As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I feel obligated to reflect on my life and what I’m most thankful for. I really only do this out of necessity — if I’m being honest, I find Thanksgiving to be a useless holiday. Apart from the lies and bullsh-t we’re fed as schoolchildren about how the first Thanksgiving brought two adversaries together, the holiday just encourages gluttony and excessive drinking — I don’t need a designated day to do that. And isn’t Thanksgiving just pre-Christmas anyway? The only real difference between the two is the color palette.
Regardless of my personal feelings toward the futile holiday, I still partake in all the Turkey Day shenanigans. There are some advantages, like having time-off from work and class. I always end up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning with my parents. At dinner, I witness the breaking of the wishbone between two extended cousins. And during dessert, I spew rehearsed platitudes when it’s my turn to say what I’m thankful for. But this year, instead of giving a half-assed response to the timeworn question, I plan to make a splash that will drench every attendee with every color of the rainbow.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to be gay.
The reasons that I’m most thankful to be an ardent homosexual go beyond politics. Sure, it’s important to fight against the norm, especially in a political climate that once again aims to revoke all the progress LGBT citizens have made. But I’m even more thankful to be gay because I, for one, would not like to be a straight man in 2017. Or straight in general. Straight culture has ruined my life. The “straights” were responsible for Donald Trump’s presidential victory at the end of last year. They’re also responsible for the increase in homophobia I’ve experienced in the last 12 months since his victory. So what better way to spread the gay agenda than with a turkey baster?
All jokes aside, this is also the first year that I feel completely comfortable with myself. It’s been a struggle to finally get to this point. Though my family has made great strides in accepting my sexuality, it’s been a challenge to shake off shame I’ve internalized for so long. When I came out 10 years ago (damn, has it really been that long?), I was immediately rejected by my family. I was fortunate to not have been put on the street as a result, but the prejudice I endured from them, from microaggressions to blatant discrimination, made me miserable. It took years of therapy for my parents to finally come around and accept who I am, but a lot of these ill feelings still weigh heavily on me today.
Likewise, I endured a lot of therapy to overcome the my past. And though talking to a therapist has helped, I can’t say I’m fully recovered yet. Maybe one never really recovers from such harsh criticism — however, I have gotten better about managing my anger. I try not to fester on what happened in my life years ago.
My family now does its best to embrace my lifestyle, and that’s that only thing I can ask for. Even though Trump’s presidential win could give my extended family yet another platform to promote discriminatory ideals, interestingly enough, it’s been the opposite. I’ve felt an overwhelming amount of support from extended uncles, aunts and cousins. Many of them have met my boyfriend, Matthew, and have come to welcome him more graciously than I could ever imagine. I used to think that everyone was inherently homophobic until proven otherwise. Now, I’m starting to think it is the opposite.
If only I could tell my 15-year-old self that, in due time, everything would be OK. That the ones who were oppressing you in the moment would come to acknowledge their faults and alter their ways of thinking.
Though I tend to mask important issues with a fog of humor, I am serious when I stress I am thankful to be gay. In fact, I feel blessed. I wouldn’t wish oppression on anybody, but I wouldn’t have turned out the way I am had it not been for these formative years of struggle and pain. The hard times aren’t over though. I’m positive there will be more hardships to come in the future, but I feel ready to tackle whatever comes my way.
Arya Roshanian is a “senior” majoring in music. His column, “From The Top,” runs Tuesdays.
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