I almost didn’t post this, but a confessional blogging style is sort of my brand, so I thought: fuck it! You’re welcome.
Yesterday, they released the cover for The Sun and the Star, which is Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro’s Solangelo adventure they’ve been promising for a while. And when I saw it, I ugly-cried for thirty minutes. And my reaction surprised me, but I know the reason for it. If a book like this had existed when I was twelve years old, it might have changed the entire course of my life. Now, that might seem like an extreme statement, but it’s the truth.
I didn’t have one positive example of a gay relationship growing up. Not one. All I knew about being gay was that it was an invitation to misery and death. And when I was twelve, I was obsessed with Greek mythology (there were signs, ok?) so I know I would have been obsessed with the Percy Jackson books. Hell, I kind of am as an adult. I’ve read all of them. So a book about Nico and Will having an adventure, a story about two teenage boys who just happened to be in love, would have blown my mind and introduced me to the idea that these things were possible. That maybe I was ok. Maybe I could have what I really wanted and the world would not end.
But I didn’t have that. I didn’t even have a dream of it. I never thought about the possibility of having a boyfriend, I couldn’t even let myself imagine it. How sad is that? I didn’ty even have a fantasy of what I really wanted.
So, that’s why I had that reaction. Because somewhere there is a twelve year old boy growing up like I did, who will read this book and be introduced to the idea that what he really wants is possible for him in a way that it never was for me.
And after processing all of that, I got mad. Because this was such a simple thing that I needed, and no one would give it to me. Not my parents, definitely not my church, not my friends, not my family, not my gay relatives, not society. And I am so angry on behalf of that twelve-year-old kid who just needed to know that he was okay and was not an abomination that God hated. And never getting any of that led me to putting myself in a box for 35 years. It led me to living a life where there was no hope that it would ever be ok to be my true self. I believed for all of those years that if anyone ever learned the truth about me, they would hate me, and cut me out of their lives and I would be left with no one.
I wanted a marriage and family so badly and there was only one way of getting that, at least only one way I could see for myself. So, I guess I was making rational decisions, given my options.
So, when I saw that cover, my life flashed before my eyes. But it wasn’t my life. It was the life I could have had if things had been different, if I’d accepted myself twenty years earlier. A life where I might have met my true love and raised a family with him, instead of living a lie.
I told my therapist this and she said the emotion I was feeling was grief, and wow is that true. Because now, even though I am out and happy and living as my authentic self, it feels like it might be too late for a lot of what I could have had. And I know that feeling isn’t rational. I know intellectually, that I am not that old and happiness is possible for me. But I also feel like I’ve lost a lifetime of experiences I could have had. And its hard to come to terms with that and forgive myself for it. And forgive the people in my life for never giving me what I needed. It was a different world.
My parents accept me now, but if I’d had this conversation with them in 1985 I don’t think they would have. And I have no doubt that if I’d come out in my high school, I would have been beaten to death.
But if I’d had just a glimmer of hope that things could have been different … it would have made all the difference in the world. But they weren’t different, and I made choices based on those circumstances.
So, yeah, I know this is just a book cover and maybe doesn’t deserve the emotional weight I am giving it. But I am grateful it exists and I want to travel back in time to give it to my 12-year-old self.