8Dec/120

The Face of Gay 21 (Thom)

RECOVERED

I can honestly say I knew Thom before he became a publisher author! Granted, I still haven’t met him in person yet, but we’re working on that. Maybe one year at DragonCon. What I thought I knew about him recently went right out the window when I read his post for this series. It’s one thing to ‘know’ somebody via social media and a few phone calls discussing publishing pointers, but to really dig into the nitty-gritty?

Someone complained two weeks ago that they felt these posts were too sugarcoated and never delved into the ugly side of life. I disagree, but that’s my own humble opinion. I’d also challenge that person to read this week’s post and call this sugarcoated. And with that, welcome to Thom’s Face of Gay.

The Face of Gay 21 (Thom)

To fully comprehend my story, one must understand the origins of this individual. Growing up in a large family is bound to have hardships. Not only would one have siblings that are stronger, faster, and smarter in constant competition for the eyes of either parent, such competition could hinder the concept of self for the individual. To be clear, this is not a story of self-pity, nor a finger pointing blame at the way I am; this is merely a recount of the building blocks that construct the being that I call Thom.

My story began on the day my parents told my siblings and me that they were getting a divorce. Over 10 years later, I have identified that moment as the moment the last four of us stopped being nurtured by the parties responsible. My older four siblings (who did not share the same father as us younger four) were off in the world, doing their own things. I was the oldest child still at home, which would default me as the rock. My younger siblings relied on me to get them through the tough times. Admittedly, I had no experience and made a ton of mistakes, but we survived. Anything was better than the ambivalent game of chess my parents played with us against each other.

My father, an abusive alcoholic that had mastered mental manipulation in a way that would make the face blush, went on to remarry, as if to demonstrate that he didn’t really care what happened to his first family or whether any of his children followed him. My mother, exhausted from her marriage with my father, did not remarry. This was not for a lack of trying, as she made attempts. It is my belief that her expectations were set on perfection, and that could not be found in the area she was in. I felt that she would only concern herself with our well-being if her status as a parent was in jeopardy.

I was twelve or thirteen when my parents announced this. Between then and fifteen years old, I don’t remember much more than being a pawn in their games. It was 15 when I decided I was going to identify myself separate from “the little ones,” a name coined for my father’s children. I came out, much to the surprise of everyone; this bold change went against the trend of bland that was forecasted. My attempts at trying to fit in despite being significantly different were failing miserably, so I succumbed to everything that made me stand out, which included OCD, an eating disorder, and Tourettes Syndrome (which started sometime in middle school and intensified with traumatic events in my life). Some days, I feel like a walking statistic.

To the world, it looked like I sought someone to take care of me. The reality was that I went from relationship to relationship, trying to find the part of the grown-up self that didn’t exist. I was still that twelve-year-old boy who had to become a man too soon. I would think that I found a second half of me, only to lose myself to the expectation of my partner’s ideal relationship. I have wanted as many different lifestyles for myself as I have had boyfriends.

I spend most of my time alone worrying about ending up alone, focusing on the probability of meeting someone. When looked at mathematically, 10% of the population is gay. Factoring in family, religious, and obligatory hindrances, I estimate that a quarter of them are able to openly identify themselves as who they are. Throw into the mix my quirks and conditions, lack of self confidence, and a few personal preferences, and you will get the image of a guy who does not exist, or if he does, he certainly wouldn’t fancy me.

Thus began my quest to live right by everything. My obsession with the proper behavior and phrasing of everything I say or do took over my life. It started out as not wanting to upset my father but matured into OCD. Still to this day, I struggle with what constitutes as acceptable behavior. Some days, I feel I need to be perfect to make up for all of the aspects of me that clearly aren’t.

My thoughts were this: if I lived perfectly, I would have the perfect boyfriend, my parents would finally recognize me as a success, I would have the ideal job, the ideal house, and the ideal family. I wouldn’t need for anything, and would be able to give others what they wanted. I would be the gay white Oprah.

I didn’t realize that, in striving for perfection, I would be isolating others, making my goal a competition with others (as I had in the past with my siblings). I didn’t realize that I would be pushing away the people I love because they didn’t fit in the neat compartments I had originally planned. I didn’t realize I’d be sacrificing many of the things I love just because I wanted to devote myself to the image of a life without them.

I recently got out of a relationship of four years. He was mentally abusive, commanding, and always had me walking on egg-shells, although I couldn’t see any of that while we were together. I was ready to propose to him when he told me he didn’t want me around anymore. Devastation hit me hard, and I contemplated injuring myself on multiple instances (my unbroken skin is stronger than I thought). However, my soul had been torn in two and I felt the ache.

