Beginning when I was 9 years old homosexuality entered my peripheral through knowledge of AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, attaching a dark stigma of death, separation, and sensationalism to homosexuality.
Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied one another until shame became my core identity, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs. I was incapable of trusting my own emotions as a compass for living; I felt shame for being abnormal or wrong, that my failures would bring unnecessary drama. There was no developed skill to ground myself in the present, and being in the moment and staying observant without judgment of my own emotions. The parts, believed, that would force support networks away are believed to be shadows of our true place in the world. I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me, believing I was a failure.
I made masks for acceptance based on the expectation others had of who I was in relation to them. I created an untrue place in the world, a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed, amplifying the most acceptable of myself. I sanded off the more off kilter interests, such as poetry and Southern literature, and less culturally mainstream – comic books, cartoons, and fantasy. I buried what I did on weekends with
I didn’t want to give a reason to have the spotlight on me. I lived in fear that my masks would not be viewed survival, but would be duplicitous, bring about rejection from others. I became paralyzed by the intense feeling that I would be ignored or thrown away. What didn’t lead to being ignored was compliance to others’ needs. It was easier to serve another than to assert myself. The very nature of my game necessitated duplicity as I navigated the numerous worlds that I had begun inhabiting, as I tried on various masks and identities.
I tap danced to be seen.
Unfortunately, the dance is all that is seen.