Jordan Reeves – TED-Ed Community Manager
I’m going to be totally honest with you. What I’m going to share with you today is something I’ve not shared with anyone before and it makes me really nervous.
On the one hand, I’m an advocate for the LGBT community. I’m a gay man, so their best interest is my best interest. On the other hand, for 23 years I was entrenched in the conservative Christian way that is undeniably prevalent in this part of the country.
I’m from Hueytown, Alabama. I grew up in the South and I know her well. And although I only came out 5 years ago, I also grew up gay. While my childhood was nearly perfect and I never received anything but support from my family, my internal monologue was always, “Am I normal?” “Why is being with a man any different than being with a woman?” So many times I just wanted my feelings to change.
See, I grew up in an environment that was not friendly to gay people and I learned that very early. I can remember people in elementary, middle and high school calling me “faggot” or “sissy”. I don’t blame them, they were just regurgitating their parents’ beliefs. I wasn’t much different. I didn’t use their words but I did stand on their side of the argument. I was both outwardly fighting against homosexuality and internally longing for the moment when I could openly embrace it.
[Audience member: “We love you, man.”]
I love you guys, thank you, thank you. It’s particularly a hard story to tell. And I’ve gone over it over and over and over again, but each time I talk about it, even in front of people, not like in an audience like this, it’s difficult for many reasons. You know, my mom is a very special person to me and while I wouldn’t change much about my childhood, because of the support I had from my family, I would change the fact that I spent most of it living in fear. Mortal fear, the kind of fear that you experience when you’re deep in a nightmare and you wake up screaming. I remember crying until I had no tears left. My heart was broken, not because I had lost love, but because I thought I could never love at all.