ExposedSometimes I sit and stare out my window wondering about how different life would’ve been for the reflection staring back at through life’s mirror. What if fate didn’t shine it’s flashlight on my hidden reality? Where would I be, who would I be, how would I be living? As a child I observed everything around me and quickly knew the life I was meant to grow up to live. But somewhere the recognition turned into confusion as my feelings weren’t cooperating with society’s definition of a boy like me. But then, society really didn’t know a boy like me; a boy who decided to remain hidden and shield himself from feelings and thoughts that were exposed to be sinful. I decided I would be who society wanted me to be even if that meant exposing me as a fraud to myself.

I was comfortable in a secured closet with no one knowing my secret. But I was quickly drowning in paranoia and stress of people around me finding out. Family, friends, co-workers and people I barely knew. I was afraid of the judgments, the resentments, the neglect…so frightened that I lost my sense of self and at one period even turned my back on me. People wondered and I turned away, people asked and I denied. I was covered by my own fear not ready to be stripped and left naked to those I felt wouldn’t approve. I never wanted to be pointed at and called a faggot or pointed at with insane assumptions. I didn’t want to be defined as a lesser man because of who my heart decided to love. I was not opening my closet door and exposing myself to the non-accepting world.

It happened on a sunny morning close to my twenty-forth birthday. It was a day I opened my eyes and realized I had to live for myself, challenging those around me to accept and understand who I was. To challenge them to see the value in me as an individual and show them that I was not a different man, just one who wouldn’t live a life of lies. Many found out as I no longer held back who I was and luckily for me there was acceptance. The closet door swung open and I walked out with feet of pride. I created my own exposure realizing that it was important for me to do so for others in my same situation. To see strength is to be encouraged and to be encouraged is to live life the way that makes you happy and whole. Yesterday I was unrevealed, hidden in a world of confusion and shame. Today, I’m a man content with who he is because now it is happiness that is exposed.

Tarringo T Vaughan
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