Jacob Nordby thanks his gay friends around the world for demonstrating for us all the courage to be different.
I need to get this off my chest. I love you. You are amazing. I know, that word is just about as overused as awesome, but I mean it this time. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Here’s some backstory you should know first. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian cult. We didn’t live in a compound with barbed wire and guns, but we might as well have when it came to relating to anything outside the borders of our beliefs. Everybody who wasn’t with us was called “the world”, and they were scary and bad. I’m talking about people who smoked cigarettes and went to movies here. Being gay was so far removed from our reality that it might as well have been in a different galaxy—the one next door to Hell.
A funny thing happened when my own younger sister came out, though. I couldn’t shove her off into the neat little (sinful) box called “the gays”. I loved her. She was someone who had been part of every waking minute for most of my life. There wasn’t much I could do except see her. I couldn’t wear my judgmental goggles with her. She was my sister. She was a human. She was, like all of us, hungry for acceptance and love in this world. She changed me. She is my friend and fellow traveler through life.
And that’s one of the reasons I say you are amazing. You have been willing to do something that strikes fear in the heart of almost every self-aware creature on earth: be openly different from the rest of the world.
I mean, you’re the same as the rest of us humans in so many ways. You draw breath, you eat, you go to work, you relax on the weekends and drink beer, you pay bills and mow your lawn and whatnot. But what you aren’t willing to do is pretend something you’re not. Thank you. The world is completely bone weary of pretending, but we just don’t know how to stop. That’s why you are amazing. You stopped pretending.
I love you for your courage. I love you for living through the pain of not fitting in. I love you for moving the needle of society just a little bit every time someone finally admits their secret that they aren’t like the others.
Many of you are my friends in places around the world where it is safe to be gay, but I know that’s not true everywhere. If you live in some country which still openly persecutes people for living their truth, you are risking your life or personal comfort by refusing to stay in the closet any longer.
We need you.
We are tired of living in the boxes we have created and maintained for ourselves and each other. You weren’t content to just be tired, though. You broke the box for yourself. You showed us all that there is life after being different. Thank you.
Because we live in an age during which nothing stays the same for very long, but we work hard to hold on to those few shreds which seem to. We stress ourselves out just trying to keep something together that makes sense.
But the fact is, nothing is going to make sense any time soon. This goes for everyone: gay, straight or just confused. What I love about you, my gay friends, is that you admitted this before most other people. Somehow, through what must have been your own private hell at times, you just bucked up and confessed that you weren’t going to help keep normal together anymore at the cost of your soul.
So, yeah. I love you. You are an example to us all of what it means to follow our hearts. You have been working it for a lot of years now and I’m happy that the day has come when you are no longer ostracized, outcast and forsaken as you once were–not as much as before, and not everywhere. You are helping us make the world a better place. A more accepting place. A place where humans can live together.
You, and all who live raw, courageous lives are the ones I’m talking about. I love you. Thank you for being here.
You can’t know this right now, but your ragged, rugged honesty
Your crazy passionate, naked vulnerability
Your trusting plunge into the unknown of life at every turn
Your journey of love and healing…
These change your world, the world of those around you, and the world as a whole.
Someday you’ll know how important you are.
I know. You probably didn’t set out to change the world. You probably just want to be loved and accepted as you are. I do love you–and you are helping to change the world.
Photo Credit: The men in this picture are Paul Boynton and his partner, Michael Wynne. They are an inspiration to me and hundreds of thousands of others around the world. Paul wrote Begin With Yes and leads a huge community on his Begin With Yes and Being Gay Becoming Gray Facebook pages. Mr. Boynton also appeared on Blessed Are The Weird radio show to discuss Coming Out As Yourself. You may listen to him talk about his own journey via podcast here.
Author’s postscript: I read this article to my 17 year old son before publishing it. His reaction was, “Dad, you’re making this quite a bit more dramatic than it needs to be. I mean, equality is really about a bunch of humans just being human, isn’t it?”. Of course, I wanted him to be stunned by my literary prowess, but I realized immediately that his attitude reflects the general feeling of our younger generations–and that is a positive thing. The fact that he thinks all of this isn’t a big deal and doesn’t deserve long expositions means that things have changed in mind boggling ways in only a couple of decades. In other words, we are making progress and our young people are telling us that they are already free of most of our old baggage. Yay, humans! Perhaps if we all stay with it for awhile longer we can get a lot better at seeing each other as just that. Humans. Until that time has fully come, thanks for being here as catalysts for this kind of change.