I am no longer interested in your condemnations of me.
I am no longer interested in your anger
or your pity
or your guilt trips
or your judgments that my sexuality is wrong or unnatural.
I am no longer interested in your clippings about how homosexuality can be cured.
I do not view myself as a disorder to be healed
or a political argument to be refuted
or a theological position to be debated.
I am no longer interested in responding to your arguments
or your Bible verses
or your propaganda downloaded from < billygraham.org >.
I have moved beyond grief at the way you exclude me.
I have moved beyond anger at the way you condemn me.
Now all I feel is sadness:
sadness that you will never know me (this is your loss);
sadness that you will never know the wonderful others who love me;
sadness that you are held captive by your fears;
sadness at the joys you’ll never know;
sadness that you live in a black-and-white world
and will never know the vivid and wonder-filled technicolor world in which I live.
Welcome to the ranks of those who feel
deeply. This is not an easy path.
You will be subject to both anxiety attacks
and random attacks of grace.
You will have days when everything is crystal clear
and days when everything is murky grey.
You will have days when you will feel such joy
you’ll think you might explode.
And you will have days when you will feel despair
so deeply you’ll long to be shallow again
and wonder if you can ever return to normal.
The answer is no.
Your capacity for love — the depths of your compassion —
your ability to experience the emotions that make life worth living —
these are directly proportionate to your ability to feel pain.
This is your blessing and this is your curse.
Buddhist monks in long robes drumming handdrums chanting
na mu myo ho renge kyo
carrying banners for peace as their pilgrimage
leads them through another small-town square
and the townfolk gather to stare at them
with amazement and confusion
as if they were alien beings from a distant shining planet
and a cashier sees them through the window
over the rows of carton cigarettes
and shakes her head with disgust and says
if those assholes had jobs they wouldn’t have time for all this shit
as if the job of peace were not important
as if the job of prayer were not what holds this world together
A licensed professional counselor in private practice in metro Atlanta, Darrell Grizzle is the author of I Never Meant to Start a Murder Cult and Other Stories.