The life of an outcast is one that is full of troubles, but we all manage to push on.
The Story of the Outcast
You never really understand how to feel about life until you're completely sick of it. The way people are, how they behave, how you behave, and how you should behave. Everything is practically planned out from birth, controlled by the unwavering hand of a society that blindly stumbles ahead toward the cliff of self-destruction. That's the scary thing, too; you can't tell whether or not the cliff is near or far to you, whether the angry mob of society is pushing you over and if you'll be able to save yourself before everything comes crashing down to the bottom. On the one hand, you can join society and try to “go with the flow,” which would inevitably result in your own doom. But on the other hand, you can scream your head off and try to persuade society to turn around and stop the madness, and maybe you'll do that. Maybe, by some miracle, you'll make society see the error in their ways, and turn them around before it's too late.
Like that would ever happen.
The way I see it, there's no stopping society. It's a runaway train that not even fortified cement walls could slow down. It's going over the cliff regardless of who tries to stop it. The only thing we can do it enjoy the ride while it lasts. As outcasts, we have the “luxury” of seeing the world for what it really is: fake. No one is true, everyone lives behind the mask of who they wish they were. Hell, I won't lie, I'm the same way. I hide behind a mask that is the same color as society's mask, the same mask that makes me blend into the crowd of liars and become one with the uniformity. Uniqueness is a curse, something that is frowned upon by those with the masks. Even those who never asked for uniqueness, those with disabilities, whether mental or physical, those who simply drew the short stick financially, those who just don't belong. We all have something that betrays us from the rest of society, which is why we wear the masks. Without the masks, we're exposed, and if we're exposed, we're better off dead.
“Just be yourself,” society cries as it stomps out those that are different. The funny thing is that they believe their own words. They truly believe that everyone should be themselves, but only if “themselves” is the way they are. What kind of a screwed up culture does that? Mine does.
My story starts like anyone else's story, an average guy living in a small town aspiring for something more. It's your typical setup for a story of epic proportions, except there was one problem. That kid from the small town aspiring for something more wasn't like the rest of the people in his town. He had one roadblock that sought to destroy his very existence. He was gay. That's right, readers, I am a homosexual. A queer. A faggot. Call me what you will, that's who I am. Ever since 6th grade, I noticed that the guys in my class who talked about those “hot chicks” enjoyed something that I didn't enjoy: women. I can recall trying to understand how they got any excitement out of seeing half-naked women that appeared on television, or even the completely naked ones that appeared on their computers. They would turn the screen to me and await my reaction with bated breath, and I would laugh and try to make my facial expression match theirs, so they wouldn't get any ideas about me. In 8th grade I got my first girlfriend, Sam. Sam was an amazing girl. She was cute, nice, and had a bubbly personality. Then she tried to kiss me. I had pulled away from her face as she closed in, confused. I couldn't understand why this girl I had been close to for a few weeks was trying to kiss me. See, the only reason I had gotten a girlfriend was because the trend of my classmates was to be in a relationship, so I figured that was what I was supposed to do, so I did. I never felt any form of physical or sexual attraction with Sam, she was just fun to be around. I broke up with her a few weeks after the kiss.
10th grade I started becoming desperate. Maybe it's all a phase, I told myself. I would grow out of it, after all I was a late bloomer, as my parents said. So I got another girlfriend, hoping that I would become different and not have to awkwardly stand in the corner of the locker room to change while all the guys stripped down to their boxer briefs in the center of the room, passing punches and chasing each other while nearly nude. I would be like them. I wanted to be like them. If I could be like them, then I wouldn't be fucked up. I would be normal. Of course, the relationship I had recently acquired didn't last long. The fact that she was far from pretty didn't help, either. Regardless, I was alone.
At this point, there was no one I could go to. My parents had told me that if I ever got a tattoo, they'd cut it off my skin, an earring they'd rip it out, and if I ever, ever, turned gay they'd disown me forever. That ruled them out. The fact that most of my friends made “fag” jokes ruled them out as well. I was completely alone, or so I thought. I became very religious my Junior year of high school, seeking out the unconditional love of God, and I prayed every night that he would fix me. I prayed that he would make me better and I could forget that I ever had a gay moment in my life. For a few weeks I believed it had worked, but it hadn't. I prayed even harder for the next year of my life, but after entering my Senior year, I began to realize that it wasn't working. I became an atheist halfway through my Senior year, and when my parents found out about that they weren't pleased. As youth pastors, they felt that kicking me out of the house was the only thing they could do. Only they didn't. They changed their minds as I was packing and instead talked to me and yelled at me for choosing my “new religion.” They asked me why I had chosen it, and I was momentarily at a loss. The real reason was, obviously, that I was gay and no amount of prayer had changed that. They couldn't know that though, so I put on my first mask on: science. As someone who had excelled in science throughout high school, I knew they would believe the mask. So I told them I needed evidence of a god, which I could not find. Evolution was thrown into the mix, along with a couple of other scientific theories and ideas that could be used against religion. Donning my scientific mask, I pressed on, confident they'd never find out who the man behind the mask was.
