I am naked underneath these clothes. The shackles of fabrics prevent me from being known. To be everything I must become nothing. I embrace the illusion and live in confusion. This is what happiness looks like. Integration is a mythology and assimilation is theology. Freedom is not biblical, and conformity is gospel. This is all I have known. This may look like a prison, but it is my home…
I am bisexual. Meaning I have the capabilities of romantic and sexual attraction to both sexes. The term is not synonymous with polyamory or promiscuity. I would like to add that in no way am I insinuating that those who have multiple partners or engage in a lot of sexual activity are doing something evil but highlighting the importance of not drawing conclusions about sexual minorities.
I have been partially “out of the closet,” for years. Honestly, I do not imagine anyone will be shocked by my admission. I was not that great of a secret keeper and my extensive knowledge about Beyoncé probably was a giveaway. Still for as many who know, there are a few who do not. However, I am not sharing my story for them, I am doing it for me. I am doing this for every time I sacrificed being comfortable in my skin so someone else could feel comfortable in theirs.
For as long as I can remember, I have been fighting for acceptance and to be included. I recall sitting legs crossed in the doorway of my eldest brother Chaves’ room. Day by day I begged to be invited in. My other brother Cody was invited in, but I was not allowed. He so graciously allowed me to sit by the door. Each time I sat by the door I wished I was thin and muscular like them or that my skin was as light as theirs. Maybe then I would be invited in. I admired him, as did many others, and it was important to me that I win his favor. I believed my brother was aware of my admiration and used it against me. He relished in the idea that he had a groupie. Every now and again he would invite me in only to shut me out again. Each time it felt like a privilege and when I was shut out, I stammered about what I did to lose it. I vowed to make myself better next time.
I developed a hierarchical mindset sitting out in the hall. The world was full of groups that I did not fit in. I was bullied in grade school and during the summer months I would draft plans to win popularity among my peers. I became whatever and whoever I needed to be so I could have the feeling that I belonged somewhere. Important parts of my identity were suppressed or ignored all together. Among those I ignored was my sexuality.
Within the early 2000s it was highly unpopular to identify as LGBT. Even without having as much clarity about what my sexual orientation as I do now, I knew it was important to hide who I was from my peers. Looking back, I do not see how I could survive in the environment I was in without secrecy. Identifying as LGBT meant becoming a nobody and I could not tarnish my reputation before I had been given the chance to become relevant in society. I crawled up many social systems in which I was not traditionally invited in because of race, socioeconomic status, and religion. However, I recognized that homophobia stretched across lines of gender, race, socioeconomic status and religion. Being open about who I was, might mean losing friends, family, and job opportunities.
For quite some time, success in my mind was tied with being apolitical and polite, but recent events in our country has triggered a nerve in me. It appears now more than ever that the rights of the marginalized are being threatened. LGBT individuals have had to hide underneath their skin since the creation of religion.
I realize now that my response to act neutral and accommodating was a survival technique. While those in majority culture can thrive, those of minority culture must either deviate from the system or learn to survive it. Anyone seeking to deviate from norm must evaluate the cost. Those who go against the status quo may lose many things along the way including their lives, but I desire to be on the right side of history. History is not made by those wishing they had done something, but by those willing to lose everything.
It is not my desire to be controversial but rather to have the freedom to be who I am. This is not an attempt to stir up arguments or beef with anyone (I am a vegan so that does not work). What I want is to be able to date who I want and not be judged for who I love. I want to be part of a future that tells young LGBT individuals that who they are is normal and that they do not have to hide who they are. I have waited so long to be invited into a space that did not want me but I, if no else will, will create a space in which people like me are invited in. It is my hope that my story reaches those who have a story like mine and that they too would have the courage to be who they are without fear. My name is Kenneth Tate and I am bisexual…
“To anyone who is mad or does not like what I have to say, I want you to know I’m not sorry about it.”
Editor: Olivia Claire Deliyannides