Doesn’t Mean Happiness

By Jose Romero

Posted on

This is about knowing yourself.
When I was a kid,
I remember writing
on a small piece of paper:
“I am gay”.
Then I tore it up
and flushed it down the toilet,
trying to forget the truth
I had just confessed.
Because that disease is not true:
that only happens in the movies,
and to that one distant cousin
of my mother,
to whom she doesn’t talk to anymore.

I had convinced myself
that if that was true,
then I’d keep it a secret forever:
I’d marry a woman,
have children,
because that’s how it’s supposed to be.
That’s what God likes,
that’s what God creates,
and that’s what God accepts.

Maybe this is really about unmet empathy.
You hate what you don’t understand,
because hate is the easiest of feelings.

You don’t understand how rarely
do gay kids feel comfortable
during childhood.

You don’t understand
the lies, the guilt, the pain,
the self-hatred.
until accepted,
gay kids, too, hate being gay.

You don’t understand
how it feels to come home friendless,
to lie to your parents:
“It was a good day!
Jackson made a great joke during P.E.!”
You lie because you don’t want to
break their heart;
you don’t want to see your mother’s tears,
asking your father if she did something wrong.

You don’t understand
how it feels not being able to
ask or say or feel.
Because tears are for girls.
Soccer is for boys.
Fighting is for boys.
Cars are for boys.

You don’t understand the loneliness,
the isolation.
Because it’s better to be alone
than for the truth to show.

So next time you think of ‘gay’
don’t think of a dyed-blonde
or a pervert, pedophile.
Think of a kid
—just a kid—
screaming in his pillow
late in the night,
crying because he
likes a boy named Jackson,
and doesn’t know what to do.

Because, believe me,
though the dictionary may differ,
‘Gay’ doesn’t really mean happiness.

Maybe this isn’t about
knowing yourself.
Maybe this isn’t about
unmet empathy.
Maybe this is about expressing
what I couldn’t
when I was, too, a gay kid.

– Jose Romero