Much of our lives is about making decisions–right ones and what some would call wrong ones. But is there really such a thing as a wrong choice, if it, too, leads you down the path of better understanding who you are and who you want to be?
As Terrence shows us, even when we think we know where our paths will take us, we should expect to make some detours and U-turns. Why? Because they are necessary to getting us where we need to be, and will push us to find ourselves, again.
If there was a movie inspired by my life, in the first scene, you would see me sitting in a chair in a dark room with my eyes closed at my current age. I’m watching myself up on a screen, showing me as a child with my parents. You’d see I’m very much a mother’s boy. My father was there but he worked two jobs and wasn’t really present as much as he may have wanted to be. Even though he wasn’t there, I still strived for his approval because I looked up to him.
You’d also see that I grew up in New York in an area that was rural and predominantly white. So for the most part even though I’m a man of color, I didn’t see many other people of color–outside of my own family and church members–until I was in college. As a result, for a lot of my life in college and beyond, I was trying to figure out not only who I was as a man, but a black man, in a world of people I barely knew existed.
Growing up, I was was groomed to become a pastor of my family’s church in New York. I was naturally expected to get married, have a child, and do all the things preachers were supposed to do. People didn’t know I struggled with my sexuality, which ultimately made me leave the church for a while later in life. But eventually I did still get married, had a child, and all of that. After a couple of years in, my wife and I separated. That’s when I finally experimented with men.
I haven’t been single since I was a junior in high school. It’s only recently that I realized my biggest fear is being alone. Now, I have to figure out who I am…and to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. But I know it’s something I have to do.
When I was first with a man, it felt really good, like I should have been there my entire life. But when I got my first boyfriend, things didn’t turn out like I’d hoped because he was abusive. I assumed that because men are expected to be strong, brute, and aggressive, it was natural for a relationship between two men to be that way. So when we would fight, I thought that’s what we were supposed to do.
It wasn’t until we separated that I realized all men don’t do that, and that being in an abusive relationship wasn’t okay and I deserved more. Shortly after that, I found a church in DC that was affirming and accepted me as a black gay man. That allowed me to return to my spirituality.
My last boyfriend and I dated for six years, but several months ago we decided to call it quits. We had a relationship that was very open to the point that we could do whatever we wanted, but that eventually caused friction because what he wanted was different from what I wanted. It was a very difficult decision to end it because I loved him a lot, and I know he loved me deeply.
I haven’t fully learned who I am yet because I went from a marriage to a woman to a man…now I have to figure out who I am and how I identify.
I haven’t been single since I was a junior in high school. It’s only recently that I realized my biggest fear is being alone. I’m so big on being social and in a space connecting with people, that’s how I’ve always been. I’m used to being in a relationship and in love with someone. I don’t know even know how it feels or looks to be single or alone, and it scares me. And when I think about why I feel that way, I really don’t know why that fear is there. I just know that I’ve always been around people all the time. That is where I feel the most comfortable.
Recently, a close friend of mine told me that I haven’t fully learned who I am yet because I went from a marriage to a woman to a man. He said that now I have to figure out who I am and how I identify. It’s time to learn what it means to be a gay man and to understand exactly what that means to me. And to be honest, trying to figure all of that out scares the hell out of me but I know it’s something I have to do.