Gay people get AIDS and die.
Did anyone ever say it to me those exact words to me? Probably not. That is what the culture told me. Homosexuals are promiscuous, gay men get all sorts of STDs, gay people are depressed, they are suicidal, they are unhealthy. I heard it in church, and on the news, and in the WORLD magazine that my dad subscribed to.
I remember the first gay man I (knowingly) met. The librarian at my dad’s law firm. He looked just like everyone else.
In health class, I learned that homosexuality was natural and normal. When we learned about STDs, we learned that people get them, it doesn’t matter if you’re straight, or gay, or something else. That was the beginning of reacquainting myself with reality.
I know that being gay is no more or less inherently unhealthy than being straight. The questions still nag in my mind though, “What if something goes wrong?” “What if my friends or a partner “get sick”?
Mr. McKinnon was my favorite Sunday school teacher. I “got saved” in his class in sixth grade. He died from a brain tumor when I was in ninth grade. His son was still in high school.
Sometimes people get sick, sometimes they die young.
One of my best friends is HIV-positive. He’s happy and healthy. He inspires and challenges me. I don’t live his life: I don’t need to take medication and make regular visits to the doctor and monitor my blood. I don’t know the internal challenges that he may (or may not) struggle with. But I know he’s here. And he’s living an amazing life. And changing the world.
Soon, he’ll be older than Mr. McKinnon.
Every time I get a sore throat, or a fever, or a stomach ache I think to myself “Is it because I’m gay?” I know it’s not—in my head. But somewhere else whispers into my ear. Even when there is absolutely nothing that I’ve done that could possibly get me sick (other than ride the New York City subway). What if…
There are times when I wish that I could not be gay simply so that I don’t need to worry.
The worry though, I fear (and am thankful for), is self-created. I create it out of nothing—out of anxiousness and paranoia and misinformation—and so just as easily I can let it go.
Instead of worrying about if I will be healthy, I can strive to live healthfully.
I eat fresh foods. I move my body daily. I exercise my mind. I soothe my soul.
Will I be healthy?
It’s time to put aside false information and anti-gay (usually religious) rhetoric: The answer is a simple yes; yes, I will be healthy.
This is part of December’s series on Tough Questions on the path to affirmation. You can subscribe to receive the daily prompts. You’re invited to respond to each prompt (publicly, on your blog or social network; or privately in a journal, 750words.com, or in an email to me [or someone else]).
Do you have a Tough Question you’d like to be included in the series? Let me know.