05
Apr
12

And the beat goes on…

This, my 62nd year, has been one of personal discovery. Finally coming to terms with my introversion was miraculously liberating. I believe in the old axiom that to name something is to own it. I no longer feel like some freak of nature who is unable to live in society. I know what I have to do to survive in the world, but I also know that, in order to maintain my sanity, I must be able to retreat from the world when all is said and done.  My biggest challenge, now, is to find a means to overcome a disabling case of shyness, existing independently of the introversion. This ain’t easy folks! I struggle daily to not get lost in the shuffle of life. I am constantly in pursuit of an easier path to socialization.  I find I always need to push myself to interaction, despite of social ineptness.

Recently premiered by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and composed by Stephen Schwartz, the song “Testimony” speaks to the angst, turmoil and exasperation felt by many young people as they cope with their discovery  of same-sex attraction.  “In writing TESTIMONY, Stephen Schwartz collaborated with Dan Savage, creator of the groundbreaking “It Gets Better Project.” Schwartz has set the heartfelt words from the “It Gets Better” videos to music, weaving them into a breathtaking, emotional new masterpiece that speaks to anyone who has ever felt  out of place.”

In all the weeks of rehearsal, I was never once able finish the piece without breaking down in sobs.  But, I didn’t understand my own connection to the music. I came bursting through the closet door as an adult. There was little trauma since my years of seminary demanded a life of celibacy, which I honored faithfully. I did not experience the dread, the pain and confusion of a young person coping in a world of homophobia. Why was this music affecting me so deeply?

Yesterday, an acquaintance from chorus responded to my post to Facebook from the  previous evening where  I lamented the fact that I still struggle daily with this social awkwardness. He expressed the same feelings I had. He also finds interaction difficult and, even, debilitating.  We have promised to help each other through rough spots.  At one point in our chat, he mentioned the opening line of Testimony: “I don’t want to be like this”.  And then it hit me. That song, indeed, “speaks to anyone who has ever felt out of place .”  I understood. And, while my time on this earth rapidly draws to a close, I know,  with endurance and the help of friends,   it will get better. I become more and more comfortable in my own skin as I continually work to find out just who I am.  I know, that when the time comes and I move on to another place I will be able to say, as we sing in Testimony, “I want to come back as me”.

Testimony

Music by Stephen Schwartz

Based on texts from the “It Gets Better Project”
Composed for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
World Premier, March 20, 2012

I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to be who I am.
Every day that I don’t change I blame myself. I am not trying hard enough.

I don’t want to be how I am. When they find out, no one will love me,
I’ll lose my family and all of my friends. I’m trapped like a fish with a hook in its mouth.

I am impersonating the person I show as me.
I am an imposter. I am a spy behind enemy lines.
I pack my feelings so deep inside me, they turn to concrete.

Every night I ask God to end my life. I am an abomination.
God, take this away or take me away.

Today, I’m going to hang myself. I’m trapped.
Today, I’m going to slit my wrists. I’m stuck.
Today, I’m going to jump off my building.

Take me away. Take me away. Take me away.

Hang in. Hang on. Wait just a little longer.

I know it now. I know it now.
If I had made myself not exist, there is so much I would have missed.

I would have missed so many travels and adventures, more wonders than I knew could be.

So many friends with jokes and secrets not to mention,
the joy of living in authenticity.

Sometimes I cry, life can still be hard,
but there’s no part of me still crying “Hide me.”

I would have missed the chance to sing out like this
with people I love beside me.

I have been brave.I grew and so did those around me.
And now look what a life I’ve earned.

It gets more than better. It gets amazing and astounding.

If I could reach my past, I’d tell him what I’ve learned.
I was more loved than I dared to know. There were open arms I could not see.

And when I die and when it’s my time to go, I want to come back as me.

I want to come back as me.

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