Content warning: the following story contains references to a person's process of coming out as gay, there is uncensored use of derogatory and homophobic language, as well as references to depression and anxiety, which may also be triggering for some readers.
"I am Ready to Live," Nevan Doyle
So. It’s been a year since I came out as gay I guess. That’s pretty wild. To be fair though, it also makes sense. It’s been one of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced. I can now confidently say though, that whole ad campaign with the “it gets better” stuff?
Yeah. It’s super accurate.
Basically every day there’s something I do/say/experience that I never could’ve imagined a year ago. Becoming myself in the public sphere is one of the most exciting and life-changing thing I’ve been through. Things that I once saw as weird and almost fetishized behaviors are now just a part of my public self-expression.
An example would be my long-time enjoyment of tighter clothing—especially within the pants department. I used to look forward to spirit days because it meant I could wear tights without anyone questioning or giving me weird looks. I felt incredibly uneasy about how much I liked the feeling of tight pants, as if it was a sign of femininity or something that was just not okay. This was during a time I focused all my efforts on avoiding being asked the dreaded question “What are you, a fag?”
Just a few weeks ago though, my literal BFF Alex gave me a pair of her jeans. They just so happened to be one of the most comfortable and better looking pairs of jeans I’ve ever worn—they’re also skin tight as heck. Being able to wear them in public AND feel great about it is one of the more liberating things I’ve experienced.
I could go on and on about all the ways I’ve been able to truly express myself honestly in public. I imagine to others I’ve changed considerably over the past year, but I really feel like that change has just been me becoming more myself and learning to be more in tune with my true personality/mannerisms.
Even things like being conscious of how my voice sounds every time I talk have started to fade away. I probably sound slightly more “gay” to the average straight person since coming out, but it’s really just me being able to talk the way my brain sounds when I have all my thoughts. To be able to allow myself to let go of that careful analyzation of my voice has allowed me to really break free of my shell in social situations.
10/10 do recommend.
It’s been amazing to let go of so many of the social anxieties I had before I knew I was gay. I’m able to comfortably and confidently talk to strangers and engage in meaningful conversation for the first time in my life. The connections I’ve made since have helped to expand both my career and personal life.
For most of the time since I came out publicly I’ve worked as a cashier and barista at a coffee shop. It’s been an interesting way to be forced to become more comfortable with myself. Interacting with hundreds of strangers every day has given me a lot of insight into the types of micro-aggressions marginalized people have to deal with every frickin’ day.
From being hit on (I was usually oblivious unless my coworkers said something) by total strangers to comments like “wow you dress so well for a guy” to the countless times people assumed I was straight and made creepy comments about my female coworkers (typically involving how much self-control I must have working with such pretty women… More like please throw up in my mouth you pathetic horny asshole.)
I’ve also slowly worked through the checklist of things people (sometimes white girls) say to gay guys -
“Oh I love the gays! I had a gay friend who blah blah blah blah”
“Oh I totally know another gay and you two should meet!”
“We should go shopping sometime!”
“I wish you were straight”
“You two are so cute, you know I totally have always supported gay marriage”
It’s honestly been a slight source of entertainment to check all of these off. I’m excited to see if I can get BINGO or something with this shit.
While there’s been some depression, some annoyance/frustration, and a lot of emotional roller coasting all the way the heck around this place, I can’t believe how much better my life is compared to a year ago.
It’s been so frickin’ wild to go from thinking of sex as something that I might have to do some time if I met a girl I cared about enough to realizing that actually I’m just really great at putting penis in my mouth.
I spent the majority of my life assuming that I’d never feel physical intimacy with someone on that level. It actually really messed with me. When I watched the 40 Year Old Virgin I remember thinking “yeah that wouldn’t be too bad honestly.”
After learning what it’s like to be a physically intimate person, I’ve realized how much I was denying myself out of fear. As I’ve had the time to ponder my upbringing I’ve realized how much resentment and disgust I have for my hometown and the kind of culture that’s brewed there and remains stagnant for generations on end.
I’ve realized that through my adolescence nearly every behavior I had was carefully crafted to avoid anyone possibly thinking I could be gay. For example, I wanted to wear those skinny jeans like all the cool kid punks but there was no way in hell I thought I’d be able to get way with it. Folks woulda been calling me a "gay fag" all dayyyyy. I wasn’t ready or able to confront that AT ALL.
During one night of heavy thought I realized that the first time I can remember the idea of being gay becoming something I knew about was on the school bus. I was in fourth or fifth grade and one of the older kids, Ted Vaughn, called one of my friends a faggot. When I asked what that meant some one explained to me that it meant they were gay and liked other guys and like, ew.
This memory resurfacing was huge for me. It made me understand that before I could even begin to have sexual thoughts or urges of my own, it was instilled within me that being gay was bad and something that other people would try to hurt you over. Whether verbally or physically, I saw plenty of evidence going through school that backed this up for me. There were countless acts of homophobic and downright intimidating behavior I saw within many of my peers. In a small town like that, it’s dangerous to not fit into the norm. Any challenge to thought or perspective is immediately dismissed. Talking to many of my friends of color, I’ve realized how much I hid out of fear, and how much less I was personally attacked because of it. It’s like my brain was denying my sexuality to keep me safe.
My bully on the school bus is one of the biggest reasons I become so afraid to be myself so early on. Luckily for us he’s now a police officer in my hometown of Philomath. It’s almost like, TOO predictable, right? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I found that out, but it perfectly encapsulates the small-town rural way.
All throughout my teen years I defended marriage equality unabashedly with my Christian friends. What I didn’t know was that all that time I was actually defending myself. When the Supreme Court ruled marriage equality to be a constitutional right, I cried. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but even then, I think at some level, I knew.
To sum it all up, for the first time in my life, I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin. I’m ready to tackle the world and ride it all the way to the top or until I get bored and move to the woods or whatever. Fuck Philomath, fuck the conservative christian mindset that fucks up so many rad young queer people and imprisons them with fear, and fuck anyone that tries to stand in my way after all the mental gymnastic-ass bullshit I had to go through to reach where I am today.
A little more than a year ago I was at the darkest point in my life.
Today, I’m ready to live.
About the art:
Nevan gave me A LOT to work with in his writing, and I definitely identified with pieces of his story - especially since I'm from a rural farm town where no one was out and any references to queerness were derogatory. I loved the idea that skin-tight skinny jeans were freeing, and I knew he wanted bright colors - so I took that and ran.
After some trial and error, I liked how this piece turned out, shot it over to Nevan whose first response was "lmao I fucken love it."