Author's Comment: I Live in a Very Homophobic Area of the American South. I'm Only Out

Author's Comment: I Live in a Very Homophobic Area of the American South. I'm Only Out

Author's comment: I live in a very homophobic area of the American South. I'm only out to a couple of people and I fear that if I come out to my family that I'll be kicked out of my home.

Down by the River

I grew up in the American South. Thick canopies of spanish moss swaying in the breeze, wisteria crawling up the sides of buildings, consuming them slowly, heavy ears of corn weighing down the stalk. All of these things gentle reminders of the fertile soil we live on.

I take solace in the nature around me when I can’t confide in the people I reside with. Game night in my household is rowdy, the warmth of family permeates the livingroom, cards regularly fly off the table thrown in a dramatic gesture. But then the conversation turns from schoolwork and the monotony of day to day life to politics and the warmth suddenly doesn't reach me anymore. They talk about what they call “the Gays” and how immoral they are, the people who are just confused and how they still love them but don’t love what they do.

Normally as boisterous as any other member of my family, I shut my mouth. Sometimes my eyes get misty, other times I just look at my hand of cards and think of being anywhere else.

In these cold moments I long for the heat of the summer sun.

I’m in a kayak, paddling to a cluster of rocks in the river behind my home. The sun is beating down on my back and I can already feel a burn developing on the wide plane of my back, stretching up to my neck. The ebb and flow of the river is calming as I step onto the rocks and slip off my lifejacket. Here I can say anything I want aloud. So I talk and I don’t stop talking, “I love girls so much.” I start with getting my emotions out into the open air, vulnerable to the wind. “I can’t help the way that I feel, nothing is wrong with the way I feel.” I let it all out, for any and all of the bejeweled dragonflies hanging in the air to hear. “God loves all of his children, he made me this way for a reason.” In the end tears roll down my face drying in salty streaks before they reach my chin.

Walking a trail mid-spring the following year, lazy bees drift from flower to flower. I’m walking with my best friend and she’s rambling on and on about the new boy that shes interested in, spreading everything out like a thick bed of kudzu. She brushes her fingers through her hair and looks at me up through her eyelashes. “Anyone caught your eye lately?” she nudges my arm. I look down, heart beating fast. I can see our five year friendship crumbling right before my eyes if I tell her, my face heats up and I take a deep breath. “Actually yeah,” piquing her interest

“she's really cool.” Her eyes widen and she smiles. “Tell me more about her.” She says.

I take my younger brother to the river bank a year later. Our dog sniffs at the otter borrow that's hollowed out part of the bank, the river is lower than usual. He’s throwing sticks into the current and I join to, indulging in the rush it brings me. We’re quiet for a moment before I strike up a conversation, “I’m dating someone now.” He raises an eyebrow, “Really, someone would date you?” He grins as he says this, tossing another branch into the water. “Yeah,” I replied, taking a quick breath and adding “she makes me really happy.” He pauses for a moment. He picks up the grabs the biggest branch and throws it as hard as he can and says “That's good.” His back is turned to me but I know he understands.

I take her to the river shortly after that. I show her where I told my brother about us and where I go to admire thunderstorms when they roll in from the north. She holds my hand, the wind picks up and catches her brown hair in the wind. A smile grows across my face, and I know the warmth I feel can’t ever be dampened again.