Finding love in this dog-eat-dog world is hard, and I thought I had found it on multiple instances since then. I believe I have found my happily-ever-after, though. If there is one thing I’ve learned is that love is blind to all faults. I know I’m not perfect; I’m far from it by a long shot. Anthony loves me because of it. Vice versa, I know that wanting to punch him sometimes shows how much I love and care him. If there is one common denominator in my past relationships, it’s that I was looking for someone to love me for me and not what I could offer them. I hope I’ve finally found that.

For the most part, I fight to keep my head above water every day. It’s easier when I reduce the causes of stress, particularly family, failure, and rejection. But if there’s one lesson that can be learned from my story, it’s compassion. You never know what a person is dealing with, the demons he or she faces that cause him or her to be a certain way. Always extend generous hands to your enemies, whether you think they deserve it or not. One day, you may need them; that day, they may not be there for you.

If you’d be so kind, please let Thom a little love in a comment below. Also, if you have a story of your own you’d like to share, then please contact me and let’s set it up.

The Previous 5 entries in the Face of Gay Series:

The Face of Gay 16 (Adriana D’Apolito)
The Face of Gay 17 (Rick Reed)
The Face of Gay 18 (Julie L. Hayes)
The Face of Gay 19 (Angel Martinez)
The Face of Gay 20 (Paul Bright)
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Original Responses

Silver says:
December 8, 2012 at 10:00 am
Thank you for sharing… Your story rings true more then I care to share. Your a strong person stronger then you realize sometimes. I wish you all the best and hope your holidays are the best and the new year bring you your hearts desires.

silver

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Thank you, Silver. I think each of us has a weakness that we dwell on too much. I’ve found that the phrase, “This makes me special,” generates more strength than the phrase, “This makes me different.” The strength created fuels the courage to fight in the new day. I appreciate your kind words and wish you tidings of good cheer in the holidays to come. <3

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Kimber Kahn says:
December 8, 2012 at 10:25 am
I can only echo what Silver said and hope you take it to heart. We all have demons, and overcoming them can be the hardest task we take on, but know that you are not alone. Know that there is someone or more than one someone at times that can understand you, can relate to your situation, and won’t judge you because of who you are or where you came from, and expects nothing from you but that you be yourself.
I have found that some of the most loved people in my life are not those that I was born related to, but those that I went out and found and made my family. I hope you have an amazing holiday season and a glorious New Year. And should you feel like talking, I’ve got two reasonably good ears. 🙂

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Kimber, your sincerity is unbridled. Too true that we constitute blood as family, but it’s amazing to see where a true family can be forged from. One person who should have made it into my story but didn’t is a very close friend of mine, Rebecca. I love her with all of my heart. I don’t think I could face a day without her in my life. The mere though of it is grievous. I joke that if I were straight or if she were a boy, we would be made for one another. I consider her closer than anybody who is directly related to me. It’s a shame we live states away from each other; however, I firmly believe it’s for a reason.

And thank you for your offer. I may, some day, take you up on that. 🙂 <3

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Dorien says:
December 8, 2012 at 10:35 am
Would that everyone could be as honest with themselves as you, Thom. Here’s hoping someone else in your position (and there are a great many) can read your story and follow your lead.

Thanks, and all good wishes for finding what you want from life.

Dorien

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Thank you, Dorien. I will remember your kind words to remind me that, on days when I feel like an example of what not to do in life, I can also be a model for how to overcome said adversity. <3

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Lloyd Meeker says:
December 8, 2012 at 11:14 am
Kudos for traveling your journey consciously, Thom. It takes courage and discipline to travel authentically.

I’m a firm believer that biographies should begin at the end, because ultimately it’s not what happens to us, but what kind of person we become and how we have to grow to get there.

So heartfelt respect to you as you fill your life with who you are. You’ve clearly got what it takes to do that!

All best wishes,
Lloyd

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm
Lloyd, I appreciate your kind words. When I was proposed to for this seemingly insurmountable task, an image of a tangled ball of twine an a responsibility of unraveling it came to mind. However, as initially stated, I’m a perfectionist and had to do it in the proper order. Admittedly, I could go on for pages and pages, but that’s what I pay my therapist for. 😛

But thank you for your support. It’s good to know there are still kind-hearted people out there. <3

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Bobbie B says:
December 8, 2012 at 11:55 am
Thom,

I am near tears as I type this. I recognize too much of my own childhood and parts of my adulthood in this post. The Demons of family horrors never truly go away but the way we deal with them changes. Even with therapy, medication, a loving husband and children, my mother disowning me yet again has caused nightmares of growing up with her, my stepdad, and sisters to crop up.

