An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
If I could do such a simple thing as sit somewhere and have a beer with you, and if we were going to talk about school days and hiding, this is what I’d want to say to you:
I never thought to hide my sexuality in school; I never even consciously thought about it in concrete terms. I came from an abusive home that didn’t prepare me at all for how the rest of the world saw things, and I was too busy hiding the abuse and trying to survive to think about much else. I didn’t even know I was technically sexually active until watching contraband television made me realize that’s what sex was. All I knew was that some stuff hurt and some stuff didn’t; none of it had names or any context to hang understanding on. Later on, between thirteen and fourteen, I started to figure out a lot because I had finally made my first friend in junior high and he told me some stuff, and introduced me to more, both legal and not. Discovering that this thing, this act, could give pleasure, and that I could seek it out instead of waiting to be told to do it – that was a whole new world that opened up. I acquired quite a few addictions in my teen years, most of which I’m pleased to say I’ve since quit. At the time, though, with my home life the way it was, I didn’t much care if I shouldn’t be doing that stuff.
What you said on your Behind the Music, about being scared and hiding, being confused and trying to pretend, I lived that too; but I didn’t have the sense to hide the fact that I liked to kiss boys as well as girls, and it added a whole new dimension to the bullying in school. The closest thing to a gay/straight alliance we had in my high school was me finding out which of the bullies was secretly gay. One in particular, a football jock no less, I met at a wild basement party. Running into him at school, I thought we’d do stuff together, and we did – if nobody saw. If his buddies were around, he’d lend a fist on the regularly scheduled beat down. I guess it seems insane to some, my real friend wanted to get him back for hurting me; but I was getting the same treatment at home so it wasn’t that strange to switch between being his hook up and his punching bag. He hated himself so much because he was gay and just deciding to be gay, accepting it, seemed out of the question for him. He couldn’t resist what he wanted, but when faced with it around others, all he wanted to do was destroy it.
Halfway through high school I got a second friend, my current boyfriend, and he was hiding too. I can’t imagine how our lives might of changed if there had been anybody saying it was okay to be a gay or bisexual kid, or even if society had had some examples like you mentioned on the show: television, movies, or all the way up to a legitimate gay/straight alliance after school. Given a safe place to discuss being bisexual, maybe I could of had the guts to tell somebody I was being abused, too.
Anyhow, not trying to upset you with my past, just wanted to share a perspective that many don’t have; unfortunately, some others know exactly what I went through because they did too. Those of us who are survivors aren’t necessarily the tougher or braver ones, though it’s certainly a given that any survivor of abuse is tough and brave – mostly we’re the ones that got some sort of help along the way, whether at the time or later, from some source. I believe those who were either killed or took their own lives were also tough and brave; they just never got that help before it all started to feel too bleak on the way to feeling pointless. Fact is, as a child or teen, you don’t often think about life beyond school, beyond abuse or bullying; it takes a while for that restricted viewpoint to fade. Hand in hand with that, are too many folks who don’t take the time to see, to ask, to get involved.
So while we’re hoisting imaginary beer, why am I telling you all of this? Because you’re my stepping stone, helping me by your example alone to be what I want to be, to be something I once thought I could never be: a whole and happy bisexual man, free to be himself without apologies. I am so grateful that you had a good home, with a loving family, and later found similar artistic friends to add to that family. I grew up, started to learn that there’s a whole big chunk of the world that isn’t like my birth family, and I was able to make my own family. They help me every day to face the challenges that remain.
There are so many kids and teens out there though, who are just like we were, either hiding abuse or hiding who they really are, both out of fear. I wish I could do more to help them. I’m bipolar, and I suffer from agoraphobia and a grab-bag of other phobias that make it so hard for me to relate to others at all. What I do have is my experience, perspective, and a desire to share it in the hope of reaching somebody. If my poetry, my essays, or even my goofy tweets help somebody like me, then I’m more than willing to toss them out there, like bread crumbs to follow out of the dark.
Just wanted to tell you along the way that you’re loved and appreciated for what you do, and you don’t need to carry the flag of any cause to do it. You’re out there, being yourself, showing the rest of us what’s possible with hard work and conviction; and that’s all you need to be. We both know there’s a lot of crazy haters in the world; I just like to remind you that there are sane and decent folks, too. You already know that, of course, but sometimes the hateful voices seem to be awful loud. I hope the folks that love and appreciate you will raise their voices louder and more often. In the meantime, I love seeing you so happy in both career and love, and I am patiently looking forward to new music, too. Sorry for the epic length here, this was going to be shorter; but I can’t ever get through when you do twitter parties. I wanted to be sure you had a chance to know what you mean to me and to others – to a whole lot of us out here, in fact. As for that imaginary beer, it’s on me. See you next round.
© W.R.R. 7/21/2011, edited on 8/10/2011
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.