Like most people, I was a kid once. Merrily going about my business, doing things that kids do. I remember standing on the corner of a street one day, on my way to the local fish n chips shop to go play my favourite arcade game, when I looked to the side and saw a man, dressed up as a woman. I was shocked, and wondered what the heck was wrong with that person, or if it was just a damn ugly woman, who happened to look like a man.
Later in life, I would learn from my father that, the person I saw, was indeed a man, and was called a "moffie". A homosexual. I took a strong dislike to homosexuals.
Kids grow up. I did to, apparently. High school was an interesting time. A lot of things happened. One such thing, that I just remembered; A friend and I were sitting in a cafe, busy drinking something, it was a very hot day. At the table next to us, sat two, rather average looking people. Being the hyper-observant person that I am, I noticed that one of the two people was speaking with a strange, nasal accent. Not American, just, nasal. He was using words like "doll" and "dah-ling". He was also very, erm, in touch with his feminine side. My friend curled his lip, and remarked in a hushed, but angry tone, "God, I hate gays."
I nodded, and resumed my drink. I didn't say anything, for the fear of my friend asking if I knew what the word "gay" meant. I didn't.
After a while, the word started appearing more and more in my thoughts. Things that I don't understand, generally bother me. I went to my English teacher, whom I had a great deal of respect for, and casually asked him if he could tell me what the word "gay" meant. Being an English teacher, he remarked, "someone who has a pleasant demeanour, or happy". I was confused. Why did my friend call those people, "happy", with such an angry tone?
It was only much later, at the age of 15, when I started realizing the truth. Or at least, part of it. For the most part of my life, or at least, what's happened of it so far, I always assumed that if a person was homosexual, or "gay", he wanted to be more like a woman. Some even went as far as to get an operation which... well.... you get the idea. To be honest, I didn't like it. A man, dressed as a woman, was always ugly to me. (And to be even more honest, still is.) I found it morally wrong.
I thought there was something wrong with these people. I wondered what could have happened, that would drive these people to want to be the other gender. I wondered a lot of things.... one day, I wondered why the hell I was thinking about men more than women. Panic.
For a short (but what seemed to be an eternity), I fell into a depressed panic, trying to find out what was wrong with me, why I was thinking what I was, what had caused it, and how I could fix it. I feared, that I was turning into a happy person. I was afraid. I became withdrawn, moody and very silent. When a once bombastic and talkative person, suddenly becomes dead quiet and paranoid, someone is bound to notice. Someone did.
A few people did. But nobody assumed, not even for one second, that I, might be..... gay. My parents thought I was doing drugs. My friends thought that I was involved in some illegal arms smuggling, or something. Others thought I was just being weird.
Like me, everyone around me associated gay, with feminine, and wanting to be a woman. Im of the handsome type. Blue eyed, blond, fair build, kind, helpful, creative. I didn't fit into their "gay" category, I still don't. Fearing for my.... well, afraid, I ran into a library one day. I took every dictionary, and wrote down the definition for the word "gay". I read every article and book I could find that had some relation to the word, and the other words associated with it. Fagot. Homosexual. Moffie, and so fourth.
I was a strange time for me. None of it helped. Nothing helped. I was sure, that something was wrong with me. That something had changed me, disease, or mental illness. I then decided, that its nothing more than my imagination. It had to be. I could not find any other explanation. I could not rationalise it, or explain it. I could not put it in a way, that made sense, except that it had to be, just some whacked part of my imagination.
Then one day, at the tender age of 17, I broke down. I could not lie to myself anymore. I tried to deny, to ignore, or even to forget the feelings inside me. I just could not let go of the truth.
I ran home, and pulled out a box from under my bed. Inside this box, I kept all my drawings, all my sketches and doodles which I had accumulated over the years. I had been drawing for a good 7 years now, and it was quite a collection. Everything was sorted under categories, "Cats "Dragons" "Demons" "Dinosaurs" "Dogs" "People" "Mice" "Misc".
I could not but smile at the hefty box of my imagination. Of all the places in the world, of all the things that would be able to explain my thoughts, here, was my encyclopaedia. Here was the guide to my head.
I quickly pulled out my favourite folder. Dragons. I still remember when I drew my first dragon. It was a horrible sight, I admit it. Misshapen and devoid of all proportion. A friend said that I should just not bother, and to spite him, I continued. Not because I thought I had talent. I didn't. I continued drawing dragons, to spite the person who said I shouldn't.
As time went by, I got better. Its something that happens. My dragons were different. In contrast to the popular view of dragons, which is that of a 4 legged beast, large and regal, my dragons were more "human". Anthropomorphic, the word I later learned. I had been drawing the same dragon over and over for a good 3 years, and as I paged through my book of sketches and drawings, I smiled at how the proportions got better, muscle definition appeared, became more defined and realistic, facial features developed, the wings started to fold, and stretch, claws became sharper, the tail received more movement.... and it was always a male.
I preferred it, I thought to myself. I tried to explain it by saying "its because it's easier, to draw something I know about. I'm a male. I, thus, know more about drawing males." It was a rather lame excuse, but it served its purpose. It made me realize, that I only had lame excuses. I, had an admiration for the male body. I enjoyed drawing the soft stomach muscles, the strong biceps and triceps, the calves, thighs and back muscles.
I quickly packed my drawings away, shoved the box under my bed and strode outside. I had made up my mind. I liked, who I was. I enjoyed, who I am. I didn't want to change. I had no reason to.
I finally understood what homosexuality meant. "To like the same sex".
As I sat outside in the sun, looking out across the fields that were behind the apartment blocks where I lived, I thought about the male dragon I constantly draw. It was always the same male, with his soft smile, his well developed body, teasing tale, content attitude and welcoming posture. There was nothing feminine about him. I had grown to like this dragon. I named him Miktar.
Miktar became the symbol of my being. He represented who I was, and my feelings. He was also a constant part of my fantasies. In my dreaming of a perfect world, he was the perfect friend. One who always understood me, was able to bear my moods. He was always there for me. One day, I wondered, maybe, just maybe, if I had a crush on him. I did. I loved him. I loved what he represented. I still do.
I'm 18 now. I was a kid once.
I've had people say that its a disease, that can be cured if you sleep with enough women. I've had people say that its nothing more that a sick perversion. I've been called immoral. I've been called unethical. I've lost friends because if it. I've been hurt because of it. Its caused me more pain that anyone should ever have. Its been a burden. I once hated it with all my being, and if it had been someone I could have clawed out of my body, I fear I might have.
But I didn't.
Its not something that goes away. Its not a figment of my imagination. Its a truth, nobody can change. Its who I am. I learned that there is no gay stereotype. It was once my source of shame, but now, its my pride.
I am gay. And damn proud of it.
About the author:
Ed is a self-proclaimed computer-graphics artist who enjoys reading, singing, writing, music, movies, comic books, computer games, walking, fresh air, riding in the back of jeeps, sleeping on busses, dancing, looking at the moon, laughing out loud at jokes, taking baths, adoring himself in the mirror, smiling at people when he doesn't have a clue what they are talking about, and drawing the same dragon over and over.
He currently lives in South Africa, is single and looking to immigrate to America.