By Brett Martin
Trying to recount all of the moments that led me to where I am currently sitting, is to say the least, daunting. I'd like to open on a positive note; I am currently 29 and aside from the quickly approaching “gay” middle age of 30, I am the happiest and healthiest I've ever been.
I have scribbled this little 500-word essay more than a few times, trying to paint a vague picture of my experience busting through the closet doors. I simply cannot get it all in here. As such, I have decided that I will give you the shortest version possible without leaving out anything juicy.
I was born into a Roman Catholic family in the middle of nowhere (Northwest Ontario). I grew up in a small conservative “village” with limited access and resources to not much more than hunting, fishing and camping.
Realizing that I was queer at a young age, I knew, based on frequent comments from parishioners, community and family members, that who I was, was not acceptable in society and especially not in the eyes of God. The odds were against me.
I have had some dark moments living in a rural setting surrounded by wilderness. With no more culture than an A&W food joint would permit, I don't need to go into much detail about the constant abuse from the local hyenas. I can assure you that it was debilitating, constant and evoked a level of self-worth that required the occasional vomiting session to wake up the next day.
My two aha moments: The son of my father's esteemed colleague attempted to rape me and was successful to a point. I knew all too well the ramifications of a social stain such as that on the white collared shirt of my family. I only recently broke my silence to my mother over risotto and a nice vino rosso. She wasn't surprised.
Then, a local minister wrote and published a terrible article entitled “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I can assure you it was completely false and riddled with bigotry and religious justifications. I, in turn, wrote a rebuttal shaming my community and it's “leaders” at a time when Canada was on the cusp of legalizing same-sex marriage. That's exactly how I came out, via my town newspaper.
My story is much longer and much more dramatic than I've led you to believe, but that's not why I am here. Everyone has a story, a sad one! I had a rough time coming out to my family and was called all sorts of names. I wore a hoodie and earphones to protect myself from the constant abuse. I didn't speak to my father for a number of years and left home because of an emotional mother. You know what they say, sticks and stones, but blood stains need club soda!
Now for the good stuff: I am happy, healthy and my family is part of my support system. Time passes and you travel, work, fall in love and something amazing happens - you meet the true you, your true self.
I agreed to write this in hopes to convey to you that you are not alone. I was there, sometimes still am. Sometimes, time needs time. Things do change and get better. The best revenge I have learned is to live well. Accomplish your dreams and goals; they are yours and yours alone. The people who matter will love you unconditionally and the ones that don't will vanish into the background. The important thing is that you stick around to see both happen. You are worth fighting for, just as I was.
Bruises heal, but ending your life is the period in the sentence, which you cannot edit. You are much more than a punch line. You are human, queer and beautiful.
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