June 22, 2015
This is not my coming out story. I tend to share a lot about my personal journey on this page which of course was my point. There was always that one topic that I never really openly shared on here. I didn’t feel like it was important anymore and I didn’t feel like revisiting places that are lifetimes away. I am a Two-Spirit First Nations man. It just seems so passé to say that all the time because it is only one aspect of my life but at the same time it also a very important proud aspect. So once again, this is NOT, repeat not, my coming out story.
My counselor has been a big part of my healing journey. I have grown leaps and bounds since I met her. I feel as First Nations people we need to embrace our own traditional ways of healing and also explore Western ways of healing too. Somehow I feel like I’m betraying some sort of code of First Nation responsibility to our culture when I utilize Western ways.
However, I have to stay true to myself. My counselor kept wondering why I would not write about this one aspect of my life that has informed so many other aspects of my life. Which kind of got me thinking to myself, “Yeah why is that?”
The answer to that was simple, I was exhausted. I was exhausted from having to deal with it on my own as a youth. I was exhausted by the coming out process in my twenties. I was exhausted with figuring out love in my thirties. I felt like it was a topic that has been heard a million times better than I could tell it. It shouldn’t have to be a “story” anymore but rather just how it is.
I grappled with the fact that it was important because I am First Nations. I am on a healing journey. I have changed my life around from scholar, drunk, to sobriety again. My story is worth telling because it is important to own it. I don’t want my story, to own me anymore. I want to be able to let it go. The Creator will find space for it in wherever it needs to be.
The first time I uttered the words “I am gay” out loud was when I was twenty-one. I’m sure a lot of Two-Spirit people can relate to that story. My story of ‘knowing’ I was gay began earlier then that though. I remember being different at four years of age. I remember this because I had started kindergarten and even the other boys knew I was different. This of course was not seen as a good thing. I learned to hide my spirit deep within myself. I became pretty good at hiding the true me for all of my youth. There was a heavy price to pay for that hiding though.
At twenty-one, I was in college and living at home again. I began to have severe panic attacks and I had fallen into a deep depression. After I moved out to further my education, a failed suicide attempt, many drinks later, I came out to my mother on the phone.
The whole coming out process was not a very pleasant one. It had taken a few years to come out to everyone. I felt so completely vulnerable, uncomfortable, and empty. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re Two-Spirit you need to come out and live your life. Just don’t believe that the journey is over and the rainbows are forever. My coming out had taken a lot out of me because I had to provide the answers for everyone when I really didn’t have the answers for myself. When all I wanted to do was live my life like I had before but everything seemed to change. I didn’t feel like I was in control of that change anymore. I was desperately trying to regain control again. I was doing it all on my own.
The good thing about coming out was that I was blessed with having to hear everyone tell me they loved me. I believe everyone should have that experience, whether you are gay, straight, bi, transsexual, lesbian, whatever, and whomever. The down side of coming out was that I had to give parts of me away to everyone that I was not ready to give. I had to find out that sometimes people can love you but sometimes that love comes with conditions. Time will tell you that everyone changes and they might not always feel that way. Even though it was difficult, I would still choose the only thing I could choose in this matter and that was to come out.
It was during college that I learned about Two-Spirit people. I was taught by Elders who mentioned how in our culture we revered Two-Spirit people. My mother would later tell me that knowing this knowledge helped her in the process of acceptance. Since my college days I have come to learn so much more about my Two-Spirit identity within my own culture. My advice to anyone struggling is to seek out our Elders who hold these Two-Spirit teachings.
These teachings helped me regain control over myself, my sexuality, my culture, my world, me. I felt empowered by my traditions because I was not left out or cast aside. I was a part of something and I had always been a part of something. It was up to me to reclaim myself again.
It is my cultural foundation of Two-Spirit knowledge that has helped me find relevance and empowerment. It was the western world, the one that tried to assimilate me and my gayness into submission that has helped along my healing journey. I find that combining these two ways have helped me so much in life. I will always be First Nations. I will always be Two-Spirit. I will always be a part of the world around me. Your journey might look completely different than my own and that is okay. At the end of the day we can all inform one another on being who we really truly are inside. I just think that makes for a far more interesting world.
I can’t tell you if it gets better or not because everyone’s journey is different. My journey seemed to get worse before it got better. It only became better when I started to do the work needed to improve my life. I took the risk to come out, I rose to the challenges, and I fought to be able to live my truth. It takes a lot of dedication and work to make things in our lives any better. I say keep your eyes open to the knowledge holders & teachers in your life, such as Elders, western counselors, and other Two-Spirit people. The Creator will place these people on your path.
Looking back I think I had taken the hard road on this healing journey. I don’t want to make it sound like I choose to be gay because it is not a choice. Rather, how I dealt with it and how I survived it was by choices. I didn’t always pick the right choices at the right times but I made it this far with a lot of guidance. I made it out so I could tell my Two-Spirit story. There is beauty in being Two-Spirit and there is beauty in living your life being real. My story is here to remind you that you don’t have to choose to run from your truth. So yeah, this is NOT my coming out story. In the Elder’s words, it is not about coming out but rather coming IN to the circle.
I am Two Spirit when I am on our reservations. I am Two Spirit when I am at our pow wows. I am Two Spirit when I am next to you in ceremony. I am Two Spirit when we smudge together. I am Two Spirit when we mourn at funerals of our loved ones. I am Two Spirit when we stand together side by side to fight for our rights. I am Two Spirit when I hold the pipe. I am Two Spirit when our Elders teach us about the old ways. I am Two Spirit when I offer tobacco. I am Two Spirit even when you refuse to acknowledge me. I am Two Spirit when Creator calls us home.