"Storms make trees take deeper roots."
But you can just call me “Rue.”
Everyone else does.
"Storms make trees take deeper roots."
But you can just call me “Rue.”
Everyone else does.
February 23, 2014
All I can say is this: I am as gay as you are straight, which is to say that I shouldn’t have to talk about it or announce it to the world in order to make that fact any more true or any less real. It is irrelevant; I live and breathe and hurt and love like anyone else: from the heart.
In this day and age, however and unfortunate as it is, I must talk about it. Regardless of my adverse stance against the idea of having to defend myself, or “come out of the closet” as you will, I understand that we still live in a society where silence is deadly, where freedom is only real when heard, and where many gay youths are still dying literal deaths in and around that figurative closet. As such and more importantly so, many have thrived from escaping that tiny hell-hole, and have used the opportunity to make a beautiful and glorious scene in doing so.
I don’t want to make a scene.
I do not want to be a spectacle for your amusement, to sympathize or apathize or marginalize. That is not my intention. The intention is to simply and publicly recognize myself, to pay respects to myself and the 26 years I have spent on this good, green earth, and to the future years I fully intend on living.
I don’t want to be in the closet.
I hadn’t any inclination that I was in one until the world told me so. They tell you to “come out” and you say “come out of what?” You find yourself in a game of Hide n’ Seek that you don’t remember starting and can’t imagine finishing. That’s when you realize there is a wall between you and the rest of the world.
When did it suddenly become such a struggle? (“It” being the mere act of living)
Maybe one day, you see a kid in the schoolyard push another kid down to the ground while he calls him a “fag” which instills that initial fear. Maybe you went to church for some clarity and guidance and the minister spends an entire hour preaching on how you’re going to hell for your sinful ways, and your only hope for salvation is to do the impossible, to change what you cannot, so you bury yourself into your shame.
Then your friend kills himself, not because he was gay—never ever because he was gay—but because some punk kids with shitty, absent parents bullied him to death for it.
Suddenly, you’re in the closet.
That’s how it happens. The world puts up four small walls around you with the tiniest amount of square-footage, and you let this happen because you are now fearing for your life. There’s not quite enough space for you to move your arms and legs about but just enough for lung-expansion, allowing for the shallowest of breaths. People call this “breathing room.” I call it torture.
One day, however, you decide to unlock that door. You realize that none of what has transpired has to matter anymore. You are not made of the past; you are the present and the future, and you have enough shit on your plate to deal with without also having to deal with those archaic forms of hate and homophobia.
That’s what I’ve decided.
I want to enjoy the freedom to live in the present, unabridged. I want to live as though it is now the future, where global acceptance for gay people (and everyone for that matter) is a standard of living, where living true to one’s self will not require an inordinate and unnecessary amount of courage and bravery.
As with any marginalized group fighting for civil rights, the future is unfortunately always that place where peace and acceptance resides. We know that the movement is heading in that direction; our future incarnations will taste the freedom that we fought for. For now, we stand together against hatred and bigotry. Against the likes of Arizona legislature and Russian anti-gay laws, we stand together. As for me, I stand alone at the dawn of a new horizon and the precipice of a new day, and all I can say is this:
I am as gay as you are straight. I shouldn’t have had to talk about it or announce it to the world in order to make that fact any more true or any less real, but in a show of respect for myself, as well as the many young boys and girls who were never allotted the opportunity to do so, I am doing so, now.
and hurt and love
like anyone else in this world:
from the heart.
"You made a friend today:
kindred soul, cracked spirit.”
-Sia Furler “Numb”
I met a man at my store the other day who was buying some tools to do some repairs on his beat-up, run-down old bike which he rode in on. It was a steel cruiser that looked like it was cruising its last stretch of good, paved road. He had ridden in on it and you could practically hear him coming in from a mile away by the sound of it going “ker-chunk” as he approached.
He came in looking to buy some sort of tool to fix an issue with the rear cassette. I don’t have enough cycling experience yet to know what it was he was looking for—I pointed him towards the direction of our bike shop but he graciously declined and opted to help himself. Whatever, I didn’t know how to help but I humoured his good nature and proceeded to converse.
He spoke about how his bike is in constant repair, how there always seems to be something wrong with it. He was probably riding that thing down into the ground but the smile on his face told me he was having a hell of a time doing so. Innocently, and as non-judgmental as possible, I asked him why he doesn’t just bring it into the shop. He smiles, and says that it’s his bike; his one and only. He loves the satisfaction of knowing that he’s put in the good effort in keeping it running, an effort that he couldn’t expect from anyone else. He says “Sure, there are bad days, lots of them, but you learn so much about yourself during them. Sometimes, your hardest days are the best ones.”
