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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To Be Looked At Differently

This is my way of coming out to those I know. Many of you already knew, heard rumors, heard through facebook, but now here it is from the horse's mouth. I am gay.

Big woop, now on to the important stuff. So even before the accident I felt like an outsider looking in. I tried my entire life not to be noticed, to fit in, to be somewhere in the middle of everyone. So much so that life took me completely by surprise when I suddenly became the focus of everyone's attention. After a lifetime of trying to blend in this was hell.

A friend of mine I met in rehab was in a chair and thankfully went on to get full use of his legs back. He told me that he was looked at differently in each stage of his recovery. Before he was unnoticed. While he was in the chair he was looked at with pity, looked down upon. When he moved on to the leg brace he was looked at with sympathy but with less judgment that he was helpless.

It still drives me nuts sometimes how I'm never out of people's attention, my own mini spotlight. When I'm not in my chair I'm using my leg brace which makes a loudish groaning noise every step. Kids stare especially, since they haven't learned society's way of staring, averting eyes, stare, avert eyes... it's more direct and allows me to address the issue much more easily. Sometimes I just want to want to scream to scream at people "yes I'm in a chair/using a leg brace. Take a picture it'll last longer." But I was raised to be polite so I try and be nice. As I was coming out of the locker room today in my wheelchair going to the pool, a little kid asked me "why are you in a wheelchair?" within 2 seconds of seeing me. This way I can at least get the issue off the table immediately and don't have to worry about the pressure to be awkwardly polite.

I feel I have an obligation, to myself and to those around me. I secretly wished someone out there would out me, force me to be honest with myself and those around me. But I have to take on some courage and do this myself. Since I'm in the spotlight already, I can show people that it's okay to be different, it's okay to walk in the light. I was terrified that I would have to stand up and be honest but now people can know that there is life after an accident, life after the closet. Now the statistic I've heard so often stated is that 1 in 10 men are gay. Now if that is true there are more people in the closet than most people can imagine; they should have someone to look out to and see a world where it is okay to be different.


  1. Hi Peter,
    You've been thru much, and being in a chair is just part of the "experience." Look forward to meeting you towards the end of the month here in Baltimore. I've had a lot of friends and co-workers deal with being gay and wondering what/how to work thru the honesty issue. Let alone the frustration of a body that doesn't obey your commands anymore. Kids btw are my favorite: they always say whatever is on their mind and it's refreshing to be able to tell them the truth. Which is always much easier in the long run.


  2. You are you, Peter. Those of us who know you don't care so much about the rest. But I can only imagine this is supremely frustrating. Keep wheeling and walking, that's all you can do.

  3. I think everybody feels this way at some point in than life, you just simply have to find away to deal with it. Right now I am leaving in Japan and get stared all the time because I am not Japanese. Some days I break down and stare right back which makes them feel completely uncomfortable and is rude on my part. But usually I just smile and wave. I take it upon myself to educate them that not all foreigners are scary, or strange. Maybe you can help edu. those that stare at you too.

    And YEAH! from hearing it from your own mouth. :)

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  5. Hey, what a great read. I walk with a cane and a limp and know that spotlight you speak of. I don't know whether it's other peoples pity that forces them to look or stare or a deep seeded fear about their own abilities or losing them. Power to you for coming out. We all need to walk with our heads held high with pride for being true to ourselves and facing life with truth, honesty about our sexuality for our own sake. It makes me proud to be a Gay man with a disability knowing others face the same ignorance and intolerance, sometimes indifference which is equally as insulting and yet they strive to make their part of the world one of honesty and pride. Its people such as yourself who encourage others in similar situations to feel not quite as alone or unique. Strip it all back and we are all the same on the inside. People who seek love and acceptance but most of all inclusion. Thank you for posting your story.