I’ve been in NYC for 115 days. It’s hard to believe. Since then, I’ve been exposed to countless men who wear sexuality on their sleeve. It’s because of them that I realize I still have room for growth: For embracing sex as a natural bodily process. For embracing my identity as a gay man. For living unfettered as the person I was always meant to be.
It’s so freeing to see men sporting crop tops and bright colors, something that was stigmatized in Arkansas for being “too feminine”. I only wore out-and-proud shirts in Arkansas a few times, simply because I didn’t want my face beat in for wearing a mesh shirt in downtown Jonesboro. Here, even straight people don’t think anything of men holding hands, and if anyone has an issue with that, New Yorkers are glad to tell those people where they may go.
Internally, I have yet to embrace sex as something to be unashamed of. Sure, I’m out, but I can’t help but think I would shy away from a man’s hand in public, because of my own internalized homophobia. I still feel there is a switch that needs to be turned on from “Timid, God-fearing Christian” to “Out-and-Proud Me”. It’s as if I need a bit more validation that I’m not committing a heinous sin by being me. I know I’m not, but I feel as if I’ve been brainwashed into believing as such because I was fed that lie over and over as I grew up. I’m not sure if it will ever just go away, unfortunately. That’s the thing about internalized homophobia. It’s formed over a span of years, and sometimes, it takes years to reverse that thinking — which is exactly what I’ve been doing since coming out almost five years ago.
NYC has already helped me reverse so much of that thinking in the four months I’ve been here. I’m finally giving myself permission to feel at peace with myself. I’m happy, and I’m growing. Even though I may still have a few years before I’m able to fully and completely embrace my sexuality, I have to remind myself that I’m so much better than I was five years ago. Heck, I’m better than I was yesterday. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you’re having trouble embracing your full sexuality, please reach out. I don’t have all the answers, but I can at least talk. Until next time, Dear Readers. Kisses.