Excellent letter by Sam Smith in The East Tennessean (ETSU's student paper):
I was 20 years old when I came out of the closet. Before that, there were plenty of family members and friends elbowing me and winking references to my need for a girlfriend or at least a Jessica Biel poster in my room.
At first, I appeased everyone and agreed with them. In high school, I kept an Angelina Jolie poster by my desk in journalism.
I allowed very unappealing girls to flirt with me. I avoided talking to guys, fearing I might find one of them compatible enough to share my belief that a Casey Affleck poster would be much more up my alley.
As can be expected, I dated no one until college. When you repress yourself, you tend to ride the wave of monotony and dissatisfaction.
Feelings of anger, failure and loneliness are sharpened by the everyday rejection of happiness, independence and companionship.
Developing through teenage years is annoying enough without the suffocating expectations of people who don't know you, combined with the regionally dominant religion and its damning pick-and-choose usability.
Before I knew better, I considered myself an abomination.
If Leviticus 18:22 said my innate preference for men made me a turnip, a razzmatazz or a Barcalounger, I would have been ashamed of myself for being a turnip, a razzmatazz or a Barcalounger.
The word, however, was "abomination" and it took years for me to realize that oppression, even in a book that has been adapted and recycled for centuries, is the real abomination.
People have been murdered for the color of their eyes, hair or skin; and people have been murdered for their transgender, bisexual or gay nature.
I wonder how many more disasters and diseases the world must have before people are no longer killed but valued for being alive?
I'm currently of the mindset that the odds of my existence are one in a "measureless-illion." Multiply that by 6 billion and you have an estimate of the odds that you and I are the ones sharing the only known planet that offers oxygen, merry-go-rounds and Hayao Miyazaki.
The odds of our existence aren't very probable, but the odds of our coexistence are much more in our favor.
Homophobia is about as logical as anatidaephobia (the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you).
When I was in the closet, your average homophobe was just as miserable and insecure as when I came out. To go from denying yourself to being yourself is an adventure. To continue fearing those who are not like you is a shame.
I came out to my mom one summer nearly two years ago because I was going through a particularly volatile relationship with my best friend-turned-boyfriend.
I felt like I had no one who would understand, which struck me that day as a completely moronic feeling.
If I didn't have my parents' support through the end of a pivotal and poisonous situation, then I was cheating them and myself by not giving us a chance to function on a deeper level as family.
After all my years of angst and the weight of "Why is Sam always single?" on my shoulders, my parents understood and never expressed a doubt in my ability to make them proud or their own willingness to love me for who I am. I have heard of others who were less fortunate, deserted by friends and disowned by family.
When I was closeted, I feared I would be left without someone to understand me. That kind of fear reminds me of the pain I felt when I fell from a tree and broke my right arm in two places.
Pain can be instantaneous or it can fester for years, but there will always be someone who is not only happy but obligated to help.
My email is zsss44 [at] goldmail [dot] etsu.edu. If you need a good listener, or if you're wondering who Hayao Miyazaki is, please don't take several years, like I did, to ask for a little inevitable conversation.