I’m From Little Rock, AR.

by spencer smith

Right now I am sitting in the kitchen by myself; I have not spoken a single word in over two hours. My family is sitting in the room directly across from me – I can see their backs clearly as they talk to each other. They have not made any word or motion to include me in their conversation.

There is no physical barrier between us, but we are separated. The separation is more than the corporeal distance that can be transversed in a matter of seconds were I to stand up and walk into the room. No, this distance takes a much greater time to bridge. And each day they do not move, I step further away.

I know the moment I enter my family’s home I become a different person – a less happy person. I lock away a part of myself because it is expected of me, and because, at least for now, it is better than living without a family. I choose to choke back my indignation, my pain, my present suffering, my hopes, my fears, and, in essence, my life in order that my family might cling to this false reality we have constructed.

There is a word which, much like in this essay, is not spoken so much as it is understood. It is an awkward presence that everyone is forced to acknowledge in their own mind, but is at the same time publicly denied. It is a word that you cannot speak aloud for fear that you will disrupt the delicate familial balance that exists.

But the quiet corners, the eddies of conversation, where only two or three people stand, it is the subject of every hushed whisper. Subtle tilts of the head, shy glances and half made gestures in my direction that if made in a single instance would seem innocuous, but after time it becomes more than coincidence. It becomes something that I can no longer attribute to mere chance.

It is this distinct knowledge that places me in the position of being an outsider in my own family. In a place which most people find comforting and welcoming – a place of safety and refuge – I find to be hostile and embittered toward my very presence. Through no fault of my own I have at the same time become a stranger in my own home and an orphan.

6 Comments:

  1. It is they who are missing out. I’m so sorry you are in this situation, but I implore you to find your family elsewhere. Move on. Maintain contact with your “birth family” if you need to, but know that you will find your real family as you continue on your life’s journey. They are out there, needing you as much as you need them.

  2. Spencer,

    You can’t continue to live like this; it will kill your spirit. Gay Lynn is right. You need to find a family that will love you, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are. Family is not limited to the blood-relatives that you were born to. Family is any place you feel at peace in the love that surrounds you. Go out and build yourself a family that will love you and that you love right back. Believe it or not, that ‘FrankenFamily’ may be your salvation.

    Best wishes in finding the love and peace you deserve.

  3. Spencer,

    It’s starting to sound like an echo chamber down here, but the two previous commenters are right on the money. I think the family of friends I found literally have saved my life. My own family is very, very conservative. My siblings are growing out of our parent’s bigotry, but it would still be a soul-crushing environment if it was all I had.

    With the group of friends I’ve found, my sexuality is a non-issue, just like the fact that I’m overly dramatic and 6’4″ tall. It usually only comes up when the wives & girlfriends of my straight guy friends are trying to hook me up with their other gay pals, or when those guy friend catch me recklessly eyeballing a waiter’s ass at our favorite hangouts.

    Get out there, find your second family. You’re not abandoning your biological family – they are abandoning you. One day, hopefully, they’ll come looking for you again, when they realize their mistake. In the meantime, you need to realize that there are people out there – lots of people – who are waiting to be your friend, waiting to love you for you. It’s amazing when it happens – and it can, if you go looking for them.

  4. I will make it simple. This is from ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach, and it sums it all up nicely:

    “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.
    Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. “

  5. They think that shunning you will change your sexual orientation? Ignorance is bliss I hear. >.< You need to do what is best for you. Walk away from the negativity and selfishness (and they are selfish because this is all about them, not you) those people are poisoning you with. There are multitudes of people out here who will love you just as you are and you are worthy of love.

  6. I know pretty well what you are talking about, I feel the same way about myself and my family. I learned that sitting around waiting for them wasn’t going to happen, so I had to do something myself. I decided that I can’t live there anymore, and am getting my own apartment in the coming weeks.

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