Hugs!!!

Bobbie

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm
Bobbie, the challenges we face and the ability to overcome them measures our strength (and girl, you’ve got what it takes). Not meaning to break out into song (which is apparently my thing), but we’re all in this together, and it shows when we stand hand in hand and make our dreams come true. To be honest, I didn’t want to bring anyone to tears, which is why I tackled it eloquently scientific. I wanted it to be more of a study than a story. But I am glad you were moved by it. Thank you for your support. <3

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Bobbie B says:
December 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm
Kage,

If the people complaining about sugar coating had bothered to read ALL OF THE POSTS, they would have a whole picture not just the gooey spots.

Every single one of these posts, including my own, has hit home in some fashion. Most have left me in tears of happiness or sadness, but still having hope. Hope for a good future for my children and humanity. The responses to my post helped me to understand how much I mean to my family, even if I never hear it from them (hubby and the kids excluded).

Bobbie

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Lloyd Songal says:
December 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm
Kage, I appreciate you sharing so much. I feel it makes me a stronger person just knowing someone else has experienced similar situations as myself and it also helps me to grow stronger in my own convictions.
The most important thing I have realised is that someone who can not except you for who we are it is our fault but rather their loss for not being able to be more understanding and accepting of people in general.
You do not have to believe in what others believe; just understand that is what they believe to be true for themselves.

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Kage says:
December 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm
Actually, that was Thom who shared, Lloyd. Not little ol’ innocent angelic moi.

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm
Thank you, Lloyd. It’s important to remember that people like us are not alone.

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Patricia Logan says:
December 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Thom,

I can only say that I think you are a man of great courage. You are so right when you say that people have no idea what another person may be experiencing and should always give them the benefit of the doubt. When someone was unkind to me, my old Christian mother used to say, just pray for them honey; maybe they have more on their plate than they can handle. I felt that way a lot when I worked AIDS hospice in the early 90′s.

“Blood” relatives used to sweep on in and kick out their son’s partner and some of these people hadn’t seen or given a shit about that patient for years. They had no idea what had gone on in their lives or who their partners were or the love they shared with one another. Blood relatives are some of the most cruel people of all.

I do hope you find the happiness that you’ve been searching so hard for. I do hope that you can continue to look at life as a half-full glass and keep that hope for a better future in your heart. I join the others here with my wishes for a joyous holiday season and a blessed new year.

P.S. My new gay romance novel, Silver Secrets, which comes out Christmas day has a very sexy main character named Thom (same spelling) 🙂

XO Patti

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Kage says:
December 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm
Oh, no, she didn’t…

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Patricia Logan says:
December 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm
It just struck me as coincidental 🙂

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm
I’m going to be asking for book 1 of the Silver series for Christmas. Have to start at the beginning if I’m going to read about someone who shares my name. 🙂

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Patricia Logan says:
December 8, 2012 at 10:58 pm
I was teasing Ba. I love the Face of Gay for it’s sheer beauty and honesty.

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Thom says:
December 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm
Patricia, thank you so much. As I explained in earlier comments, friendship can sometimes be thicker than blood. Don’t get me wrong, I do get along with some of my family (none of whom will find out about this expose). It’s the people who want to be in our lives and don’t have to that shows us how great of a support system we really have.

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Katherine Trick says:
December 9, 2012 at 12:28 am
Thom,
Thank you for sharing your story with such honesty and truth. Truth is what people respond to most of all. Your journey has been one with many negatives and hardships, but adversity is what makes us stronger. You have shown much courage by not letting the negatives make you a negative person. By sharing your story and showing how you have chosen to rise above the crap and choose to look for better, to be better, you have undoubtedly helped at least one person know that they can get to that place, too.
I wish you only the best as you continue your journey thru life. It’s not always easy, but it’s guaranteed to be interesting.

Katy Trick

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Jeff P says:
December 9, 2012 at 3:55 am
Hi Thom,
I too have had similar family issues so I feel your pain. The sad thing is that I am seeing it again with my brother and his child. Being the “Gay white Oprah” is a noble task, but I think Oprah has that task down. Be you..it is more interesting.

JP Adkins

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Bruce Majors says:
December 10, 2012 at 10:01 am
More pictures!

________________________
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, and the upcoming Falling Awake II: Revenant.

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