Those of you who are around my age will probably remember the film, “Free to Be, You and Me”. It was a film designed to help kids in the early 70’s to feel good about themselves and to be understanding of others. It was truly “evil, left-wing propaganda” designed to break down stereotypes. 🙂
I’ve been thinking a lot about that song this week. The reason is that for the last year, I’m finally beginning to understand what it is like to be free to be me.
Gosh…I spent so many years trying NOT to be me. All through junior high, high school, and college, I worked hard to make sure that nobody knew I was gay. After all, being gay was a fate worse than death back then! Being gay was my little secret…kept in my head and not talked about with anyone. I was too ashamed about the fact that I wasn’t “normal”. And of course, Christianity told me I wasn’t normal so that made it worse. If God didn’t like me this way, then I was in trouble! I had to do my best to change. Years of counseling ensued with all sorts of techniques aimed at learning how not to be me. Then I got married and I spent 19 years in a marriage, trying to deny who I was so that I could be a good straight husband and pastor.
I spent so much energy for so many years trying NOT to be myself so that I could be somebody else. And ultimately, that didn’t work.
And so now, I have learned that it is ok to be me…and with that has come a great deal of freedom…
I am free to notice attractive men. I am free to act in ways that are natural, rather than trying to cover up any gay tendencies. I am free to love the man in my life. I am free not to worry about what others think. I am free to be open about who I am without having to hide. I am free to be in church and have my arm around my partner. I am free to minister out of who I am, rather than trying to minister out of a caricature that I have created. I am free to be me…and that feels really good.
I love the freedom I have to be me. I love that I don’t have to waste energy being someone I’m not. I love that I can put the voices of nay-sayers behind me and not worry about them. And I love living in a city where being gay is not looked down upon. I am a normal part of this city and I don’t have to hide.
My prayer is that everyone who is reading this would find the courage to be themselves. You don’t have to change. You don’t have to be anyone else. Do whatever it takes to be ok with who you are…and then live it!
You and I are free to be you and me.