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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.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giving Shame a Voice: Sam

This is the fifth 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?

Well, it was not until I was 19 that I began to understand my feelings toward women. But, I truly understood exactly what was going on with me. I could probably take you all the way back to first grade though...it was pretty apparent.

2. Have you ever felt shame? Describe it.
3. When, and how, did you become aware that you were experiencing shame?

During the summer my parents made me get a job when I turned 16. I had the best job ever, I lifeguarded at a water-park and I worked there for four years during the summer and every year that I worked there I was promoted. Well, the very last year that I worked there was my first year back from The Citadel (I went to school there my first few years of college) and I was promoted to a park manager. I was unfortunately fired at the end of the summer for something that I did not do and I honestly think it was because I was dating a girl.

After I returned from The Citadel after my second year, I started working for a seafood restaurant. I completely hid from everybody that I was gay because I did not want to be known as the lesbian bartender and wanted to be known as just me. I did not even tell my best friend and I would date boys so people would quit asking questions. I hid under this wall of shame for over a year. The second I finally decided to come out and stop hiding everything I did not want to have happen did. But, I embraced who I was. It was when I embraced who I was when I really realized I had been in shame all that time.

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

It would have to be right after my father killed himself. It did not hit me at first that he was never coming back. It took me about three months for it to finally settle in and when it did I became very depressed. It was through this state of depression that I felt very isolated and alone. He understood me more than anyone.

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

When I moved to Austin a few years ago, and started working at a new place. I couldn't even believe how many other gay people worked there!! It was like home. It was an environment where you could be who you were without being judged.

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?

Well, after my dad died I could not get anyone to actually talk to me about what I was going through which is why I think I walked down the lonely and dark path that I did. If I could go back I would tell myself that everything would be okay and that I might not see it right now but with time you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is going to be a rough journey but because of what you are experiencing you will understand something that most people will never understand and you will help out so many others.

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

Truthfully, I am not entirely sure how to answer this question.