Celebrating The Gay Times, With Your 16-Year-Old Self.

I usually don’t pick up any foreign magazines because the price for the magazine exceeds over $10, but UK’s Gay Times Magazine (May 2009) was celebrating its 25th Anniversary that was too good to pass up. Essentially, the editors were celebrating the meaning of being gay and our humanity. It was impressive to see the progression through some of the features as they discussed topics like internal homophobia leading to repression and suicide, the AIDS struggle, the abolishment of homosexuality as a mental disorder, civil partnership, parental acceptance, The Stonewall Riots, and, shockingly, pedophilia. Hearing that some famous people are gay like Tchaivosky, Oscar Wilde, Gore Vidal, and William Burroughs was comforting. A small feature that stood out was an interview with author of the Gay Divorcee, Paul Burston. I related to him because he discusses gay journalism as a profession/niche and his own blogging obsession.  He gave wonderful tips to be prepared to interview a celebrity, the natural progression to writing books, carrying a notebook at all times, and his opinion that marriage and civil partnership is no different to each other. It was short, but very insightful.

There were more advertisements than editorial, but the main feature sold me to buy the magazine almost  immediately: Write your 16-year-old self a letter. Many of them came from famous people like Singer Elton John, Porn-star Aiden Shaw, and Comedian Stephen Fry with the same basic message: “You are okay. You are lovable. Your gayness is not the problem you think it is.” I almost broke down to tears reading many of them. But my absolute favorite excerpt was from the author of the Devil’s Paintbrush, Jake Arnott. A brief excerpt stated:

“But I want you to know that what other people see as your mistakes in life will all contribute to your success…..Just remember: being queer is a blessing not a curse. Loving your own sex as well as the opposite isn’t a perversion, it’s a generosity of spirit. I know you’re scared of not being normal, but don’t be. You’re extraordinary, that’s all fabulous even. And you’re not alone. Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of people out there in the world. You might not feel so happy inside right now but don’t be so hard on yourself. I’d like to say thanks for being who you are at your age. All the trouble you’re going through means that I can be who I am now. Just trust your instincts and follow your nature, wherever it leads. And I’ll try to stay true to all your hopes and dreams.”

It was heartwarming to hear as I thought about my own experiences during those agonizing times during my middle school years and attending an all-boys’ catholic school. I would love to write to myself (but at the age of 13) and give him comfort for the future and to ease those identity issues. In short, I would write:

It’s okay to listen to Madonna and Britney Spears, even though you despise sports and cars and feel isolated from the rest of the “guys,” especially your male cousins. All your demons of loneliness and wanting acceptance will slowly dissipate as you grow older. Never think there is something wrong with you because you’re attracted to the same sex.  Your trials and tribulations will shape you and make you so infinitely special. I know it’s tough because you have no one to talk to and you cry yourself to sleep some nights, but everything will fall into place. I would tell you to say “fuck it” and just be yourself, but the obstacles ahead- you will need and they will strengthen who you are. Just have faith and patience, my dear, because you will find people just like you. You are gay, and that is your ultimate strength in regards to your profession, your interactions, and your personality. Trust in your sister; she is your best confidante. And, enjoy all the girls you connect with. There are a lot of them, whom you collectively and positvely call your “fag hags.” And by the way, you look sexy in the future. =)

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