into the closet, denying all of it. i told them what they wanted to hear; I was lying and that I was just pretending about what I had written. I told them that they could throw away those “lies” I had written down and after our talk, we did just that. We threw away the evidence of who I was becoming, in hopes that I wouldn’t end up becoming that person. I turned my back on my Lenten promise to be true and honest about myself, because the threat of fear, rejection and isolation had scared and shaken me to my core. It was then I hid my true self and ran towards who I was expected to become. I wasn’t a nice person, during that time. I hurt so many, in order to keep up my facade. I felt I had to. I couldn’t lose my friends, family or life, so I hid within myself and became who they wanted me to become. I stopped reflecting during Lent for the next few years, for fear that I would bring back up that person I was desperately trying to keep at bay.
And this concludes the second part of my journey. I hope you’re finding it interesting or insightful or even both.
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!