Remember how exciting it was when we finally realized who we were, when we began to love ourselves instead of hating and dreading the truth of who we were? Remember when we began to find others like us out there? I will never forget the utter joy and excitement of finding others who were like me. I literally shook inside I was so excited. It was some friends of mine who I found out were gay that helped me love myself as I was. Suddenly I went from being so frightened and holding all of this inside to speaking it openly.
I will also never forget the first time I went to a gay bar. A bar is not the best atmosphere in the world, but we had, in those days, no other place to openly gather. I will never forget the first time I walked in a gay bar. I was so nervous and out of my comfort zone that I was shaking all over. I forced myself to walk in and when I did I was astounded to see hundreds of gay men just like myself. I saw men dancing with each other, laughing, holding hands, touching and holding each other and kissing. I was astounded because for the first time in my life I saw reflected in my waking dream what I had always known, deep inside me, to be true and right and good. I felt that I had come home! I finally had found my “tribe,” as it were, my own kind, . . . and I loved it! Instead of cowering in a corner worrying for their eternal salvation, these men were celebrating who they were! What a gift they were to me that late night so long ago. I knew then that I was not alone.
Finding a community is indeed among life’s best treasures and without it, life is somehow impoverished. Do you have a community where you can be yourself, whether you are gay or straight? Is there a place where you feel at home, a group that feels like it’s your tribe? If you don’t have that, what can you do to seek that out? It’s out there. In being ourselves, letting other people know who we are, stepping outside of our comfort zone and taking a risk, we will discover the grace of finding our own.