A few months ago I was invited to attend the Gay Writes Community Writing Club sponsored by Salt Lake Community College. We meet the second and fourth Monday at 6:30 p.m., SLCC Community Writing Center, 210 East and 400 S, Suite 8, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.
This group is open to the LGBT community and allies. There are poets, fiction, nonfiction, a lot of variety. Members get feedback and help on their writings; it has helped me a great deal with writing my articles. Please join us.
For the next few months, I will be highlighting some of the great talent in the group. I know you will enjoy the writings.
By Jeromy Robison
Working at eBay for several years has taught me something about authenticity. It is everything. Collectors don’t really care about packaging or signs of wear. In fact age can be an advantage in the collecting world: it adds originality and value. But since authenticity is so valuable, counterfeits are often even more abundant than the real thing (though even fakes have allure). While the difference, in monetary value, between a fake and an authentic piece can be thousands of dollars, the sentimental or historical value of a fraud is zilch. In order to avoid being defrauded, collectors, scrutinize every detail of an item before investing. That is why the biggest selling point of any item on ebay is authenticity.
That makes sense in the eBay world, right? But it also applies to life. (Ahem.) I value originality because I have an identical twin. My brother, Jason is a genetic replica of me– except that he’s straight (bless his heart) and knowing that drives me to be unique. Recently Jason called me to vent about conflicts at home and at work. (Straight problems.) He’s an educator, administrator and has kids of his own so life gets understandably tough.
He said, “Jeromy, when you came out of the closet you suddenly had friends, everyone liked you, and life got easier, right? Straight life is exhausting. How do I come out of the closet too?”
(Boom! . . . Mushroom cloud.)
Hmpf. As if being gay makes everyone magically like me. I had a hunch that Jason was getting at something good, so I called mom. I asked her if I was more likable out of the closet than in. Her response was precious.
“Worm,” she said. (Cuz that’s what she calls me. Hush.) “You aren’t really a different Jeromy now, but somehow you’re more Jeromy than before. It was like seeing you through a filter for years, and then suddenly you were brilliant. I like this new Jeromy better.”
(Awwww. See? Precious.)
I wanted more data, so I called sister with the same question.
“I always knew you were gay,” she said, “but you were unhappy. I figured the topic was off limits until you owned up to it. And now that you’re out, we can talk about anything. How’s that guy you’re dating?”
(Isn’t she a gem?)
Looking back, coming out of the closet was definitely a pivotal experience for me. I was born, like everyone, into an assumed role with defined family dynamics and social constructs. Admitting I was homosexual meant abandoning convention and going off-script (scary). It meant ditching prescribed ideals and developing new ones. I had to write my own, original life script, while embracing all of my parts, good and bad. That right there is the very essence of being authentic. (Plus since I was born as part of a duo act it helps to know where I really shine.)
Perhaps my family is right. I’m happy being me. I’m not any more likable just because I’m gay. I’m likable because I like myself and that’s attractive. Coming out of the closet was just the catalyst, for which I am grateful.
So, what of eBay and authenticity? While everyone has to face their demons eventually, I think homosexuals have the advantage of forced self-evaluation. People know a fake when they see one and keep their distance. People also draw closer to those who are genuine because it’s easier to be around them. Coming out of the closet offers that chance of refinement and liberation. If I embrace and love all of my parts, even with signs of wear, then others will see the real me, like my family did. They will want to invest in the truly original work of art that is Jeromy.
Bring on the bids!