I had already walked the length of the street three times. Each time I quickened my pace. The street was empty; there were no cars or people, just a dog that walked proud and carefree. It was warm for November, but you could still feel a crisp chill when you breathed in deeply. The sun was just setting and the sky was wintry gray, the same gray I had felt time and time again. I stopped in front of the church, tall and big, made of warm stone and surrounded by naked trees that were twisted with age and the elements.
I felt a legion of emotions ranging from hate to relief. I had always known that I was different, but now, unfortunately I knew how. I was gay. I was a fag, a sissy, a homo, a fairy, one of those people. I knew that it was true, but I dared not utter it to anyone. I was alone and afraid. Some people say it is a choice to be gay. I never chose it. I did choose to stop denying it however, which in my mind was just as bad. That’s what brought me here to the street, to the church, to the fear.
I had first heard about the support group a month earlier in the newspaper. It was a group for gay people, like me. Meets every Monday night in the conference room at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, 7 p.m. I had one minute to decide if I was going to walk through the big double door, or if I would hide. I choose, and advanced toward the Church. The door creaked and a comforting rush of warm air hurried to fill the cold.
The room was full of brown metal chairs accented by florescent light. On the far wall there was a picture of Jesus, lit from below with a small lamp on and antique table. I found a seat and commenced to be uncomfortable. When I found the courage to lift my head I was surprised, and relieved. I saw people who I knew, from church, from work, and from the coffee house where I spent most of my free time. There was even someone from my school. My mind was congested with thoughts like I never knew and They don’t seem like . I was confused. I had always wondered what others might think of me and now I was thinking the same about them.
One by one people introduced themselves. I thought to about how different I was compared to them, but something bound us together. A struggle with who we are and why. I did belong. I was not alone any more. My thoughts and spirit drifted as high as the acoustic tile ceiling, and then it was my turn. In my mind I was mute, but my mouth opened and I said my name. It was the first time I had spoken as one of them, as me.