DD Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me!
WM My pleasure
DD So describe yourself in three – five adjectives.
WM Funny, sarcastic, friendly and loud
DD What adjectives would your friends use to describe you?
WM Funny, loud, a good friend… I would hope
DD Did you ever hide your true self?
WM Yes, I did, or at least I thought I did. I was pretty oblivious to the fact that I wasn’t quite as convincing as I thought. I made an effort to hide because it was tough to deal with the teasing as a kid. And then you think if they feel this way when I’m hiding who I am, what would happen if I actually came out?… That kept me in the closet a lot longer than I would have liked, that and my Dad. I think I tried to hide in a lot of ways, but there were times my true self just couldn’t help but shine through. I tried to do sports my Dad wanted, but I wanted to do gymnastics, he would rather have me in baseball, soccer or those type of sports. So I had to beg and plead with him to do another sport. Another thing was that I really liked theater; I would go out for parts even though it might have added more fuel to the fire for the already relentless bullies, but I really liked it, and for me, it was another way of getting away from those people. I was with other theater people who didn’t think about the “gay thing”, there was just another person who wanted to do what they were doing. You’re with a group of people that now if you’re good at singing; it is a good thing! As opposed to that “faggot that’s in the choir,” It was always a negative thing. I guess there were certain things like that, which I would keep doing, while still trying to hide at the same time, which is why I guess I thought I was doing such a good job of hiding the truth. But there were a lot of people saying “I always knew” or “I always thought, ” which is like nails on a chalkboard to me, you just don’t want to hear that, especially after trying for so long, so hard, to hide that part of your life. To have everybody else say “I saw it,” it’s tough! You work hard to put out this persona and to have someone say they could see right through it, it’s a harder thing to hear… and now you realize it was what it was, it is what it is.
DD Immediately afterward did it affect any of your relationships?
WM I think it’s something that I’ve just gotten more okay with; I guess as I’ve had more time to think about it and it’s not that people don’t mean it to come out that way. Like when you talk to people afterward you tend to get into it more, people don’t mean to belittle you in that way. I find it more their way of being excited. Any of the people that I have come out to that are still part of my life were awesome about it, they got excited about it. The first person I came out to at the time was my supposed best friend, and her reaction kept me in the closet for another year before I had the courage to say the words ” I am Gay” to someone else. And then that person reaction was so over the top incredible; she was so excited and so happy, she was like “You have to tell everyone, right now! Come let’s go!” It was a completely different experience, and I was like “okay maybe this isn’t so bad” and after you’ve confided in a few other people and they are okay with it and telling you to talk to the rest of your friends that will support you and then I just went from there. But it’s so weird to me because it relates back to sexuality, and I am basically declaring that “I like dick” to the world, heterosexual people don’t do that, there isn’t that affirmation needed. There isn’t a sit down with Mom and Dad and say “just so you know this is what I like”, which is why I refused to sit down with either of my parents to tell them. I left my Mom a note and let my sister tell my Dad. Because I didn’t want it to be a big awkward discussion and I didn’t want things to change or be different, I was happy with the way things were, it was more of a courtesy to let them know “like FYI I’m not really hiding this anymore and if people say something or whatever you should know that its probably true.
DD What do you love about the person you are today?
WM This is a tough question… Cause it’s hard anytime, you do any self-reflection or look inwards for me personally it’s a harder thing to be like “Do I love myself”? I try to! But there are definitely things that I struggle with. I guess one of the things I am happiest with is that I wasn’t afraid to work on me. So I like to think that the person that I am today is more confident and more comfortable. I can safely say I am more comfortable with myself than I have ever been, even though I’m not 100%. I am getting there, and part of that is because I allowed the time to work on myself, like mastering the art of being alone, doing things on your own and not always needing or feeling like you need someone else there. I would like to have that, but I don’t feel the need to have that.
DD What does it mean to you to live an authentic life?
WM I feel it means being authentic with yourself first and foremost, trying to find that true you. It’s hard to know that clearly when you’ve been hiding it behind all these different layers and disguises and all the things you do to keep people thinking or not questioning who you really are. It’s peeling away those layers and getting to a point where you are comfortable with who you are. I always think about when you are younger, and someone asks you if you like that new TV show and you are like “Oh yeah I love it, it was really funny, ” and they are like ” I didn’t”…, and you then change and say “yeah me neither.” It’s that whole trying to fit in mentality, not to be different, you have to get rid of that mentality.
DD Was there a defining moment for you to be able to step into your authentic self?
WM I guess for me it was coming out and the support of my friends and family and that things didn’t have to change and weren’t going to change. It wasn’t like I started showing up with guys right away, I had straight friends, I didn’t have gay connections, I wasn’t going out to the gay bar. I didn’t necessarily know how to be gay… I didn’t have gay role models or mentors to help guide me, so I just kept being who I was, but embracing the fact, people were accepting of that. And its easier to kind of share a little bit more and that makes it easier to be able to be you. You need to start sharing yourself, letting them in the journey of self-discovery.
DD What obstacles have you faced to become the true you?
WM I would say I have been lucky in the sense that I have had more dealing with myself more than any outside obstacles. I’ve been really fortunate to have supportive friends who make it easier. I’d say it’s more about myself, and again there is so much that you are discovering about yourself as you start to allow yourself to have experiences that you wouldn’t previously. Things that you wouldn’t have entertained the idea of. I guess a big part of it is sex and that’s a huge thing when you are so much older than other people when you are having these first time experiences. I think there is a huge tie into the gay community with that, and we segment ourselves into tops, bottom, bears, otters your a this or a that. And can we just stop and giving everything a label or a term. I find for me personally and then this is a roundabout way of getting to the “obstacles” I’ve faced, but I don’t feel I comfortably fit into any one of those groups or roles. We’d like to try and think we do more than we actually do or maybe its you, just trying to get over yourself. There are so many outside influences, people always telling you what you are not. You need to add a modifier to it because I am not just this or that. And that for me has been a difficult outside obstacle to deal with.
DD What happened when you embraced yourself as enough?
WM Ahhh… Did I? lol
That’s the toughest of the questions
DD That’s why it’s the last.
WM I ask myself if I actually have… I have embraced myself a lot more than I used to and I think it will be easier to in the future. It’s an ongoing journey for me, I’m trying every day to embrace myself more, but it’s tough, and there are times when that embrace might get a little looser, and you have to work to try and tighten it. I do think it’s a lot easier now. I can’t necessarily pick a pivotal moment, but there have been pivotal times when I have noticed that as a person I have changed my way of thinking enough that I am able to open up to more. And that’s the biggest thing for me is to be open and not do the immediate shut down you do when you’re hiding. I still use humour in so many aspects of my life because that was my defense as a kid, I used it so much to deflect. I still use it as an initial response to stressful things and I kind of have to get over that a bit more and not use it as often. You can’t hear the teasing and the taunting for so long and not start to question “what are other people seeing and am I okay with that?”
There were horrible things that happened, but I like to believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I believe it has made me stronger.
DD So I lied. I have one more question… What do you want for yourself?
WM Oh, um that’s a loaded question. I guess eternal happiness! lol, I just want to be happy, happy with me every day not just sometimes. Ultimately it would be nice to have someone to share the journey with, but again if it doesn’t happen, then I hope that I can still continue to enjoy my life and not let that be a defining thing that has to happen. It may sound cheesy or corny, but that’s really all that I want, to be happy. That’s what I want for myself… And to see the world and to win the lottery… and world peace. lol and other less selfish things.