I’ve often thought of my own sexuality in terms of astigmatism. Where my planes of understanding, how it fits in my world, the world where not only I but other people are affected by it, are often blurred and then muddied by shame. Where does the shame come from? In my case I don’t think it is innate. In fact, is shame ever innate? I think it is the byproduct of a religious upbringing. An upbringing where had the religious aspect been absent my entire outlook and sense of self would have been wholly different -for the better (I think). I can recall, as a adolescent, the preacher telling the congregation that if anyone believed anything different from what “we” believed they would burn in hell -all of them. My friends, my friend’s family, my loved ones, my teacher. For some of us, hiding the “unnatural” aspect of our sexuality reinforces the shame. But once the shame is at the forefront, then the innate comes upon us, to hide it. To hide what it is we are certain others will not accept -those that we respect and desire approval from. I can recall the time my wife discovered my various bondage magazines some 15 years ago. I wasn’t home when this discovery came to light. But she told me she ran from the house and into the street, thru the front door, screaming as though someone terrible was after her. She never ended up accepting it.
My mind often turns toward the fact that I never secreted this type of activity from those that did accept it. I only hid it from those that did not accept it. Why did I do that?! There was a duality that I did not like about myself. An honesty that I wanted to reveal but felt I could not. An honesty that I desperately wanted to illuminate –not just for them but for me. I felt some sort of shame in those contexts that I did not feel otherwise. And in the end, because of this way of thinking, I hurt not only myself but those I care about.
I’ve met other people who have this same type of shame. Even when amongst those who would be accepting of any lifestyle they chose. The uncertainty they still have. The fear of some type of nonacceptance or rejection. The shame, which certainly contains a weighty amount of guilt, still cripples many in our community. If it were not for four poignant individuals in my own life I’m not certain I’d have had the courage to stop thinking in narrow terms, to come around to a more proper and healthy way of thinking.
The religion that the bulk of the world embraces now cannot be good for humanity when it is so exclusive and narrow and guilt ridden –for the purpose of control.