By the end of my Senior year, I became depressed. Very depressed. I never attempted suicide, but it crossed my mind occasionally. I was slowly starting to understand who I was and that I could never change that person. The dream of growing up, getting married, and having kids was shot down, along with the dream of ever fitting into the world. The dream of finding someone to find love with was drastically cut down, as I would be able to look at approximately 3.8% of the adult population, and that number covers both men and women. So around 1.6% of the population of the United States of America would be the amount of people I was interested in. Less than two percent. All these factors combined with some minor reasons caused depression to slowly take over my life. I became a shut-in and stayed at home every night of my life, wanting to be away from people that may realize who I was. Here I put the Mask of Exhaustion on. Anytime someone wanted to spend time with me, I simply told them I was too tired to. I wasn't tired, though, just hurt, too hurt to fake a smile to be around people. It became my excuse for everything. It was a sad, miserable existence, but it was existence. I pushed on, and then became friends with one of my former bullies, Courtney. Courtney was a girl who didn't care what people thought of herself. She was hilariously entertaining, and had a heart the size of Texas. I grew closer and closer to Courtney, but I sensed something coming on that had crept between many friendships before: romance. I could tell she liked me in a way I could never like back, and it scared me. She was the only friend I had become really close to, and I didn't want to lose all that because of something so petty. So, one night during on of our “therapy sessions” as we called it, I told her something I had told no one else in the entire world.
It was late at night and we were parked by some old trash dumps near my home. We were listening to music on our phones and talking about problems in school and the like, when suddenly I realized how romantic the mood had the potential to become. After a pause in conversation, I took a deep breath, then started talking.
“Court, there's something I have to tell you.” I said, looking out the window into the darkness.
“What is it?” she asked. I hesitated, my heart pounding, and changed my mind.
“It's nothing, nevermind.”
“No, tell me. What's wrong?” She begged, turning my head toward her. I looked into her eyes and felt the one thing I had craved for so long. I felt compassion. She cared about me. She actually cared. I knew in that moment that no matter what I said to her, she wouldn't see me any differently. I suddenly choked on my words, unable to say what I wanted to say, and instead reached for my phone. I changed the song to a song that Courtney liked about gay people, “Make it Stop” by Rise Against. As the chilling children's voices echoed through the speakers, I looked back at Courtney to see her reaction. Her jaw dropped before she could get the words out: “you're gay.” It was more a question than a statement, but I instantly burst into tears and leaned against the window, feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and unloved. That's when she saved me. She grabbed my shoulder and pulled me into her loving embrace. She held onto me and stroked my hair as I sobbed into her arms, and she cared. After I recovered from my breakdown, we talked about it and I explained everything to her, and that's when she told me that she had had a slight crush on me. I apologized and we laughed and talked about how she “kinda knew” I was gay and various other topics. I knew then at this moment that since someone cared, life was worth living, and suicide was not the answer. No matter how rough things got, I had at least one person who would understand and help me through it. That was all that mattered.
After graduation, everyone started going their separate ways and I went on to college. I grew apart from Courtney, though we still met up on every other weekend to hangout and talk. The lack of therapy sessions with her drove my depression to a new high, now coupled with the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My parents encourage me to go down the medical field, which I wanted to do, but after reaching my Junior year I realized I in fact did not want to do it. I changed my major last minute to English and began planning to become a lawyer. It would be perfect. After graduating college, I could pursue a degree in law and then move away to a bigger place to get a job. Then I could be myself and not fear the rejection from my family. It was a perfect plan. But Mom was onto me.
“Why do you wanna move away so badly?” she asked me. Mentally calming myself, I turned to her.
“Well, this town is just too small for me. I don't want to spend the rest of my life here.” And I'm a faggot.
“Have you found a girlfriend yet?” she asked immediately after I had finished my sentence. Shit, she knows, I thought. Why else would she ask that right after asking why I wanted to leave?
“No, I haven't.”
“I'm not interested in a relationship.” I replied. This was the Mask of the Hermit. I had retreated to my former anti-social ways again, and it became the reason for my lack of romantic relationships. But suddenly I did become interested in a relationship. In one of my classes, I first saw him. Theo. Theo was about my height, had skin the color of caramel, brown eyes, and short curly black hair. He was amazing. I spoke to him one time in that class, and the entire time I was positive he could hear my heart beating. I added him as a friend on Facebook and got an adrenaline rush when he accepted it. My entire body was weakened when he liked one of my statuses. I had it bad, no matter how much I didn't want to believe it. Then I saw a picture he had posted. It was a newer picture, trust me I would know. After poring over every picture he had, I knew it was new. The picture was simply black text over a red background and it read, “Keep calm, I'm a future lawyer.” I felt like divine intervention had happened right before my eyes. To me, it seemed that our fates were doomed to be intertwined and we would be together forever. I messaged him nervously one day, asking him about his career choice. We talked for a few minutes, then he never messaged me back. My dreams were plagued with his face, and upon awakening I realized I wanted to go back to the dreams more than I wanted to go on through the day. Depression hit me the hardest it ever did that year, and I considered suicide more times than I'm proud of. Drawing every ounce of willpower I had left in me, I kept going, hoping that maybe one day I'd be with Theo, and if not, someone.
This is where I am in my story, and I don't know how to proceed. I don't know what to do or how to behave, so I'm stuck. I want to tell my parents I'm gay, but doing so could cost me their love and could cost me a home. I want to be myself, but not if it means being shunned from society. Then again, who decides what society is? Not the outcasts, that's for sure. Not people like me. It's the ones that oppress people like me. The ones who think I chose this life. Like I want to be gay, when the truth is, I would do anything not to be gay. To quote a cheesy Linkin Park song, “All I want to do is trade this life for something new.” Those words hold true to me more than anyone knows. Despite our therapy sessions, Courtney never knew about my suicide thoughts, nor will she know about the ones I have now. I don't plan on telling her, as she has too much on her shoulders without worrying about me.
All I can say is something I've silently screamed out to everyone around me, hoping someone would just see that I'm drowning and get my head above water like Courtney did. I hope the ones who hear me next are my parents, and I hope that they understand. I hope that they can see the signs I've subtly laid out before them and realize what I am and then confront me about it, forcing me to tell them who I am, because God knows I'd never tell them willingly. Mom, Dad, please hear me.
Please help me.