Truth Wins Out


photo by David Quick

There’s a reason this homo makes his home on the range. Kansas may have a wrap for being backwardly close-minded, but I’ve found that Kansans are actually a wholesomely accepting bunch.  Truth, it seems, is a common denominator that can allow people with divergent social and political views to exist in peace.

Growing up, I wasn’t always enveloped in harmony. When I was fifteen and living in North Carolina, I coughed up a confession to my best friend. I felt a breeze of relief when the words “I’m gay” escaped my lips. The truth, I hoped, truly would set me free. That gust soon turned into a hurricane, though! I was subjected to verbal and physical harassment just about every day thereafter at school. I didn’t have any friends, because no one wanted to be seen with “the fag”. Interpersonal contacts usually consisted of being spat upon during lunch or assaulted in the locker room during P.E. The truth, it seemed, had punched me in the gut!

I soon learned, though, that trajectory follows truth. Not long after coming out, my family relocated to Kansas. My first memory of the heartland is waking up during the car ride to Wichita and seeing The Flint Hills. There’s something about those audacious rolling plains and the serenity of the majestic prairie that inspires certainty.  At that moment I vowed to always be honest about who I am, whatever the consequences.

This time, the truth didn’t just set me free—it set me on fire…kind of like one of those famed KS prairie blazes! Once I had the audacity to speak the truth, there seemed to be no stopping my potential. I’ve ran a political party, fundraised for a successful non-profit, organized art events, written and published essays, and served on community boards, all the while being 100% honest about who I am.  Kansans are a divergent bunch when it comes to politics and religion. Many are (and always will remain) conservative in thought and traditional in lifestyle. However, honesty is a Kansas value that transcends ideology. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard, most people here will give you the dignity and respect you deserve. Home for me will always be on the range because it’s here that people have allowed me to reach my potential while being my pure, authentic self.

A crisis happens when you look yourself in the mirror and realize that you can’t lie anymore. You want to run away screaming but can’t; you’re a prisoner to your own reality. You want to lash out at someone, but there’s no one to blame. You want to bargain with God, the devil, or any other deity to trade destinies with someone else. You realize it’s all futile. There’s no escaping it. You have to embrace who you are.

If you’re hiding the truth, let it out. The reality is there’s no better place to be YOU than right here on the range.