“To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can ever fight and never stop fighting.” ~e.e. cummings
I’m gay. I’m married to a woman and we have a beautiful daughter together. I also have an ex–boyfriend that I was with for quite a significant time. Most of my friends are straight, and I thought I was too until about five years ago when I fell in love with my now-wife.
It was a crazy time, and I suddenly had to deal with being different than most of my friends.
I was extremely lucky because I had a huge support network of people who loved me no matter the gender of the person I loved. There were many that didn’t get it and treated me differently or completely cut off contact.
That was hard, and it took me a little while to deal with it. I would get upset easily and then seriously wonder what the hell I was doing. I almost considered walking away from it all.
Thank goodness I came to my senses and realized that love is love, and I was going to spend the rest of my life with this person no matter what. I learned to deal with the negative people and discovered three sure-fire ways to make sure I didn’t let them get to me.
I worked at it, and at times it was difficult. I found that by remembering these three things I was able to get through it to where I am now perfectly fine and happy being different than most people I know.
1. Stay hell bent in your belief of yourself.
I knew that no matter what happened I was a good person in love with an amazing woman. We weren’t hurting anyone, and I came to realize that if she can put up with me all the time, then I’m going to keep her around!
I knew that we were seriously in love and no one was going to keep me from being happy. As long as we had each other, we were okay. I really believed in the love we have, and still have to this day.
Believe in yourself and who you are deep down. Know that you are a great person with so much to give to this world. If you have self-belief, then no one can ever bring you down unless you let them. Own it.
2. See it as an opportunity to teach others.
Like I mentioned, many of my friends are straight, and they were under the impression that I was too until I surprised them one day. So along come the awkward questions: “Did you always know you were into women?” and “Does this mean that you don’t like guys anymore?”
Instead of getting frustrated, I decided to use this opportunity to teach others about being in a same-sex relationship. This was vital once our daughter came along too, and we are so open with anyone that asks about her conception and any other questions they might have about her existence.
We use it as an opportunity to teach that families come in all shapes and sizes, and that a child can thrive with two mums or two dads as much as they would having both a mum and a dad.
Use whatever is different (or, as I like to call it, rocking) about you to teach others.
Sometimes people just don’t realize, or are ignorant to things they don’t know much about. Once people know, they tend to change their tune. They become supportive because they have more of an understanding. People are just scared of what they don’t know, so inform them.
3. Surround yourself with your cheer squad.
You know those people, the ones that always have your back no matter what situation you get yourself into. Those people are always going to support you and give you sound advice.
Use them to your advantage whenever you need. Call them, hang out with them, and make sure they are around you to keep that resolve that you have burning strong. You need them. Guaranteed they don’t think that there is anything different about you anyway.
On the flip side, don’t give your time to negative people. You don’t need to be around them. Let them slowly drift from your life. In their space bring in the positive people. They will lift you up.
Not everyone has access to this cheer squad. Sometimes you're out there on your own, and that’s perfectly okay. You have a few options here to maintain your strength and self-belief.
One is to write affirmations to yourself and put them in places that you will see often. They should include the traits that are awesome about you. When you read these you’ll remember that you absolutely rock. They’ll help pick you up if you ever get down.
Another thing along the same lines is to put alarms in your phone throughout the day saying the same positive affirmations.
At noon, I get a message from my phone that reads “You are a gem. You are caring and thoughtful and beautiful just as you are. Stay true to you.” Thank you phone, you are so lovely!
If you need a bit more connection than you would get from your phone, head online. There are so many forums, support networks, and websites that you can access to talk to people going through the same thing as you.
These people will become your tribe and your online cheer squad. The beauty of the Internet is that you can use an alias and not your real name. You can remain anonymous and still get access to beautiful people in a similar situation to you.
We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the unbelievable supportive people that we have in our lives. We don’t feel different, and although our situation isn’t normal, all the people in our cheer squad make us feel like it’s a non-issue.
It doesn’t define us as people. It is what it is and all our people are totally cool with it. They make it so much easier for us. We are very lucky.
These three things helped me deal with the shame and embarrassment I felt initially when I told people about what was going on. I didn’t really “come out,” as they say. I just told everyone that I was seeing someone and she was a woman. That was it—although at the time it was one of the scariest things I have ever done.
In the end I had no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. It was crazy to think that everyone would have an issue with it, and although it wasn’t smooth sailing all the time, it was easier than I expected. It can be for you too. I promise.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. You're not doing anything wrong, and these days the majority of people are more open about sexuality than in previous generations. This is the same no matter what’s rocking about you. There is a lot more understanding in our world about uniqueness and differences.
Embrace your differences. That’s what makes this world of ours so magical and interesting. Don’t change to be like anyone else. You are unique and beautiful just the way you are.
Different image via Shutterstock