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This blog is a hate-free place, dedicated to the spreading of awareness and understanding of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community, their shame experiences and their potential to be resilient. Our goal is to increase your empathy and compassion.

We do not claim to be experts on this topic, however, we recognize the importance of sharing what we can in the hope that at least one person feels compelled to re-evaluate their thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Giving Shame a Voice: Ben

This is the first edition of our Giving Shame a Voice series.

Read, and learn.

We hope this brings you one step closer to understanding the shame experienced in the GLBT Community, and an even larger step closer to developing empathy and compassion for them.

1. When did you first know that you were gay?

I can remember when I was about 8 years old; imagining that my teddy bear was a male and hugging it very tight. I first realized I was homosexual when I was about 15 and I tried to search for naked men on the internet and got caught by my mother.

2. Have you ever felt shame? Describe it.

I felt shame once when I was walking with my other homosexual friends to a local bar, and when passing the heterosexual bars I felt humiliated and shamed like I was a minority and was not able to express myself.

3. When, and how, did you become aware that you were experiencing shame?

I became aware that I was experiencing shame when I began to walk faster like I was not a part of the homosexual group I was with.

4. Describe a time when you felt isolated or alone in the world?

When I came home one night to my ex-boyfriend vandalizing my apartment and breaking all of my things. I felt isolated and alone.

5. Explain a time when you weren’t comfortable with yourself. When, or how, did you get to a place where you eventually were?

In high school I often shied away because I knew I was attracted to the same sex, but I could not express myself openly about it with anyone. Because I held in the frustration with being closeted, when I turned 18 and graduated from high school I often went to the homosexual bars to meet others, and I got a tattoo to show my freedom and independence.

6. If you could go back and see yourself at a time when you were experiencing shame and darkness, what would you say to your past self?

If I can go back and see myself when I was experiencing shame, I would tell myself that I can and will get through the darkness, and that I will eventually gain confidence and begin to know myself better as I age and mature.

7. What stereotypes apply to the GLBT Community? Have you ever been the victim of such labels?

Gay males are feminine, GLBT have HIV/AIDS, every GLBT has some sort of bug, party animals, sinners, and homosexual males do not know how to accomplish any male oriented work. I often feel the strongest labels and stereotypes come from heterosexuals that I don’t know, mostly heterosexual males.