Originally posted by me on Fetlife.
I was away from the community for a long time. In that time I was gone, I somehow missed a load of social progress that I became suddenly aware of upon my return. It made me feel something that I hadn’t felt in a very long time: I felt like I was ignorant.
I’ve always thought of myself as a progressive individual. I wasn’t necessarily always on the cutting edge forefront of things, but I’ve always favored people being themselves, actual acceptance that goes beyond just tolerance, and prejudice/hatred makes me really fucking angry. What I learned is that I was old and out of touch.
I’m working on it. I’m trying. I’m learning. This is an active process. The more people I meet and the more people I talk to, the more I get it. I feel old. I’m trying to unlearn 40 years of beliefs and replace them with better ones. I’m not perfect and I make sure to guilt the shit out of myself if I fuck up a pronoun or make binary assumptions.
It honestly makes me so happy to see the level of expression that those younger than me are able to have. It sometimes makes me wonder if I had grown up now, instead of when I did, how much different would I have turned out? Probably very different. I’ll never know, though. I try not to wonder that too much. What the time back has taught me is that it gave me hope for humanity. I had long become jaded and bitter, but holy shit, some actual tangible social progress that I see right before my very eyes… it makes me so happy that I almost cry.
I know that we still have a ways to go, but the ball is rolling in the right way.
A lot of my kinks and emotional masochism revolve around my gender identity and sexuality. I have a bad kind of shame about that sometimes. It’s okay for other people to have free expression of whoever they truly are. I can’t feel that way about myself. That twists me up sometimes.
I’ve realized that I can’t get over the fears and phobias of my generation. My formative years were the 1980s. It was during those years that topics like date rape and sexual harassment became recognized as bad shit instead of being ordinary behaviors that just happened all the time and no one could do anything about them. AIDS brought homosexuality to the forefront. While sexism was starting to be frowned upon, the way that AIDS fueled homophobia was treated as normal and acceptable. At that time, the common belief I remember was that if you were openly gay, your life would probably be a never-ending string of socially acceptable hate crimes until you died of AIDS. How fucked up is that? Actually committing those words to paper just made my heart break.
The people back then that had the courage to be themselves were fucking amazing. They are a large part of the reason that people have the ability to be themselves now. They were the ones who were rolling the ball along while the rest of the world spit in their faces.
I am securely and non-toxic-ly, a heterosexual male. I’ve been wondering for a while now… if I am those things, why are my gender identity and sexuality such triggers to me?
The best answer I can come up with is they represent deeply rooted phobias of my generation. When I was younger, I was heavily bullied for my race and being chubby and was sexually humiliated for being uncircumcised. The attacks were vicious. They cut deep. They were a part of the shattering of my psyche and my inability to see myself in a positive light.
I knew I was a target. I felt the effects of that every day. Every day they tore away at my armor, causing me to bury my feelings more deeply inside myself. I became acutely aware of anything that could be used as a weapon against me. It was miserable.
I didn’t have it as bad as it could have been. It could have been worse. There were kids back then who blurred gender lines and were suspected of being gay. They took the worst of it. It was awful. I ache for them when I think about it. The constant level of harassment must have been devastating. They must have been the strongest people I knew.
I feared being treated that way more than anything. I am absolutely certain that I would not have survived it. I wasn’t strong enough.
My armor made sure there weren’t any openings on that front. I’m trembling as I write this, thinking about what could have happened 30+ years ago.
I think that’s why those things remain active triggers for me. The terror is ingrained so deeply that it resides in my subconscious. I can rationally tell myself that I’m perfectly secure with who I am and that those things don’t bother me, yet a part of me trembles. Deep down, I know that isn’t true. Inside I’m still a 12-year old fearing the ultimate form of social rejection. Deep down, I’m still weak and terrified.
I also hope that those who come to know me better do not judge me badly for having these fears. I never asked to have them. I never wanted to have them. That doesn’t change the fact that I have them and are regrettably a part of me. They are the fears of my generation.
To those who have found the strength to be your truest self and can say “fuck it” to anyone that tries to get you down, you’re fucking awesome. I respect the hell out of you.