I didn’t know this man but the smile in his eyes told me he somehow seemed to know me. He asked me if there is anything in my life—something irreplaceable, something broken—that I continue fixing up. I smile, brows lifted towards his poignant inquiry, and simply concur. We bid each other adieu as he mounts his bike and prepares to embark.
The last I remember of our interaction is his warm smile as he rides off into the streets with the faint, familiar sound of “ker-chunk” rattling from his steel cruiser. I walk back to my station, still perplexed as to how this man spoke to me as if he knew me. Perhaps it was some sort of kinship. Did my heart go “ker-chunk” as I approached him? Did he hear me coming as well? I wonder if he could hear me coming from a mile away.
The other night at REI, I was helping a husband and wife with their holiday shopping. Darrell was his name, and then there was Pamela, one of kindest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
It was a slow day at work so we had the chance to chat a while on various subjects: personal holiday traditions, their children and grandchildren, and other pleasantries. I noticed she was being a bit flirtatious with him which tickled me a bit because they were a bit of an older couple. I don’t want to generalize but I don’t see older couples flirting very often. I believe I called them “off-the-charts adorable” at some point in the conversation. I couldn’t help myself; I’m fairly reserved, never so forward, but they were so cute together, I just had to mention it.
After some time, I took them over to the registers to ring up their purchases. The wife noticed the brand new assortment of themed gift cards we recently started selling. She grabs three holiday-themed gift cards and states that her children will “love them!” Her boisterous character humors me. I ask her how much she’d like on the cards.
"$200," she says.
I ask her if she’d like that amount broken up a certain way.
"Oh no, dear. $200 each!"
My surprise must have humored her. I’m very modest with money, with what little I have, so I don’t often see it passed on in such large amounts. She says to me “I bet you wish I were your mom right now, huh?” I think to myself: “This charming, vivacious woman is perhaps my favourite person in the whole wide world right now!”
After the addition of the gift cards, their total had reached upwards of $800. She looks over to her husband and gestures him to the register.
"Oh, I guess I’m paying for all this," he says.
Brazenly, she responds, ”Well, I’ve been your trophy wife for so long; you oughta be used to it by now!”
At this point, my heart has melted. I was grinning from ear-to-ear and I was hiding it horribly.
"He always laughs when I say that!" She confesses.
The husband is chuckling, I assume at the idea that the dynamic of their relationship still revolves around this woman being a trophy wife after so many years. I find the whole situation to be unbearably adorable.
After the commotion dies down, the husband pulls out his credit card to pay. Before then, however, she turns back to the assortment of gift cards and slips one more into the purchase.
"Oops! Forgot one!" she exclaims.
I gleefully ask her how much would she would like on this card. She tells me to put in another $200. I say “perfect, we’ll make today’s purchase an even grand.” She winks agreeably and the husband pays for the items.
They now gather their items and prepare to embark. I thank them for their time and bid them a wonderful holidays. I tell them how much they’ve brightened my day; news which she seems to be pleased by. The husband collects the bag of items and makes his way out of the store. Before the wife leaves, however, she shakes my hand one last time and wishes me a Merry Christmas, with a level of sincerity that I can’t even describe.
Her heartfelt greeting touched me so much. I was left for the next moment smiling aimlessly at the scene that had just transpired. I was so touched, in fact, that it wasn’t until she was almost at the front door when I realized the gift card she had left in my hand during our final goodbye. I look back up—jaw dropped, brows raised—to find her smiling back and giving me a cheerful wink, the same way I imagine Santa Claus would do so to a little boy who had just witnessed him leaving presents beneath the Christmas tree. I try to gather enough fortitude to murmur a barely audible “thank you. ” She gestures to let me know that she heard me, and before I knew it, she was gone.
Just a week ago, in a melancholic state, I wrote a poem [unpublished] that went something along the lines of: “I want to believe in angels but I have no proof that they exist, but the demons, they fly around me everyday.” Well Pamela is proof. I truly believe she is a real life angel sent from above to bring joy and happiness to the world. Her kind spirit and good nature alone was gift enough for me. Her cheerful presence is a present anyone could appreciate and thrive from.
The $200 REI gift card was simply icing on the cake.