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Big Rainbow Elephant Moment

By Steven RicePublished 6 months ago Updated 5 months ago 6 min read

The following is a snippet of a major chapter in my memoir that I have been working on for years. It is my life story(ies), but with a Wizard of Oz twist:

When I was younger, I had an immense fear of clowns. Most people do. My fear stemmed from two things. Reason one, I view clowns as creepy adults who try to get kids to laugh/smile with balloons and face paint. Secondly, watching Stephen King's IT as a child helped drive home the clown fear. Today, I watched the movie in awe of Tim Curry's performance. I never faced this fear head-on. I just avoided clowns. However, the opportunity arose in college to participate in the annual "Fright Night" event (which was our low-budget version of a haunted house attraction). My good Judy (the one who is a feminist and cleared space for wedding photos) was the event organizer. The theme happened to be a circus theme and would take place at night on a walking trail on campus, in the woods. Of course, I wanted to be a main character. After intense negotiation ensued (promising to use a British accent in my role), I secured a role as one of the ring leaders. Our task as ring leaders was to lead students into the woods. It started with little jump scares at the start with a fortune teller and some of the ladies who were dance majors bending in all types of positions like a fucking pretzel.

Toward the end of the trail, the ring leader (me) would hear a noise and investigate in a Scooby-Doo style. Then, a clown would attack me and drag me away as I screamed for the group to go on without me. Enter the chaos of tons of football players dressed as clowns chasing the group of the woods. Naturally, the ring leaders had to experience the haunted trail so we knew when the spooky shit would happen. I put on my best brave face. Much like when Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Dorothy huddled into the haunted forest, the group of girls and I did the same. When it was time to run through the clowns, I realized I was totally over my fear of clowns. Was it growth or the fact that I knew that underneath the wigs and makeup were hunky football players? I'll go with both as they are both solid reasons.

That night showed me several things. It provided me with a battle wound from taking a plastic machete to the face. More importantly, I received compliments from some heteros on my brave choice to enter an abandoned shack to hide from the group. However, the biggest win from that night was realizing that I had gotten over my fear of clowns! That is how I view how fears function. You work yourself up and can let the fear hold you back. Yet, you can conquer anything that stands in your way. Yes, this is easier said than done, but if a little gay boy can run in the woods with some football players dressed like clowns and not fear for his life, you can manage your fears!

Let's talk about the big rainbow elephant in the room. I am gay. As I typed those words, I had no fear or worry about putting that sentiment into the universe. But it was not always that way for me. Growing up, being gay was a sin. The message taught to you was that you would be damned to Hell if you were anything but heterosexual, ew. So, I was trying my best to avoid that. Truthfully, I always knew I was gay. Young boys would gawk at Britney Spears (#FREEBRITNEYALWAYS) over her looks, and closeted me would recreate her iconic performances. Pipe cleaners bend easily to create a substantial microphone headset. I was attracted to boys but tried to hide this. Although, poor baby nugget Steven did not hide things well.

I was very much on the feminine side. I tried my best to push it off and hope that my peers would just think I was just weird, but bitch, I was gay. Still, I went hard at trying to deflect my homosexual ways. I tried to wear "straight" clothes, even sporting camouflage and John Deer clothing. Now, I feel free to wear all the colors and unique things young Steven couldn't risk wearing. I would cry and pray, asking God to make me not gay. I went so far as one time posing a trade. "Give me an illness, just not liking boys." It fucks queer children up when the message given is that who they are is wrong and a bad thing. I am grateful for growth and therapy. I kept my secret until age nineteen, even if playing truth or dare led to kissing boys or blow jobs (you know who you are, tell your wife I said hi). I was so tired of wishing that one day, by magic, a page from The Bible would appear and say that being gay was okay. Sadly, that was not happening, so it was eating at me. I wanted to be my true self.

So, I focused my time and energy on the summer after high school (yes, another Katy Perry reference). A key event was the summer trip I mentioned in Chapter 5. Besides having Katy Perry on blast and going out with friends, the summer of 2011 was when I started to accept who I was. My grandfather was building a restaurant near Tampa, Florida, and granny, my little brother, and I went to stay with him for a week or so.

It was so pretty. I was able to see more of the world. Being poor set my standards for travel low. This was not a fancy Italy trip that gave me insight into different cultures. This was a step out of my backyard. Growing up in small towns for my whole life sheltered me. I had a fear that the only option was for me to live in a small town forever. This trip helped shatter that fear. There were glimpses into what else the world has to offer. Thinking about my mom brought on the thought that life is short. I didn't want to hide myself anymore.

I felt it heavy in my heart, but I was not ready to come to terms 100% yet. I had a rockstar of a girlfriend. I knew I loved her, but I also knew I loved guys. I texted all my friends to tell them that I thought I was bisexual. They were all super accepting. It was as if Glinda cast a love spell over them. One best friend even said, "That's hot." She came out later in life, too. I held off on telling two close friends, including my guy best friend. My girlfriend was a champ and told me she didn't care, just as long as I wanted to continue to be with her. I remember crying and feeling loved by the supportive texts I was getting. I knew that it would take some time to tell my grandparents though.

I eventually told my male best friend. I was afraid he would be creeped out. He was cool about it. He still slept over the same night I told him. I still postponed telling my other friend. I wasn't ready yet. When I inevitably talked to that friend, we both cried. She was a tad upset that I felt I could not tell her before. It was a strenuous and confusing time, but I was relieved that I finally got it off my chest.

Then a guy came along. I thought he was super cute and he was out. Shit happened. We ended up cuddling. There will be more on this encounter later in this chapter. I am pretty sure he was expecting to have sex, but I still had a girlfriend. Plus, I was not ready for all that, if you know what I mean. I felt so bad and confused. I confessed to her and she was forgiving. I was lucky that she was understanding.

Things seemed to be going well, but I still felt uneasy about one thing. I felt like I liked boys more than I was letting on. A part of me perceived that if I was attracted to BOTH men and women, then I still got to keep half of my "man card." I told myself that people would not be so weird about it because I was so loving that I would swing both ways. However, gay is gay, and girl I was gay.

I have embraced my queerness and found the courage (just like Lion) to be myself inside and out. Yes, it took some time, but I still am so proud to be who I am as a gay man. Fearless and fierce are the only "f" words I would use to describe myself now.


I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my life. It would mean so much if you subscribed to my Vocal Media profile. You can also follow my journey on Instagram. Again, thank you so much, stay safe!


About the Creator

Steven Rice

Growing up I had many visions of what I wanted to be when I grew up. At times I was relentless on becoming a Power Ranger or a writer. After thirty years, the path that seems most obtainable is becoming a writer.

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