January 26, 2011


Rafa, age 5
Madrid, Spain (1974)

I chose this pic of me at a beach near Valencia (where my family vacationed), because I can look into my eyes and feel the huge barrier I built up in my inner world, and one I thought I was supposed to show to everyone else. It’s not a very natural expression, and one that no small child should be showing on his face.

I remember the ever-present idea of loneliness that seemed to have no end in sight. Knowing I was different - and aware that nobody would approve of what I was feeling - always made me feel alone. And I felt a false certainty that things would remain that way forever.

I can’t claim to have been only incredibly unhappy, because my family loved me and I had a few friends. But as my birthdays went by, the burden of hiding what I felt lead me to feel constantly misunderstood. As a result, I often sought out my own personal place, where I could just be alone and not have to pretend in front of anybody. That’s why I always read or drew or played by myself.

When I was 4 or 5, I was already aware of the fact that I was attracted to men, something "very bad" that I couldn't talk about. I remember watching TV shows like Little House On The Prairie and feeling drawn to the actors, but not to the actresses. And I remember suffering, because I would force myself to not look at other boys. I never tried to do anything with girls at all, but I did force myself to be basically sexless and never give in to my impulses. That turned me into quite an introverted person, as well as a rather unhappy one.

For the gay kids of today feeling different, I say - don’t hide it, no matter how old you are. I know it’s hard and you’ll go through some rough times. But none of that compares to having your childhood and teenage years taken away from you.

Don’t let those years just go up into smoke. Live them for yourself, because the people who truly love you will stay by your side. And though they may have a hard time at first, they will support you in the end.

Love yourself above all else.

PS: I'm married and happy, and out of the closet for 20 years now

Rafa's first, famous-person same sex crushes:
Marc Singer ("The Beastmaster") & Maxwell Caulfield ("Grease 2")
The Beastmaster Grease 2 [VHS] Queer Transitions in Contemporary Spanish Culture: From Franco to La Movida


Calliope said...

Soy chica y me gustan los hombres, pero algunos muy buenos amigos míos son gays. Espero que tus ojos ya no estén tristes. Un abrazo desde Málaga

Anonymous said...

Calliope, no lo están, hace muchos años que vivo la realidad. Gracias por tu comentario y un beso. Rafa

Anonymous said...

I felt I was reading my own story. I already lost my childhood and teenage years, now I'm in my early twenties (almost 25), and I still feel that loneliness. How did you manage to get out of it?

Anonymous said...

I grew courage by feeding with love and support from friends first, then family, then work.

Anonymous said...

Es un poco la historia de todos. Yo nacido en el 61, y no en Madrid sino en un pueblecito de Andalucia. No recuerdo tristeza, y siempre me senti querido, pero si que dejé vivencias y sensacion de libertad en el camino. Sobre todo la libertad de ser yo y vivir mis amores de adolescencia de forma abierta, la obligatoriedad de fingir. Bueno, miro la parte positiva, y afortunadamente al menos hoy existen referentes publicos para los niños y adolescentes. Gracias por tu relato Rafa.

Lenny said...

I can't tell you ho much I identify with this story. I felt the exact same way.

SCottieB said...

Excellent post! A stark reflection of my own experience. For many of us, life's vital energy was directed towards maintaining that facade and burying who we truly were. Your words and thoughts are my own. Your photo is truly haunting and speaks even more to the burden we carried. Continued happiness to you and peace for us all!

Kathryn Thomas said...

How sad, what a waste. I'm so glad that you've found your path, but I'm sorry you had to lose so many important years in the process.

Anonymous said...

Al leer tu historia, me ha dado la sensación de estar leyendo la mía propia... hace poco más de un año que salí del armario (tengo 20 años) y desde entonces mi vida ha cambiado mucho, mucho (para bien) pero no puedo dejar de lamentarme por haber echado por la borda toda mi adolescencia... 19 años de mi vida perdidos! como tú dices, creé una barrera entre mí y el mundo, me obligaba a mí mismo a no pensar en chicos e incluso intenté "volverme hetero" saliendo con chicas. Pero llegó un punto en que exploté y le eché narices. Tantos años de auto-represión (que venía provocada por ideas inculcadas por otros, claro está...) me han hecho una persona bastante introvertida, incluso demasiado, pero sé que en año y pico no se puede cambiar al 100% una personalidad (mal?)formada durante 19 años, por lo que sigo intentando superarme. Si en poco más de un año he conseguido ser 1000 veces más feliz, mirar hacia el futuro me llena de esperanza! Gracias por compartir tu historia.

Wm. said...

Like others, your words reflect my own experience.
Thanks for the inspiration, Rafa.