When Fear Takes Over - A Queer Perspective
Welcome to the End of the World
Sunday was a weird day. Death of Kobe Bryant. Coronavirus spreading. Trump impeachment news. Protests all across the world. Seemingly worse and worse natural disasters all across the world. And it’s only the end of January.
“What the fuck is happening?” The only question that continued to invade my thoughts as the day went on. Everything just seemed so unreal. The conclusion that I landed on irrationally was simple: The world is ending. It's all going to shit and we are only at the beginning of 2020.
My worries about the world were caused by the media I was consuming. Sensationalist mainstream news showed me all the things going wrong in the world. I would then further punish myself by giving a good scroll through Reddit.
I was Chicken Little. Then I realized I had to get back to work, serving waffles and pizza to customers who were looking to enjoy their Sunday Brunch. My worries and concerns were outside of my control. I had to continue with my day, because life moves on. I mean the restaurant I work at wasn't up in flames, nor was it under quarantine for potential Coronavirus outbreak. I knew I was safe. But my body and mind made me feel like the world was ending.
Taking a look at any major news site or channel results in the feeling of impending doom. And then that existential dread and anxiety starts to sweep over you. You know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s an emptiness that you feel in your bones. The uneasiness. Because you know that there’s nothing you can do about it; not really anyway.
So, what do you do? What can you do, when fear takes over?
You continue, that’s what you do. Because life isn’t over until the moment you stop breathing. As I’m writing this, there is a quote I remember seeing somewhere that has magically popped into my head, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Which after a quick Bing search (yes, that's right not Google) is a line from a poem by Dylan Thomas, which if you're interested in the poem go check it out.
Looking at it now, it really resonates with me.
For me at this moment, it means finding the light, and not letting the darkness of the world (fear) stop you from living. So, when you see the "dying of the light," rage against it by finding those little moments of joy, by continuing to live despite the darkness that might surround us.
The point is: you can’t allow fear to take hold of your life, or else it will stop you in your tracks.
When I came out to my mother, one of the things she constantly told me whenever I went out to bars was to be careful how I acted in public because you never know who is watching. For some reason, my mother assumed, at some level, that I would act differently now, like the stereotype of a feminine gay man.
At the time, the implication of what she was saying would annoy me because of her stereotypical view of gay men, but I was never mad because I knew that she was just scared for my safety. My mother was operating from a place of fear; a fear of the world, a fear of the unknown. She grew up in a time and a country where gay men would be beaten to death for going out in public.
Now, I knew that this was/is still a reality for some people, but I would not have been able to live with myself knowing that I changed my behavior out of fear. So, I would continue. I would continue to hold hands with my boyfriend in public. I would continue to shake my booty in straight bars. I would continue to be my authentic queer self, because I couldn’t bear to be anything else anymore.
For so much of my life, I would make decisions from a place of fear. I would put limits on myself, because I was scared people might know that I liked boys. I would stop myself from trying in school, because I’d tell myself that I’m not good enough, or I don’t know enough. I never realized that I was operating from a place of fear. At that is what stopped me from actually being able to enjoy my life.
However, what I ended up realizing is that you have the ability to change the narrative. What if it all works out in the end? What if you find so much joy and happiness along the way to the end of the world that it all becomes worth it in the end?
After seeing the news of Kobe Bryant’s death alongside the death of his daughter, I realized it could all really be gone at any moment. Death is inevitable. Its gonna happen, whether you want it to or not. It is entirely out of your control. And that may be scary for a lot of us, but I am here to tell you that know one knows what happens when you die.
Now, don’t let this fatalistic approach fool you, I ain’t trying to kick the bucket anytime soon and neither should you. However, it can teach us that every moment we are here counts. So, why should I let fear stand in the way?
Face what is in front of you. Sometimes you need to forget the rest of the world and just continue. Be mindful, and have a little faith that it’ll all work out.