"And when I die....When it's my time to go....I want to come back......as me"
Well The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has gone and done it again...they have gone and made something so beautiful it made me cry dammit. Thanks a lot guys. I was wondering this morning what to write about for Easter when I stumbled upon their video for the making of "Testimony". The song is a collaboration project with Broadway producer Stephen Schwartz and can best be described as a musical interpretation of the "It Gets Better Project"....and most especially of the deep feelings behind what made that project necessary. While I have often wondered if the It Gets Better Project was reaching those who most need to hear it, I have never doubted the ability of honestly sharing our stories to make a positive difference in someone else's life. After all, it is one thing to intellectually realize that you are not the only one...it is something else to experience that reality in the shared experience of others. There was a time in my life when I could not imagine saying the words of the song above. That is why hearing 250 beautiful voices singing the way I felt almost twenty years ago reduced me to tears and had me singing along with them. Check out the video and join in the conversation to share your experiences with us.
These men just sang my soul completely....I can't count how many times I prayed that same prayer every night. "God take this away....I don't want to be like this." I knew to the core of my spirit that if I allowed myself to accept that I was gay it would mean that I would lose everything....my family, my friends, the comfort of my faith, my hope for the future. I would be utterly alone. Every time I failed to change I blamed myself...something had to be wrong with me. And by a slow process of soul erosion, I learned to hate myself. I think this is why I could not come out at an earlier age as so many do. I hear their stories about knowing when they were not even teens yet and I wonder why I couldn't. Yet again, was something wrong with me for not knowing sooner? I mean...all the signs were there. But I guess that old thinking that there is something broken in you dies hard.
But just like Jesus going into the tomb....sometimes we have to go into that dark and fight those battles with ourselves first. We wanted to hard to be who we thought we had to be in order to be loved and that need is so great that we will fight until we haven't the ability left anymore. I fought and pushed it all down so far until I couldn't see it any longer. I could continue to pretend that there was nothing different about me...nothing that would cost me everything that I held dear. When we feel we are in danger, we resist...it's a natural human reflex. It is counter-intuitive to believe that our struggles can be resolved through acceptance. For me, being gay was an impossibility and so I fought on. I was too fearful of what would happen to me if I committed suicide...but that didn't mean I didn't think about it or sometimes wish for a way out. But caught between not being able to accept the truth about myself and not believing I had any way out....I continued to struggle on repressing how I felt and hating myself for not being good enough. This was the war in my mind that eventually ground me down to nothing. Eventually that struggle became unbearable...and so I just accepted that I must be fatally flawed as a human being. I prepared myself for hell because I could not fight anymore. I felt I had failed to resist the temptations for too long, that I must not be strong enough or faithful enough....and so I gave up on myself.
I was just living because I didn't think I had any other choice. Eventually, I finally decided that the battle was too much, it was time to figure out why it was do wrong because who I was, wasn't real. And so I began the journey to figure out what was so bad about being gay. The "why?" became all important. "Why was I gay?"..."Why was it wrong?"....And while that first exploration might have been to the gay and lesbian aisle of the bookstore, it felt like a mammoth step away from everything I ever knew as good. I felt like a criminal.What I did not understand then was that those were my first glimpses of light outside the tomb. My steps may have been fearful, but they led me to my first gay friend...who led me to the youth group where I met others like me....and that in turn led me to my first boyfriend, and so on.
Up to this time...I had kissed and been with my fair share of women. Those were all great experiences that I remember fondly. But the first time I kissed a man....it was like taking my first breath. As great as my relationships with women had been...so much had been missing that I could now clearly see. The pairing of desire and love had never been their before and now experiencing them together was a feeling of being alive that I had never imagined possible. For all I had been taught, I could not imagine how this could be worth so much condemnation. The light seemed to be growing brighter as I was stepping further out of the darkness.
Today, much time and much life have gone under the bridge. I wish I could say that coming out could instantly undo the damage of the past...but it doesn't. For myself, that has been a life long journey. The tomb leaves it's mark. But for all the doubts that may linger about my past....I have known so much love that I can never ever regret. No matter what others may say that I am I would not trade the moments of love(or desire) I have known for anything. I can look at a beautiful man and think of the ability to appreciate him as a gift and feel thankful to be who and what I am. I have a beautiful husband and family that mean the world to me....old doubts can't hold a candle to any of that. The phrase, "It Gets Better" actually seems like a huge understatement sometimes. That phrase could not take in how it felt to stand with my husband on the aisle of Corfu watch the rise of the biggest full moon I had ever seen. It can't convey the electricity of our first kiss together or the feelings I would have rocking my daughter to sleep for the first time or watching my son grow into a young man. I can't imagine what my life would be had I not first given up the fight for the fake me to find out what life could be as the real me. As bad as it sounds, I am glad I gave up. That....is my testimony.
Listening to The SFGMC sing these words made me feel like I should have been there singing with them and I can say that, if I got the chance.....I can say today, that I would want to come back in another life...as me.
Until next time dear readers.......
P.S.....Many of our readers know of the work we sometime do with Videographer and fellow YouTuber Sean Chapin. He is a good friend and a member of the SFGMC. He is also responsible for filming the "making of" video for Testimony and for collecting the accounts of the chorus members. I want to congratulate him and the entire chorus for a job well done. The song itself and the making of video are both truly wonderful. Thanks for making me cry Sean...