A blast from the past

Tonight, I was snooping through my old files that I pulled off my old computer just before I gave it away. And I found something that I had written quite a few years ago. I’m not sure whether I originally wrote it in 1997 or 1998. I figured I’d post it here for old times sake. Perhaps another time, I’ll look through it and see how much my attituded have changed since writing this.

Greetings. As I write this, April Fool’s Day is coming up quickly. This is a day where many people enjoy themselves and have a great time. However, this is a day that will always be extraordinarily special in my life. I’d like to take a few minutes and share that with you.

Traditionally, April Fools Day is a day to celebrate the comical figure “The Fool” and all of the foolishness that he represents. This celebration usually involves people playing practical jokes of some sort on each other, as this is probably The Fool’s greatest form of comedy. However, as of April Fool’s Day 1996, the day has become a day for me to reject destructive foolishness. You see, that particular April Fool’s Day was the day that I came to accept the fact that I’m gay.

Let me tell you a bit about my own experience. I was raised American Baptist and had always been taught that same-sex relationships were wrong. Therefore, when nearly all sexual dreams I had as a teen involved only men, I tried to convince myself that it was “just a phase”. During my sophomore and junior years in college, I came to realize that it was more to it than that; I realized that I was indeed exclusively homosexual. During those two years, however, I was determined to change that fact. I spent much aggravating months trying to suppress the feelings and desires that I had towards various men — including my roommate. This unsuccessful struggle continued through most of my senior year. I became increasingly frustrated until it came to a head on Saturday, March 30. That night, I had become so frustrated and tired of trying to change that I lay in my bed for thirty minutes considering slitting my wrists. Let me tell you, the statistics about gay people killing themselves because they can’t deal with their sexuality means a whole lot more to you when you almost become a part of those statistics.

Well, when I realized that night what I was considering, it terrified me. The rest of that night and Sunday are a lost memory to me. The next thing that I remember happened that Monday. I went to my friend, Merion, and asked if she could talk to me sometime. She and I agreed to meet in one of the dorms at about 8:30pm. When we got there, we found a private corner to talk where no one was likely to wander by. I then took a deep breath and told her. It wasn’t until I told her that I actually accepted it for myself. We talked for a while that night, and she reassured me the entire time. We have since become extremely close friends.

My life was quite chaotic after that point. Since most of my friends were conservative Christians, I found myself drifting away from them. At the same time, I began making other friends which would be more supportive in my upcoming hardships. I had to undo a lot of negative feelings concerning my sexual orientation. It was difficult work, but I found it worth it. It gave me a new sense of freedom that I had never experienced before. This sense of freedom has grown incredibly during the last two years, and is continuing to do so.

The reason I told you all of this is to give a framework for the challenge I wish to give each of you: Help put an end to the foolishness. You see, I spent years trying to deny my feelings for men. I then spent months trying to change those feelings. I did all of this because of the foolishness that this society teaches about non-straight sexual orientations. My acceptance of this foolishness almost cost me my life. I write this today in the hopes that it will help someone else put an end to the foolishness in their own life, possibly someone who may be — like I was — about to lose their life for that foolishness.

If you think you may be gay or bisexual, but have been afraid or unwilling to accept that fact, then I encourage you to stop the foolishness in your own life. You are a wonderful person and there is nothing wrong with you. There are others out there who have been there, and we want you to know that you’re not alone. Don’t let your self-hatred or other’s hatred of what you are destroy you. You deserve better than that.

If you have already accepted the fact that you’re bi or gay, then I’d encourage you to take another look at your life this week. Is there any internalized homophobia still lingering in your life? Are you still in the closet with anyone? If you are comfortable enough with your own sexuality and can do so safely, I encourage you to overcome these forms of foolishness as well. Don’t settle for partial freedom, my friend. There is much more out there to claim for yourself. Every day, I try to reach for that increased freedom a bit more.

Finally, I have a challenge for those who are in a position to do so: Help others stop the madness in their own lives. Make yourself available to talk with those who are still struggling with their own sexuality. Offer to share your own experiences and feelings with those who may approach you. It’ll help them out a great deal. I can’t stress how important this is. About sixmonths ago, I told Merion that I had been considering committing suicide two nights before we talked. She sat there in complete shock. Her only response was to wonder aloud what might have happened had she not been visitting campus that week. Neither of us are sure what would have happened, but I’m certainly glad that I never found out. But it serves to remind me that I don’t want to find out who I could have helped after it’s too late to do so. I urge each of you to keep that from being something you experience, too.

I hope that you will join me in my compaign to end the destructive foolishness of homophobia this April Fool’s Day. It is the best thing I can think of to do to celebrate my own coming out anniversary. The best thing that could happen to me next Wednesday is if at least one person decides to confide in me that they are gay or bisexual and seek my reassurance.

And do me a favor. If you see The Fool, give him a message for me. Tell him that my life continues to improve without him.

— Jarred Harris, aka Lorkon.

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