April 3, 2015

Shallow Be Thy Name

By In Diary

I’m trying to get these posts out a little sooner than this, but you’ll have to bare with me as I get back into my groove. Between allergies, work and drama, I haven’t been left with much time for much else. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at the Grove in Los Angeles at the Nordstrom eBar, sipping a vanilla chai latte and trying to drink as much water as I can. Though there is a massive racket going on around me and the music is blaring, it’s strange how easy it is to think in such chaotic environments. If I were home right now, I think the silence would have already deafened me and stilled my hands.

I could talk about my allergies or work, but what I really think you want to hear about it the aforementioned drama I spoke of. I don’t go looking for it, but occasionally it finds me and I must deal with it.

And DEAL with it, I do.

This story actually ties into the photos that accompany this post. They’re what instigated a woman I have known for years to take up some personal crusade against me. The woman I am speaking of comes from a very religious background, the very same I was formerly apart of. I’ve spoken about my religious past before, but I will sum it up here briefly.

  1.  I was born and raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, though my grandfather (who raised me with my grandmother) was not a believer (far from it).
  2. At the age of ten, I was apart of a segment of Christianity that is referred to as “Charismatic.” It is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the holy spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles.
  3. I joined a bible college at the age of seventeen that emphasized in these beliefs and the institution was basically a cult.
  4. I was condemned and persecuted by pastors and leaders who learned of my gender identity issues.
  5. I was deeply miserable, desperately lonely and disturbingly depressed. 

For most of my life, I tried to be this good Christian boy I was supposed to be. Shortly after my twenty-third birthday, I stopped trying so hard. By my twenty-sixth year of leaving on this planet, I wasn’t trying at all. At thirty-one, that pattern hasn’t changed and has no signs of doing so.

The further I distanced myself from religion, I began to notice that certain things change in my life. These were changes I had hoped for. What’s funny, these fantastic things had been promised to me as a member of the religion, but were never delivered. The highlights from these changes were happiness, joy, understanding, perspective, knowledge and enlightenment. For me, it took walking away from what I had been raised to believe to find the things that were only supposed to be privy to the faithful followers of the flock, or so I was told.

Now this isn’t a criticism of faith. I’ve been careful not to bring faith into the picture because I see faith and religions as two completely separate things. The was I see it, faith is the genuine article and religion is the cancer that kills it. I don’t mince words here. I would go to far down that rabbit hole, but if you would like to hear what I have to say about the issue, I recommend you check out the Ele-A-Mental Podcast No. 56.

Back to the point of all of this! I’m in a really happy and healthy place in my life. The lady who started all this drama this week, when she first meet me, I was far from where I am now. This wasn’t a mystery to those around me. People could see my true  colors (or lack of)…and they were shining through. Being around this lady did help me. She was supportive and wonderful – everything I needed someone to be for me.

As I started to change and grow, that’s when things between us started changing. It was also clear that she wasn’t happy about that. I realized that she thrived on individuals reliance on her and she had a hard time letting go of that role. When her words turned from supportive to sabotaging, that’s when I decided to keep a distance. In the past years, that distance has only grown to the point were communication between us happens once a year over the phone. I’ve had a very difficult time with that even because of some religious views she has about the LGBT community and other topics.

It got to a point where I had to remove her from my Facebook because of some of the things she was doing. It seems though that she was still keeping up with my posts, which is fine. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not trying to hide anything about my life from anyone. Though, there are certain areas where I choose to exercise discretion. This is where we get to the part which is not fine.

My mom works for a church and while it’s not some extreme ministry calling down hellfire and brimstone against the LGBT community, I keep my life separated from it. I don’t go there and no one really knows me at that assembly. Simply put, I know how certain religious people can be and I don’t wish to put my mom into a position where she suddenly has to defend me. I know she would, but she deals with enough drama. I’d rather not add to it.

This woman I’ve been speaking about also goes to my mom’s church and has for a very long time. Now, I came out to her and everyone else years ago. Nothing was really said between the two of us about it, but every once in a while she would say something complimentary. I figured that she was going to be cool about it all. I mean, if she wanted to jam the knife in, she could have a while ago. Instead, she waited until this information could best be used for her own purposes.

This last weekend, she found a leader that my mom works with in the church and started talking about me. She tried to show them my photos, which I guess didn’t show up on her phone, but she did spin a tale about all the “demonic” things I was into and the corruption of the devil in my life. She shares all of this to get to the point that she is going to be apart of my deliverance from this sin. How unloading my supposed dirty laundry to people in that church was going to “deliver” me is still somewhat of a mystery. What clears up that confusion though is this persons personal motives and past history of behavior. In short, she thought by sharing this info and causing this trouble was going to get her some special attention and perhaps recognition.

I’m probably not the one she was expecting all the attention from, but nonetheless, that’s what she’s got. When I found out about all of this, my feelings were not hurt. While this personal attack was not expected, I wasn’t surprised by it. I had thought that a mutual respect had been formed between us. Instead, I got this person with a lot of personal drama trying to tear down my character and slander me. That I can not abide.

Now that may smell like I have some good ol’ fashioned revenge cooking up on the stove. It’s not like that though. My resolution to this issue is simple: I’m going to keep posting as I’ve done here and proudly present to you new artistic photos of myself each week. I could get all butt-bothered with this person, but the truth is she’s not alone out there. It would be easy to get detoured by these thoughtless words, but instead I choose to let this fuel my passion to do more and always be creatively expressive. I take these self-portraits because I love who I am and to encourage others to love themselves as well. I can’t forget that now or ever.

In regards to this entry, these are the perfect photos to accompany this story. It’s been in the last couple of years that I’ve allowed my true gothic nature to rise to the surface. Back when I was a kid in church, I remember skulls being interpreted as demonic symbols. That’s really stupid if you think about it, because we all have skulls. I really love skulls and I don’t think I have hidden that love from any of you. Why? I’m not sure, perhaps it’s just something very elemental about them. It’s more likely though that skulls have represented death or danger on many a warning label. It serves to me as a reminder that we all ultimately die and all we leave behind is our bones. I find something almost romantic about the whole concept.

To sum up this shoot, this is me rebelling against many things I was raised to believe and just having fun. It’s really the best way to live and I’m happy that I haven’t succumbed to the pressure to change. If anything, I only intend to get a whole lot more louder and wilder with these special things I choose to share with you, my beloved weirdos.

Escape The Ordinary,
Ele Nichols

Leave a Comment