I've been thinking about this a lot lately, maybe because of the discussions I keep hearing and seeing on Facebook about the election in the US. What gives a person the ability to be a free thinker? I know myself well enough to know that if I never had to deal with being gay, I would never have done the work to open my mind. I would have taken the easy route like most people and simply accept what I was taught. Lets face it, it's easier not to question a belief system and just go with it. In psychology it's called cognitive dissonance, when a person holds contradictory beliefs and it causes psychological stress. When this happens people do everything in their power to make them consistent. That describes my youth pretty well. They say nine times out of ten a person will retain their way of thinking with a belief system rather than change reality, because that's the easier way to go. It's easier to stay with what you know I guess.
So how was it I was able to come out to myself with my conservative upbringing? Like most LGBTQ+ people I could fill a book on that subject, but for the moment let's just say I had to for the sake of self preservation. I could live in the closet with my old belief system or come out and be happy. Believe me I lived through the nine times out of ten reasoning over and over. But I was lucky enough to survive and thrive in the long run, I knew the only way I could live my best life was being true to myself.
Being gay caused cognitive dissonance with my old belief system, but was not something I could change, therefore I had to think for myself. I could no longer retain my early way of thinking. This was a life lesson that opened the door to free thinking and makes me very aware of the struggles of others. I would no longer look at anyone else with my own belief system. I've always been sensitive to other people's feelings and energy, but now I've developed the super human ability of empathy.
I honestly believe it's a gift that comes from my journey as a gay man.
Today, I can honestly say I would have hated to live a close minded life. Further, I think I'm a better person having empathy. Being gay is the best gift I've ever received.