Sexuality does not come with a handbook. It is something that everyone is born with and cultivates throughout their lifetime--flowing in and out with the ever-flowing ideas of love.
As a small child, I knew I was different. My mother raised my twin sister and I with infinite love and individuality. She always said, “Be a leader, never a follower” and “I love you more.” Throughout our childhood, my sister and I were the kids who got kisses on the lips and huge hugs full of love—without a question.
Love is a huge part of my life. It is a word I use heavily and mean it every time it leaves my lips. I just didn’t know why it could hurt so badly—that when you love is when trust is lost and souls are beaten down. In my earlier years, my love for this world became so bruised that I questioned my life and every relationship I had ever cultivated.
My roots of deep individuality hurt me; it was something that was instilled in my entire being and something that was challenged daily. As one can imagine, high school is a time of a major metamorphosis in one’s life, a time where we all start to imagine whom we want to be, where all of our hopes and dreams are built. By the time we are done, we leave for college to start completely over. Throughout my adolescence, I was taunted, questioned, and told what my sexuality was. Quite honestly, I didn’t even know. How could I have known if I was never in love with anyone?
By the time I left for college, I definitely knew I was gay. After all of the self-loathing, body shaming, and tears into journal entries, I confronted my deepest fear—my sexuality. It was hard to come to terms with something that others already saw in me, something that I had no control over. I didn’t want to be gay; I just wanted to be “normal”—whatever the fuck that meant.
Leaving a small town in northern Minnesota and heading to the largest metropolitan city in the state was the best decision I ever made. College was a fresh new start and I was going to embrace all life had to offer—including my sexuality and all the hoops and struggles that would bring.
I started college as an open book. I left all of my doubts and insecurities in the car and could finally be me. Little did I know, I had a lot to learn and discover about being a young gay man in the Twin Cities.
College was the first time I was ever told I was attractive—that I had something to offer to this world. I took this like I was dodging a flying golf ball. I thought I wasn’t attractive and I was perfectly content with being single for the rest of my life. Meeting and befriending other young gay men, I found out that I was definitely behind in the dating scene. What the hell are Grindr, Tinder, and OkCupid? To my ignorance, I needed it all.
Later to find out, none of these dating sites really work. They are just another median to objectify yourself and your sexuality. Either it was older men wanting to get in my pants or young men wanting to send me their nudes. I quickly found out this was not my style—thinking, “why the hell can’t I just meet a guy in a coffee shop?”
I also found out that as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community that I needed to be labeled. Was I a twink, a bear, an otter, a chub . . . ?! NO. I realized that I am Marko and I will only be Marko until the day I leave this earth. I, as a gay identifying human being, will never identify with these marginalizing terms in an already historically marginalized group. I came out—wasn’t that enough?
Yes, that was enough. It took me months to be able to realize that. After falling apart, mentally, emotionally, and physically, I knew I was enough. I knew that I could be and do whatever I wanted—that I needed to be a pivotal game changer in this close-minded ideology of sexuality. Yes I may joke about being gay, but I also embrace and fight for it. I also embrace that I am a son, a brother, a male, a college student, a grandson, a friend, a lover. My friends, sexuality is only an aspect in the culture of your identities. It helps us only to define a speck of what matters in this world—“to love and be loved.”
On a side note:
With the recent events happening around the United States, the question of love and the freedom to love come into the limelight. As a gay man, I can genuinely say I am scared of where our country is at this moment, I am lost to the sense of humanity and equality. BUT I am so impressed by those who are embracing their LGBTQIA+ friends and those who are fighting for our right to love freely. I know that I cannot let acts of terror inhibit my way of life, but when will it be over, when will we all feel safe in a country that is supposedly "free?" My love for this world and my country is strong yet I am puzzled by people and what they believe is the "right way" to live and love. My friends, please, in this time of unsureness, I ask you to have conversations with your LGBTQIA+ friends, we are scared for our community and what may come from the hatred of others. Sexuality is already a difficult identity to embrace. Let us learn, let us love, and most importantly, let us live.
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love yourself.