I’m a Hypocrite

I%27m+a+Hypocrite

I am a hypocrite.

 

I am a big fat stupid hypocrite. And not in an inconsequential way. I have deliberately put myself in harm’s way for the past four years of my life. I act against my own self-interest. I make it a point to never compromise who I am just to be more palatable to someone else, but I find myself doing that every summer.

 

Confronting compulsory heterosexuality and figuring out I was a lesbian changed me fully and completely. Full acceptance of my sexuality as it truly was and not how I felt obligated to be had been such an instrumental step in learning to love myself and meant changing a lot about who I was. Which is what makes coming back to camp this summer so hard.

 

My staff contract lays out some pretty basic and reasonable ground rules. No illegal substances, pay attention to the campers, be a loyal follower of Christ. It’s pretty jarring when you reach the paragraph on what being a good Follower of Christ entails. It opens so innocently; act through the Holy Spirit, be a person of integrity, “uphold the God-given worth of every human being.” Then, right at the bottom, when you’re least expecting it, under strongly discouraged acts of immorality: homosexual behavior.

 

My friends and I have a kind of secret society of Gays At Christian Girls Camp. Once you come out to one, you’ve come out to them all, and you share the unique experience of pretending you don’t like girls when about a third of your cabin would all of a sudden start feeling really uncomfortable around shower time if you told them you did. 

 

You take those behemoths of secrets and you safeguard them until a gay in question inevitably takes their permanent leave of absence from camp, effectively stamping out any power a whisper through camp about why they talk about that one actress so much could bear. You bid them a fond farewell, anxiously awaiting their coming out post and wishing that it was you.

 

And you come back for these people. I have never held a stronger bond with anyone as I have with these other teenage girls who know what it’s like to love a place so much and know it’s stupid to expect the same kind of love in return. A place that would show you the door and encourage you to not let it hit you on the way out once you told them one thing about yourself that made you different from the ten bottle blondes you’ve shared a room with for the past three weeks.

 

You all feel the same betrayal. You all balance on the head of a pin, hoping that you didn’t make that questionably homosexual remark at the wrong person, building up a database on who’s cool with it and who to avoid divulging the more intimate secrets to, even sharing your predictions on who you think may be next to join your top-secret rank. But when you balance on the head of a pin, it’s not all that difficult to fall off. Stakes are high, and if you don’t hold on for dear life, that’s when your layer of secrecy, created for your own protection to avoid the sheer horror of becoming the social pariah who “looked at me weird on the dock the other day…do you think she’s into me?” begins to show its weaknesses.

 

Every summer I hear stories of girls a few years younger than me exploring what attraction means to them and being outed for it. Sent to talk to the director, who prays that they find ‘God’s true plan for them’, instantly becoming alien to their peers, and sending themselves further back into a closet they barely even knew they were in.

 

But that’s what happened to me.

 

I could talk about how my life changed after that, how as I slowly came out to other people that I made sure I fully trusted, I heard “Wait, that’s true? Someone mentioned some rumor about that a few years ago!” more and more, but recently I’ve been thinking more about the consequences of healing. It took me years to fully accept myself again, and when I was honest with myself about being lesbian–not bisexual–I became less apologetic about who I was. Because I had spent so many years exhausted, compromising who I was so I could please the largest audience, be the most palatable version of myself, I made a promise to never do it again. I am who I am and I swore to never give someone from some garbage state like Florida, or Ohio, or, hell, North Carolina, the power to make me want to change a fundamental part of my being. It was important to me. I will not compromise myself just so the World’s Blandest Christian Girls might like me more.

 

But here we are, nine months after receiving an email from our director confirming my spot as a CIT this summer, after turning these thoughts in my head over and over again. I’m a hypocrite.

 

I am compromising myself. I am trying to fold up this secret that only takes up more precious real estate as I get older back into the impossibly tiny box it used to fit in, in the closet where it sat for sixteen years collecting dust because I was too afraid to touch it. I don’t want to, but it feels like the only option. And I wonder if I’ve reached the point of no return. Have I told enough people to make it common knowledge? Are my name and nonexistent sexual history the topic of discussion when I’m not there to hear it? And what would I do if someone asked me about it? Deny? It’s not like I have another choice. Any other response implies guilt. And I am guilty. 

 

Maybe I’m overthinking this. But I don’t like the fact that I might not be. And the thing about not giving a shit what half the people I go to camp with think is that I am blissfully unaware of their feelings towards me. How many mouths has my name been in, and when is it gonna catch up with me?

 

I’m holding out hope that it doesn’t happen before I make the choice to publicize this information myself, this secret that’s been used against me for years.

 

But I resent that it has to come down to that! Just to hang out with a bunch of gay people, I have to hide the fact that I’m gay? And I could lose my stupid, unpaid job because of it? It is so hard to love this place or appreciate the things it has done for me when I am so mad at it all the time, blinded by my resentment and deep need for it to do better, and the inevitable disappointment I feel when I know that it just won’t.

 

I’ve asked myself this question for a long time: How can I love a place so much that I know doesn’t want me, and keep shoving money into their pockets year after year? It’s for certain activities that I particularly enjoy, the people I’ve involuntarily entered a secret society with, it’s to bond over how we’re all in this same horrible boat. This is the only guaranteed opportunity to see each other that we get all year. So we go, endure the mild homophobia from some of our more evangelical cabinmates, complain about the guilt we feel giving these people our money, rinse, repeat.

 

But then comes CIT year, and all of a sudden the stakes are so much higher. If I come out publicly, something I’ve been dying to do for years, I’ll lose my job. Not only is this job good for college applications, but this is the last chance I have to see almost all of these people in the same place that brought us together. Ever. So I go, and this time I don’t know what’ll happen once I get there, but I know that if someone outside of our safety net finds out, a punishment worse than a prayer circle and life as a social outcast for the rest of the summer awaits me.

 

I’ve made promises to come out and broken them before. Every summer I tell myself that by the end of the session I’ll post something announcing my adoration of women to the world. And I’ve reneged on that promise before. It’s been for my own safety, because I know what would happen if I was out at this place, but I’m tired of compromising myself for the opinions of people I don’t respect. I’m scared I’ll renege on that promise again. So much of my exhausting climb to self-acceptance is pledging to unapologetic me-ness, and coming back to camp feels like three steps in the wrong direction.

 

I don’t want to have to do this anymore. It’s exhausting, and I hate that I have the choice to stop doing this to myself but do it anyway. I’m counting down the minutes until the day I can say that I love women with my whole chest, no consequences. Until then, I’m still a hypocrite.