Learn­ing lessons from Mr. Carter

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

My son is my light, lead­ing the way to my be­ing the per­son I want – and maybe al­ways in­tended – to be. Mr. Carter also in­spires me in ways I never see com­ing.

When I reached pu­berty and re­al­ized I was a les­bian, there was noth­ing in pop cul­ture that re­flected my life. No “Or­ange is the New Black,” no rain­bow lights on cor­po­rate or gov­ern­ment build­ings, no mas­sive Pride fes­ti­val in Columbia, Ten­nessee. I pan­icked and dreaded what life as a gay woman meant. “Please, God, don’t make me gay” was a com­mon prayer.

De­spite the self-ha­tred and teenage need to fit in, those things didn’t stop me from dat­ing women in the shad­ows. But, un­like me and my aware­ness that I only wanted to date women, the ladies I fell in love with al­ways seemed to re­turn to dat­ing men. I quickly un­der­stood that even though some wanted to be with me, and even pro­fessed as much, cul­tural pres­sures forced them to wrap their arms around some guy in pub­lic in or­der to main­tain their rep­u­ta­tion. To this day, the first woman I was ever with, and se­cretly dated for al­most a year in high school, has yet to ac­knowl­edge our re­la­tion­ship ever ex­isted. So much for a ro­man­tic no­tion of los­ing my vir­gin­ity.

Pair the ex­pe­ri­ence of con­stantly be­ing re­jected for a guy with the fact all rep­re­sen­ta­tion of love on TV and in movies was of re­la­tion­ships be­tween a man and a woman, then you can un­der­stand why I de­vel­oped quite a re­sent­ment to­wards men. Be­cause it was men that kept me from what I wanted, and some­how I as­sumed they un­der­stood and took ad­van­tage of their power in my world.

Life got eas­ier as I grew older and was able to choose where I lived and who I openly loved, aided by so­ci­ety as it be­gan to ex­press ac­cep­tance of di­ver­sity. I still fell for a so-called “straight” woman or two along the way, stick­ing a nee­dle into that buried anger I some­how held onto. Then came my son. A friend joked that hav­ing a boy was God’s way of mak­ing sure I fell in love with a man at least once in my life, and she was right. He is in­deed the best thing that has ever hap­pened to me, and my con­stant re­minder of the child in­side of me and the fact her voice is still im­por­tant. And so is her need to give up all the stale stress that has come from decades of feel­ing like a vic­tim of my sex­u­al­ity.

It’s funny. Now when I see men, I rec­og­nize those lit­tle boys they used to be. The ones who had no prob­lem show­ing af­fec­tion, feel­ing a myr­iad of emo­tions, ex­press­ing fear, feel­ing safe hid­ing be­hind their mother’s legs and be­ing cu­ri­ous to un­der­stand ex­actly how things work. They’re not so bad af­ter all.

Yet an­other door my son has opened for me. Thank you, my love.

“It’s funny. Now when I see men, I rec­og­nize those lit­tle boys they used to be. The ones who had no prob­lem show­ing af­fec­tion, feel­ing a myr­iad of emo­tions, ex­press­ing fear, feel­ing safe hid­ing be­hind their mother’s legs and be­ing cu­ri­ous to un­der­stand ex­actly how things work. They’re not so bad af­ter all.”

Melissa Carter is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and has been heard over the years on B98.5 and Q100. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Melis­saCarter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.