In the fall of 2000 I entered into a our high school which would leave me with all of these memories haunting me for many different reasons. I, like many of my former classmates, was scared and was on this quest for people to like me. Being a little socially awkward at times sure didn't help my situation and although I made a lot of people in my grade 9 class laugh, they eventually grew tired of this energy which had worked for me in the past to make friends and feel a little better about myself.
As I look back, I tried too hard to make friends and although I made people laugh, not many people got to know the guy that was struggling to live a happy life. Sure, I may have appeared happy on the outside but inside was a completely different story. Struggling with certain passions on the inside that I was told were sinful and just often wondering if God still loved me even as a child, feeling most close to God than any time in my life.
Maybe it was because I was going crazy on the inside with these struggles of mine that I struggled to get to know all of the wonderful people in my class. The ones that I started to get to know often seemed to have other friends that they connected more with. While I don't blame myself for struggling, I can see how those connections with other students just didn't happen. I wasn't being myself and for the most part, the only part of myself I was comfortable sharing with people were my wacky sense of humor and my faith in God.
Due to my own personal struggles with self identifying myself due to the passions I looked at as "impure", I'm pretty sure that I hurt some people. I was one of those guys that made fun of people for looking "gay" or even called people "fag". "Sticks and stones", I suppose but there were some moments that I really am not proud of besides the name calling. At time I used my struggles of religion and my affectionate desires as a fear tactic onto others.
Yes, I was one of those people that at times told people that being gay was "sinful" and a "damned lifestyle". I remember one time in particular when I did an oral presentation on the subject in Mr. Swales grade 12 English class. Telling people that "they can change" and that "they're only gay because of insecurities within their gender roles", when all that I was really doing was making fellow students feel like there was something wrong with them... That the passions they feel for individuals of the same-sex was something to be shamed rather than embraced with love.
I felt like that if I spoke out against what I was going through, that maybe I would get enough courage to diminish my attractions towards the same-sex. Maybe in doing so, I committed "social suicide" with my peers. As I look back today, I was the one to be shamed at that time.
Today I live with my same-sex partner in a lovely apartment in downtown Saskatoon and the reality that I face is that our love is no different than anyone else's. But also that I have this guilt that lies within my heart while wondering how what I said to people in high school has shaped them in who they are today. Have the words that I said struck gays and lesbians in a way that they felt they couldn't come to terms with themselves sooner or ever? If that is so, and any of them are reading this, I just want to let them know how sorry I am and that you will indeed see me at our reunion in September. If you need to let it all out and tell me how much it hurt you for me to be so homophobic, I am willing to take it.
Every time I think about the homophobic words I said back then, I say a prayer for those people it may have affected. I pray that they find the love in their lives that they deserve and that their lives be happy and blessed. Because no matter what anyone tells you or whichever belief system you follow, what matters most to humans is that we find what we desire most in life, especially when it comes to love. It would sadden me to hear that any of my classmates never found what they deserved, especially when after so many personal struggles, I did. It's also never too late to attempt to fulfill those dreams.
Your former classmate,