Today's guest post comes from Gregory Gerard, the author of IN JUPITER'S SHADOW, a memoir/mystery chronicling a religious teen's struggle with forbidden attraction. More information about the IN JUPITER'S SHADOW can be found at the end of this post.
I was recently listening to an episode of The CBS Radio Mystery Theater on my mp3 player and a phrase from the script, ‘murder and love will out,’ got me thinking.
I know, I know, such shows should be listened to on an AM car radio driving down a foggy highway, not on an mp3 player. For those of you born after 1989, The CBS Radio Mystery Theater was a radio program created in the ‘70s and ‘80s to capture the spirit of those great old radio shows from the 1930s…pre-Internet…pre-TV. Being a kid in the early ‘80s who loved mystery, I would hole up in my teenage fort (Headquarters) at 10 p.m. each night, alone with my Emerson AM radio, listening to the one-hour broadcast, complete with creaky doors and murderous plots. Loved it.
Flash-forward to 2010. I got mp3 files of the complete series and listen to them regularly. (If you'd like to hear for yourself, I stream free downloads of my favorite episodes at In Jupiter's Shadow, my book's website store).
Recently listening to an episode titled "Murder Will Out," (it's about a detective who solves the mystery of who murdered his dad – and discovers love along the journey), I started thinking about this topic of mystery and sexuality and out-ness.
In my teenage years, sexuality was a great mystery (that's why I wrote a coming out memoir as a 'memoir/mystery'). By age 13, I'd learned (from family, movies, church, school) that boys were supposed to be attracted to girls. And visa versa. The mystery in my life was that I didn’t think about Wonder Woman when I was in the bathtub ... I thought about Superman.
That mystery bred research, and the research bred a struggle. (Being a religious kid, you can guess at the 'clues' I uncovered!). I went through a long, painful, private battle that I don’t wish on anyone.
For those who haven't been there, I invite you to think about your first crush. Maybe back in seventh or eighth grade grammar school. Maybe somebody named Greg or Marsha (yes, I'm from the Brady Bunch generation!).
Remember the fuzzy, gushy feelings of warmth and excitement you had in your room alone at night, thinking about seeing that person at school? Talking to them at their locker? Sitting next to them in gym? Now - here's the challenge - try to imagine, at that age, someone pulling you aside: your mom and dad, or your cousins, or your teacher, or your pastor, or Hollywood, and told you that your fuzzy, gushy feelings were wrong. In fact, they were an abomination to God and you should never, ever act on them. Feeling any angst yet? I sure did.
But here's humanity's saving grace - mysteries fascinate us. We encounter them and we’re curious and we hang on, working for a solution. There were times when I thought about giving up – marrying a girl, living the life that everybody else expected of me – but the curiosity kept me going. The gnawing certainty that something was lurking unexpressed inside my heart.
Ultimately, I figured it out (I was a guy attracted to guys because I was gay. Oh, now I get it!). A wonderful thing to realize about yourself.
Today, I work with GLBT youth and I hear that the struggle continues. Kids may be solving this mystery of sexuality at an earlier age than I did – but that doesn’t exempt them from other mysteries – how will I find a partner in a homophobic world? How do I cope with the awful things people sometimes say and do when they figure out I don’t fit their idea of what love should be? Where in this beautiful life do I belong?
Adding to this struggle are prejudices that continue to come from mainstream religion. As an example, the U.S. Catholic bishops recently decried the rise of same-sex marriage as 'one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture.' In their words, same-gender unions 'redefine the nature of marriage and the family and, as a result harm both the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good of society'."
When the Church, or elected officials, or teachers, or anybody suggest that that gay people are 'less' in some ways; when bigotry or misinformation rob faithful gay kids of the hope of a committed, blessed relationship – to me, THAT is one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture." (Read this author's response to the U.S. Bishops: Memoir Author Urges Bishops to Consider GLBT Testimony).
For what it’s worth: my advice to those who struggle today – keep searching for the answers to life’s mysteries. It's the search itself that has merit; it’s the search itself that can define us. As an individual, as a GLBT community, as a people. When we don’t give up – when we tenaciously seek the truth like a detective on a case with minds and hearts open – that’s when answers come.
And, just like love, mystery will out.
IN JUPITER'S SHADOW (a memoir/mystery)
Hiding from others is easy.
Hiding from yourself is trickier.
Born in 1966 in rural Western New York – the last of six children in a
devout Catholic family – Greg Gerard dreams of escape and adventure. He's
different from his older siblings; he is "The Caboose." When mom makes
fudge, he's the one who gets to scrape the bowl. While his older brothers
and sisters go to public school, he attends Saint Michael's – where a
friendly nun with sturdy shoes and a ubiquitous guitar remind him of his
favorite movie, The Sound of Music. At night, he sleeps with boards under
his sheets – so he, too, can be as holy as the Saints he reads about.
Mystery surrounds Greg. At church, the priest dips his head, whispering
indistinguishable prayers. At home, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and his
favorite detective, Jupiter Jones from The Three Investigators, provide an
endless supply of adventure and intrigue. He devours their stories, mimics
their behaviors, and dreams of the day when he too can solve a real-life
At thirteen, Greg's own mystery presents itself in the most unlikely place –
the steamy bathtub on the second floor. He discovers sexuality – and senses
that it's unusual for a boy to think about Superman while doing so.
For more information, please visit www.JupitersShadow.com.