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The Burr Magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

The Burr Magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

The Burr Magazine

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Growing Up Gay #3: The Creative Way


Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

As this semester and this year come to a close so too must this series come to an end. In my last blog, I discussed learning how to take up space without apologizing for it, a problem prevalent among women and LGBTQ people alike. This time, I want to talk a little bit about the other ways we can (and do) take up space. For me, my element was the arts. 

When you were in high school, were you one of those “weird kids”? Well, I was. Even in my group of “outcasts” and “misfits,” I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. It might have been because I grew up too early to relate to my peers or because I’m just such a painfully introverted person, but other people always intrigued yet drained me. 

Empathy is a funny thing because although we may want to feel for others, it can be hard to deal with their emotions (let alone our own). I think that’s my downfall at times. So to use up some of those excess emotions, I’ve used art to dive into them without being inside my head too much. Some of the outlets I used in high school were theater, band, choir, art, ceramics, photography and, of course, writing. Uncoincidentally, I think this is where all the other people like me flocked to as well. 

The theater is always a safe place for all types of expression. This is true historically, too, with cross-dressing, dramatically flamboyant actors and all the rule-breaking playwrights in combination, all working to freely express traditionally repressed topics. Before there was ever terminology for LGBTQ people, this was the only safe(ish) space for those types of expressions. I remember when I felt most comfortable and happy with myself was backstage during a production when all the silliness and freedom were readily acceptable because it was just what was expected. The guys were allowed to wear stage makeup. The girls could wear men’s costumes and be in men’s roles. We could be together and not feel the separations that society placed on us because there was no need to hide. I miss those days now, thinking of all the playful times we shared, but I’m also thankful not to be playing a role anymore. I can bring that playfulness into my real life now, because I’m living in my truth, and no one decides that but me.

In band and choir, you can expect that there were some hilarious oddball moments. The cliche about “the band kids” being wiley, unruly, amazing oddballs isn’t exactly false, but this was also one of those places where everyone could break down the labels placed upon them. The stereotypes were all represented, but jocks and geeks alike, we all came together for one reason: creativity and music-making. It didn’t matter if you grew up rich, poor, gay, straight, etc., in the music department as long as your instrument came out in time and in tune. That’s not to say there weren’t struggles, but they seemed to matter a little less in that cacophonous room. It didn’t matter that my clarinet was held together by masking tape and chapstick (no, really, it was), because I could still go on playing, and nobody cared. 

Since then, writing has been my primary form of expression. Sometimes, it’s easier talking to a page than talking to a person, so to communicate with my deepest self, I use writing as a form of therapy. When it came to figuring out myself as part of the LGBTQ community, writing was an obvious outlet. For me, diving into books always held some semblance of safety, because when nothing else was safe, the privacy between me and my words was unbroken. Poetry and journaling are there for me when I can’t seem to get the words out in person. Today, they’ve helped me reach some of you out there too. So to say goodbye to you all this semester, I want to share one last poem that I think represents the overall acceptance I feel here at Kent State, despite the feelings of loneliness and despair this year would have me feel. It’s been such a gift to communicate with you all this semester on this blog, and I hope to continue doing so next year. Until then, thank you for reading, stay safe and keep on growing. 

Those Fading Figures

Today I observe the lives of us.

Tomorrow will be the same.

All intelligent consciousnesses rushing in and

Out, pulsating- to and fro.

We all share a rhythm here,

Sun fades, into and out, or through.

Some unknown figure rushes past me,

Glances exchanged. 

All of us; mirages of figures sheer.

There is a striving for love here,

To learn is a gift we can agree upon.

We attempt to connect in spite of ourselves.

Ending each year dismally, but nonetheless fond.

There is some callousness here,

Our differences shade the lines between us.

But we act in a breadth of nonexistence

Actively knowing and not knowing the distance.

The lively music our footsteps make each day rush onward

Chords attach, each of us the same, if only in that.

The night of day is stark here, but we rush on, 

Day by day, discoveries made, we leave our mark 

Then we move on, fading figures, growing here and beyond. 

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