For most of my life, I have been terrified by my homosexuality—I created a world in my mind of how I would feel and how I would be treated if people knew that I was gay.
During high school, while surrounded by John Deere t-shirts and talks of mudding, I assumed that coming out of the closet would lead to complete disaster, but I also figured that such imagined adversity would come my way eventually.
At 16, I decided to be open about my sexuality and to my surprise, I received much more than mere acceptance—I stumbled upon a degree of popularity that I had never experienced. To maintain this newfound, false sense of glory, I decided to embrace all aspects of being a stereotypical gay man that my naïve, homophobic mind could endure: excessive shopping, starvation to maintain a malnourished appearance, binge watching of America’s Next Top Model, promiscuity ad nauseum, overuse of the word “fabulous”. I hated these things and I hated myself for acting like I was someone that I simply wasn’t.
What I hated more, though, was my fear of being alone. I assumed that all gay men acted the way I did and, therefore, I did everything in my power to avoid them for more than a night because of this. I was terrified that I would die alone because of this assumption and I had grown exhausted from pretending to be what I thought people wanted me to be.
A former coworker once told me how apathetic Oxycodone made her and I was deeply interested in no longer caring about fear, or expensive jeans, or counting calories, or how and when to add the word “fabulous” to a sentence. As fate would have it, this coworker was both a user and a seller of Oxycodone and I felt like the luckiest man alive—well, at least until feelings of emptiness and inadequacy started manifesting much stronger than they had before.
I figured that it was in my best interest to be as dissimilar to my perception of a gay man as possible.
Since I had never known a heroin addict that was also a gay man and since Oxycodone was no longer providing the sense of oblivion it once did, I decided to give heroin a try. Within months, my daily routine for the next several years became: wake up, stave off withdrawal symptoms with nearly inexistent amounts of low-quality heroin, prostitute my best friend all day, buy more low-quality heroin, rinse, wash, repeat.
Thankfully, my fear of being a gay man became my saving grace.
I caught my neighbors stealing from me one night and decided to confront them the next day. Several insults were thrown my way, but one specific sentence did something to me that put me on the path of recovery:
“You’re just a faggot anyway.”
Something about my neighbors’ proximity to me and the stories I have heard about gay bashings completely disintegrated my sense of both reality and self. I started experiencing symptoms of psychosis almost immediately and ended up in a psychiatric unit. This psychosis was the result of Methadone detoxification and untreated bipolar disorder.
It was the scariest moment of my life and it was what ultimately saved my life.
I took my last dose of Methadone several months later and I became very active in both individual and group therapy, both of which continue to provide an overwhelming sense of peace, clarity, and purpose. I have been in a very fulfilling relationship for the last two years (with a man who hates shopping even more than I do, loves delicious food, has never watched America’s Next Top Model, is serious about monogamy, and has yet to utter the word “fabulous”).
Instead of being afraid of my own sexuality, the only fear I feel as I write this is the fear of letting myself be something I’m not to the point that Opiate dependence seems like a good idea.