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IT GETS BETTER: Wait 'Til the Facts Are In
by Kirk Williamson

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See Kirk read his essay on YouTube:

The biggest problem with being young is just that: you're young. When you're 13 or 14, there is precious little hindsight or opportunity for retrospect. While it's a bit clichéd that with age comes wisdom, it's true in the sense that with experience comes wisdom and at that age, you are only just beginning to experience the world in an independent sense. You haven't necessarily been equipped with the tools you'll need to deal with some of life's most pressing issues. Unfortunately, it's also at that age that these issues begin to press… and press hard.

I first became aware of my sexuality around the age of 11. I had begun to fantasize about other boys in my class, and while I never made this known to anyone, I carried on my fantasies with no hint of shame. I had no idea that these fantasies were sexual in nature. I had been raised to believe—to KNOW, rather—that boys will be attracted to girls at some magical crossroads called puberty. Therefore, I "knew" that sex was something between a man and a woman and I "knew" that when I became a man, I would have sexual feelings towards women. If I knew then what I know now…

I finally put two and two together after reading some horrible little book brought home in earnest by my mother. It was one of those everything-you-need-to-know-about-your-changing-body-with-a-Christ-focus books printed to assuage teenaged confusion. It only served to exacerbate mine. I remember two passages most clearly.

The first was a frank description of sex, complete with body parts this and engorged that. It didn't take me long to draw the connection between what this book was describing and what I had been doing in the locked bathroom while dreaming about overnight stays with my school chums.

The second passage is the one that struck me the hardest. In this 200-page book, chock-full of everything I would need to know on my journey into adult Christian sexual expression, there were exactly two sentences on homosexuality ( trust me, I did a thorough search ) . Paraphrased slightly, these two sentences were: Homosexuality is a terrible condition in which people are attracted to those of the same sex. But you don't need to worry about this because it rarely happens to good Christians. Great, now not only do I have a condition, but I'm also a bad Christian!

I never chose to be who I am, I merely came to the knowledge that I am who I am. I never sat down and planned to be gay. I was taught that if you "chose" to be gay, you would have to suffer the hellfire consequences of that choice. Fair enough, I thought. A blazing eternity was sufficient impetus for me to make the "right choices." But I never chose this. How was it fair that I was facing the ultimate punishment for something over which I had no choice? My logic then, with all the knowledge I had, was sound: I must just be a bad person.

Meanwhile, the bullying at school only served to further this hypothesis. It was becoming quite clear that, at the very least, I was not like the other boys. And they spared no opportunity to remind me of that fact. All I knew about being gay I learned from the misguided passages in that adolescent tract from Focus On the Family and from the mocking tone of voices that accompanied all my newly acquired nicknames, such as "faggot" and "cocksucker." I wasn't sure who I was yet as a person, but I knew I did not want to be who I was turning out to be.

And that's the main problem with being young: All the facts are not in yet. I was convinced at that time that I was innately evil and flawed and I really, truly did not want to live. While I never did anything about it, I clearly recall a certain staircase in my high school. It was three stories high and spiraled around an open area that went straight down to the first floor. Many times I figured it would be easier to jump from the railing and plunge headfirst into the speckled green linoleum than to face the taunts and teasing I received because of something deep inside that I hated as much as the teasers and taunters did.

But something told me to hold on. It was not Jesus. It was not social or familial responsibility. It was not even fear. It was the feeling that some way, somehow, things might get better. And they did. Things got much better, and not just for me.

Now that I am older, and the facts are in ( for the most part ) , I live my life as an out, proud gay man. I am the art director of a gay newspaper and the editor of a gay magazine. Every morning I report to work I am proclaiming, "I am here, I am queer, let's get the job done!"

I know that God does not hate me; the truth is quite the opposite. I know that I am happy, healthy, fulfilled and fabulous! While I am not particularly religious, I still live by the basic tenets of good faith: generosity, kindness, caring, humility, love.

And above all else, I know that I am extremely glad that I held on. Had I not, I could not be writing this essay in the knowledge that perhaps just one set of young gay or lesbian eyes might see these words and have that same glimmer of hope for a better future that made me who I am today.

Kirk Williamson is the art director and a senior account manager for Windy City Media Group ( WCMG ) , in addition to being the managing editor WCMG's Nightspots Magazine. He is a published writer and poet.

See Kirk read his essay on YouTube:

IN THIS ISSUE [ LINK HERE OR FROM THIS ISSUE'S MAIN INDEX ] Anti-suicide project reflects on cases DePaul vigil remembers teen suicides by Tracy Baim by Toni Weaver by Amy Pirtle by Bobby Pirtle by Eric Marcus by Alexandra Billings by Caleb's Story by Karlis Streips by John R. Cepek by Judy Shepard by Lee Lynch by Kristi Keorkunian by Joshua Plant by Chris Hill Trevor Project Chicago events Stopping Bullies in Illinois Mother of Slain Teen Gwen Araujo Addresses LGBT Youth Suicide by Sylvia Guerrero by Carl G. Streed Jr. by Thom Bierdz by Kit Duffy by Vernita Gray by Wancy Young Cho RESOURCES QUOTES

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Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
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responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

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