Some people are just lucky

by Jillian Drinnon
The Rural Gay Columnist

I’ve been told I’m lucky. I agree that I am, but I often think being lucky depends on perspective. A person can seem so put-together from a distance; however, presentation is usually different than reality.

Coming from a small town and being gay in said small town made me acutely aware of presentation. 

As many of you rural gays are surely familiar with, living in a small town means everyone knows everyone, and because of this, information travels quickly. Everything you say must be considered carefully. Being gay just adds an extra level of difficulty to all the things you have to consider, especially when you aren’t out.

Some brave souls decide to embrace themselves and face those complications head-on at a very young age. I, being a person who has always hated confrontation, became very good at altering my presentation and hiding away my real narrative.

All of this added up to me seemingly always being lucky. Phrases like, “you are always just so happy!” or “You just seem to have it all figured out!” were thrown around everywhere I went. In my little town, I was a sunshiny little disabled girl who was going to conquer the world. I was happy with the image I presented, and in many, many ways, I really was and still am the sunshiny little disabled woman who is going to conquer the world, but that’s not the whole story. 

The flipside of the sunshiny outside was a very complicated inside. Depending on the age, there was always a unique challenge. When others saw me as a little girl who did well in school despite her “special needs,” I was dealing with bullying.

When I was excelling in my hobbies at 14, toting around blue ribbons from every art show I went to, I was crying myself to sleep because I thought God hated me for liking girls. When I was the 16-year-old prodigy in college, I was grappling with coming out and drowning in stress. When I was 18, fulfilling my dreams of being an artist, I was more depressed than I had ever been. 

All of this is not to say those good things were not good—I am grateful for all the opportunities that have been presented to me, as well as my family who helped me meet those opportunities. I speak of these flipsides because I truly and deeply believe everyone is struggling with their own complicated narrative. For that, we should all attempt to give each other a certain level of respect. 

Beyond this, I challenge all my fellow country gays out there to try to be open. I think many of us have been trained by experience that acting out one trope or another from a high school comedy is safer than being honest.

Rejection is a cold sting many LGBTQA+ people must cope with. We’ve all lost friends, family, and loved ones, but risking that loss is the only way we can become truly close to others. 

At the end of the day, I really think we all just want, maybe need, is to be understood. The old saying goes, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.”

So, in being preparing to be vulnerable, we all could be truly lucky. 

Copyright The Gayly. 3/17/2020 @ 10:18 a.m. CST.