by: Timothy Lalowski
My name is Timothy Elliot Lalowski. I am gay.
I was raised Roman Catholic in a very strict household. I remember going to Sunday School to discuss homosexuality as a sin. I remember explaining to people that it was a sin. I remember actively preaching that it was a sin to people in my community. But more than anything, I remember that word: SIN.
That kind of upbringing makes it very difficult for me for any gay kid to deal the inevitable: my first crush. We were in band together in the 7th grade. I was a flute player, and he was an oboist, seated directly across from me. I was drawn to him immediately and stared over at him endlessly, but in my head, he wasn’t a he. That took time, time for me to realize what was considered “wrong” with this picture.
When the realization of what was happening would hit me, I would stop playing my flute and just sit there, the world falling away around me. I was alone, left in the company of just that word, that one little, three-lettered word.
I wanted to know: Would God ever forgive me? I prayed and prayed for salvation, begging God, as tears rolled down my cheeks, to rid me of this evil.
Coming out to myself was the most difficult part of my life. Coming out to myself took years and years of denial, depression, pain and distress. Because of this struggle, I stopped eating. I replaced eating with cutting, to punish myself for the thoughts I could not run from.
Each day after school, I locked myself in my room to tried to occupy my mind with anything else. I stuck my nose in a book. I practiced my flute for hours on end. I studied and studied, dedicated myself to my education. I wrote and I drew and I painted — anything to keep my mind off of boys.
However, the end of the night always ended with glass pressed against my calf, offering my pain in hopes that it would change those thoughts. I thought that fasting would demonstrate my commitment, but this devotion only turned into a battle with anorexia and more pain.
You get to a point in every impossible task where you finally give up, where your body and mind cave under the weight of everything. After three long years of self loathing, of suffering, of contemplating daily the worst thoughts, I reached my point at the end of my freshman year of high school. My mind had been so tormented, my values so questioned, my reality so distorted, my life so contorted, that all of my rage and self-doubt just faded into acceptance.
Coming out was hard, but I started small, with three friends at music camp. If they didn’t accept me, I was safe to just leave after the week was over and never think about it again. I was lucky; they already knew.
Later, when I would transfer to a new school, a new start, someone asked me on my very first if I was gay. I told them yes. From that point on, I was the labeled “the gay kid,” and nobody seemed bothered by me. In fact, as the year progressed, I saw other kids around me come out, kids that had before been too afraid to speak up.
Sure, I still battled with depression. With all the years those habits had been hammered into my brain, the ways I was taught to hate myself, it was inevitable, but I was out. The more I was accepted by my peers, the happier I became and I was able to banish those thoughts from my mind.
The day I vowed never to cut again I carved “Love” in large letters into my calf. It is a constant call to love, a reminder to love others but to, most importantly, love myself. Only love can save us from the evils of the world, and I vow to always love and to never hate. I vow to support anyone who needs my heart, because I love.
So I tell you, it does get better. I am loving; I am love. I am a ball of joy. I have aspirations. I have hope for a bright future. I have hope.
It really does get so much better.
Timothy Elliot Lalowski is a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he studies Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering with a minor in Architecture. Timothy is a founder of ItGetsMoreGay.tumblr.com, a G focused LGBTQ help blog. Timothy has also recently founded New Velocity, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Performance Dance Troupe and serves as president and major choreographer. Interested in the Social Progressive Movement, Timothy continues to work towards his goal of founding the Progressive Design and Engineering Movements.