Writes of Passage: Rick Andreoli
Stop journaling about girls. No one’s ever going to find your journal, and no amount of wishing in the world is going to change reality.
You’re gay. I know it, and if you move past the fear you’ll know it, too. And once you get over that initial panic that your entire world will lose all control, you’re going to feel a sense of giddy peace and freedom that will set your soul on fire. It will be like that high you feel after attending a church youth group retreat, and when you compare those two spiritual sensations you’ll also recognize that you can be gay and still be a part of God.
It’s a lot to process in one year, I know, but you’ll be fine.
I’d tell you not to fall in love with the first guy you sleep with, but it won’t help. You will, it will suck—mostly because you’ll feel like a fool for irrationally loving someone who was so obviously not a right match—but you will move on and be a better person for the experience.
Not that you won’t do the same thing again (You kind of have a habit of repeating yourself when it comes to these early lessons in gay life.) but eventually you’ll come out of it legally married. That’s right, legally married as a gay man. And you’ll be happy in a way that can never be adequately described in books or TV shows or movies.
That news must seem hard to believe, because right now when you look in the mirror you see this slightly dumpy dude with the makings of a mullet and unending acne. You don’t feel cute, and even though you know you have a massive sexy streak on the inside you have no idea how anyone could ever find you attractive. But they will. You’ll figure out a workout regimen, you’ll actually discover you enjoy fitness, and you’ll suddenly know the rush of having hot guys think you’re hot.
You’ll also discover a kind of glorious, tribal culture in the club world. You will spend weekends on the dance floor, moving in a sea of sweaty, shirtless, godlike creatures who will make you feel like you’re part of this incredibly sexy underground tribe. Every week you’ll descend into the underworld and go on a journey of self and sexual discovery, and you’ll never, ever want it to end.
But know this: everything in the world—both gay and mainstream—has its price.
You’ll quickly understand that thinking you're hot doesn’t make you more socially or spiritually balanced. You’ll also experience the soul-shattering realization that the ecstasy you feel on a dance floor is quickly replaced by its evil twin, and all those fears and insecurities you felt before coming out will rear their ugly heads once more.
But don’t get all judgey and think that partying, vanity, or any of these various gay obsessions are totally bad; they’re part of the reason why queer culture is so much fun. You can be in these worlds as long as you stay true to yourself.
That means always treating others with the respect and dignity you’d want for yourself, trying not to take rejection personally, and taking responsibility for your actions. Yes, it will be difficult dealing with your mistakes head on, but the more you do that the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Finally, all those big fanciful dreams you have for your life and writing career? They won’t happen—at least not the way you’re envisioning them—and that repeated understanding will send you into frequent depressions. (FYI, the partying won’t help with the depression so you might want to do something about that.) But here’s one bit of advice that should help get you through the rough times:
Just because the dream isn’t happening the way you imagined it would, that doesn’t mean the dream isn’t happening.
Stay true, stay strong, and know that I love you.
Rick Andreoli is the Editor in Chief of Gay.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband Steve Thompson.
Read more letters in our National Coming Out Day section on Gay.com.