Community.

I’ve known I was gay since I was pretty young. It’s not something I’ve ever been particularly shy about, although there have been many times when I’ve wondered if I would have been better served keeping it under my hat for a longer period than I did. Nonetheless, my sexuality has never really been an issue for me on a personal level. I was bullied sure, but there was never a period where I doubted myself, or wished I was different  – so I’m grateful for that.

However, as easy as it was for me to accept my sexuality, I’ve never really felt like I was part of a “community” because of it. In high school, the only time I was approached by other gay people was when they were interested in sex – beyond that they all made a very intentional effort to distance themselves from me, for fear of their sexuality being brought in to question (which would, of course, have made them a target for the same abuse that I publicly received). So instead of being supported by those in the same boat, I found myself ostracized by them – with a few going out of their way to join in on the bullying to help maintain their heterosexual facades.

As a result, I’ve somewhat struggled to “feel the love”. In fact, it’s only in the past few years that I’ve really become aware of the fact that there is “love” to felt. When I was first starting to explore my sexual identity, I remember signing up for a number of LGBT-oriented forums and receiving nothing but hate when I made my presence known – with complete strangers mocking me for my “ridiculous” red hair, “obvious vanity” and youth. Needless to say, I didn’t visit those forums again. I eventually signed up to another forum shortly after moving into my own house and, whilst I never really felt a sense of “belonging”, I began to see that there was more than just sex and hostility out there – which was a pleasant discovery.

It wasn’t until I watched Queer As Folk for the first time that I began to feel like I was missing out on something, however. Up until then I had been quite happy to make do with the friends I had and just accept the fact that talking about my relationships and desires wasn’t appropriate. Girls didn’t want to hear it, guys really didn’t want to hear it, and I just accepted that. However, after watching Queer As Folk I not only realized that I deserved to be able to talk freely, but that I really needed to.

Sadly, this awareness didn’t change the fact that I lived in a very… regressive area – and as such there was little community to be found there. I mean, I did eventually discover an LGBT group for the local area, but it meets in a town just over 100 miles away from the area it’s supposed to represent (making it incredibly impractical for me to visit), and whilst I signed up for the groups newsletters they always seemed far too mature to relate to. These people seemed to have the answers already, and that wasn’t what I needed – I needed to find people who were still working things out, so I could work it out with them. Because as much as I’m a part of this community in theory, I have no idea how to be a member in practice.

My recurring desire to leave my hometown has partly been fueled by these feelings, and as my departure is finally becoming a reality I’ve started to contemplate the potential this move has in regards to these matters. I’ve become aware of an LGBT group that meets weekly at the campus I’ll be attending, so with any luck I’ll finally get a chance to see what this “community” thing is all about. It could be an integral part of my personal revolution, or it could be a completely superfluous exercise in decadence. Or it could be neither. I guess only time will tell…

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