A National Coming Out Day love story
National Coming Out Day! I think I’ll talk about a couple of the guys in my life.
I really want to talk about Lil Nas X; I adore him. Listen, the guy is hot, let’s be real. But even with clothes on he’s my newest hero, the person I wish I was when I was a teenager and someone I couldn’t ever imagine would exist in my lifetime. His many fun, playful ear worms are irresistable, and I love that he’s gay and ridiculously putting it out there. And beyond that, when you listen to him in interviews, he’s honest and somehow innocent, just following his own authenticity to greatness. Yes, I’m enjoying this opportunity to come out by expressing my love for LNX.
What got me on to this? I was reading an article about him a few weeks ago, how he’s upending the rap world with his unapologetic fully-expressed gay sexuality, and they gave a shout out to the impact he was having on young black men who needed a new role model, helping them find their own voice and courage for self-expression.
That unapologetic voice, I used to really appreciate that about my husband as well, and especially when he got sick. Throughout his life, my husband was always a goof in the most endearing way. He went for the things he wanted in silly, sometimes radical ways. Then, as his condition evolved, his limitations became more and more extreme. He had to be hooked up to all sorts of machines to breathe and other stuff; a modern cyborg, covered with tubes coming out of his head and neck, other places. His face and body became slack, swollen and misshapen from the lack of muscle tone. But he still went out into the world. He went to concerts, parties, public events. He went for daily “walks” in his wheelchair and saw friends every day. He lived as his authentic self, and the world frankly responded with respect and adoration. It was deserved.
Early in his ALS journey, he found a little sign somewhere, one of those inspirational quotes and it simply said “crazy just might work.” Sometime after he died, I redecorated and one of the first things I found a place for was that little sign. In some ways, I consider that message to be the best of him.
I’m a doctor, a psychiatrist, so people come to see me when they’re feeling sick, unwell. They tell me they’re not functioning, their lives aren’t working out, they’re lost or stuck. And I think of that sign in my house.
Crazy just might work. It’s sometimes confusing to people when I represent this idea, at least when they’re first getting to know me, but I’m a big advocate of living into our crazy. Most people are trying to get away from their crazy, contain it, cover it up. I get that; sometimes it’s hurting us and those around us. I respect that, and I understand we have to do something about it. My experience with a lot of people though is that we have to shape it, to funnel it and create out of it. Our inner crazy is often just our unformed crazy; it’s looking for a way to be in the world, it wants to live somehow but doesn’t know how to be. It doesn’t know how to be powerful. It doesn’t know how to be loved. It’s asking for help, for patience, for compassion, for listening. For an opportunity. Sometimes it’s desperate.
Maybe it seems weird for a psychiatrist to be an advocate for living into our inner crazy, but I hope that one day it will be the norm. I’m gay, remember? My history, and the history of my people can only be written through the lens of honest self-expression. How we’ve grown, and what we’ve created through the turbulent expression of unacceptable complexity is a source of great pride for me. And in general, it can be said that each human’s inner crazy is the source of all progress in the world, all transformations, all acts of extreme courage. To become the best of ourselves, we have to be a little crazy. That complexity within us is not perfect and it’s not always good; sometimes it’s terrible. But very often it’s not; it’s just confused and lonely.
I’m surprised the music industry is supporting LNX, but it’s a good example. The right person in the right place at the right time to act courageously creative. You think he was welcomed with open arms? Have you listened to the lyrics for Industry Baby?
And anyway, he didn’t emerge out of nowhere. Queen Latifah, Frank Ocean, Janelle Monae, Adam Lambert, Mylie Cyrus, Mika, Sam Smith, Troye Sivan, Todrick Hall and a whole bunch of the older guys all got Fergalicious while LNX was still Montero Lamar Hill. Who?!?! Exactly. Each one got their freak on, the next guy moved up the ladder, and here we are.
Every crack in the pavement is an opportunity for new life to sprout. Then risk, trial and error, perseverance and pivoting and Shablam! Sometimes the world isn’t ready for the crazy in us, but the world is large and our lives are long. To become our best selves we have to take our entire selves with us and find a place for each part. When we’re living that way, we have truly great moments among all the uncertainty, our lives literally shine, and the world grows bigger.
I’m grateful to LNX for inspiring me to continue on a path that is truthful, authentic and honest. He’s a role model for a future way of being and a modern day icon for our daily choices, a new way to be seen and heard. I’m grateful to my husband for teaching me how to express beauty even when you can’t speak or move any part of your body and people are afraid to look at you. So my Coming Out Story today is indeed a story about love: for these guys, for my crazy self and for my future crazy self. I hope I’ll have the guts to share him with the world one day…