Stereotypes: Take off Your Blindfold and Look Through My Eyes
June 1, 2011
The following thoughts used to go through my mind every day: I'm too scared to be me! How can you love me if you don't even know who I am?
I have even contemplated suicide.
It's hard to pinpoint what exactly made my life so difficult. I know that the problematic images of other gay people on television and in the media didn't help me feel better about myself. I knew I was gay, but I didn't want to be what television told me I had to be: Flamboyant, with arched eyebrows, with ear piercings, someone who takes drugs and sleeps around.
I'm sure my own father played a part in my fear as well. He hated gays and called them "faggots." He would look at people crossing the streets and call gay men disparaging and offensive names or refer to these men as "embarrassments to even be a called men." One day, we were watching a television show that had a gay character and he looked directly at me and said that if I was ever gay he would disown me.
Every time he made those horrible and homophobic statements, I knew that he was really talking about me. So, for the longest time I kept my mouth shut and would never stand up for myself.
As I got older, I started being more free and open with who I was and my sexual orientation. I admit that for the first few years of being out, I loved the nightlife and did silly things to flaunt off my stomach in the club. But for the first time, I finally belonged somewhere and for once I was accepted. But clubbing wasn't really about accepting who I was; I was still running from myself.
And the company I was keeping wasn't the best for me either. I began to realize that most of these "so called friends" were just that -- "so called." They weren't there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on, but they were there to hand me another drink and reaasure me that alcohol would cure my problems. Little did I know it caused more -- leading to more and more sex and a reputation of a person that people didn't even want to hang around.
But I can't blame others for my behavior. I was acting out and being a diva because I wanted to. I was so bad that I was even given the nickname "Queen B of the IE" (Queen Bitch of the Inland Empire). Being the Queen B meant everyone either loved me or they hated me; there was never an in between. I always got invited to the best parties, never had to wait in a line at a club and knew everyone in the scene. I thought I was all that, and acted like it too.
I was proud of this nickname and got a rush every time someone would call me it.
But my reign had to end. One day my best friend Stephen, whom I'd known for 7 years, turned around and told me that he hated me because I was a stuck-up self-absorbed bitch. That really hurt me. Your best friend, someone I considered my other half, should never hate you. I let him down. Because I had turned into my own greatest fear: I was the typical gay stereotype.
I wanted to change, but didn't always really know how. But one day while watching this movie on television, the lead male character said the most beautiful thing to the troubled girl he loved. No one ever saw the good in her except him because he looked deeper than just seeing the mask she wore. He leaned in and said to her, "Why do you try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out."
I remember feeling like that quote was meant for me. If I never heard that actor say that quote I would still be the lost, troubled gay guy.
I love my life now that I get to be me. I'm 25 years old and the director of sales for Winborne Entertainment, I have a family that loves me and accepts me, but most of all now when they hug me, I know they are hugging the true me, and I couldn't ask for more.
You see that while television is slowly getting better at portraying the LGBT community, we have a long way to go. Because negative and one-dimensional portrayals of us only helps the ignorant and closed-minded people stay the way they are.
There is nothing wrong with being gay. We love, mourn, cry and bleed the same as straight people. My words of advice to other LGBT folks who are scared to come out and scared to be the real you: If no one else in your life accepts you for you, just know that "I do."
Be proud of who you are and love like there is no tomorrow.
Steven Villa, 25, is from Rialto, Calif., and is the director of sales of Winborne Entertainment, the creator of www.NoMoreDownLow.TV, which represents the African American and Latino Gay Communities.
This article was provided by TheBody.
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