Thursday Guest Blog – Topher Chandler

topherThe man I was to become.

Whether you believe in destiny, divine intervention, the universe, or evolution it doesn’t matter. There is one thing that all these have own common. Hard times. These instances of tribulations come into our lives and test our merit. They try us, force us to adapt, grow, and become stronger. They set you up to become more and turn you into the person your are today.

Growing up I grew up poor. For the first five years of my life I shared a room with my mother, and it was really a porch of all things. No insulation on the walls, no air-conditioning, and no privacy. I learned a very hard lesson very early on in my life. That no matter how much money you have, or do not have, family is the one thing that you do have. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

For the first 7 years of my life I did not have a father. I always knew that this was not what the world considered normal. My family did not hide it from me. But they made sure that I knew that I was wanted and loved. I learned young that families are what you make them. They may be different, they may be unconventional, they may be small but they are always filled with love. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

A father came into my life and adopted me. This taught me then that families can be chosen. They can be people that you are not related to by blood, and they can become a family and can be there for you. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

While having a father taught me that families can be chosen he also ended up being an alcoholic. Things were not pleasant in my house after a while and I learned that addiction was real. I learned to stand my ground, even with family, when needed. I learned that the home can also be one of the scariest places in the world and to fight to have it safe again. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

Things in the house for a time were very scary. I had the “run away” bag packed and ready to go. I had the plan to run. I even had taken it to school ready to disappear a lot of times. The thing that always stopped me was my mother and brother. I knew I could not leave them. I knew that family does not abandon each other. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

In the town I grew up in words like nigger and faggot were everyday terms. For some reason I could not use them. There were times that I was even called a nigger lover as my best friend was black. In fact the first fist fight I was ever in was over him (yes I won). I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

I was 19 years old when I finally came out of the closet. I knew my family would accept me, but still the fear was present. I knew that they loved me, but fear held strong. When I finally told them I was relieved. I learned then that no matter how scary being yourself is that it is always better to be that. The people that matter don’t care and the people that care don’t matter. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

Coming out of a gay bar for the first time was an experience. Who knew that rednecks and bigots like to hang out in the parking lots and pick on the people coming out of the bar. It was easily one of the scariest moments in my life thinking I was going to die just because I wanted to be surrounded by people like me. Then all of the sudden I was surrounded, not by the bashers, but surrounded by lesbians, drag queens, twinks and other random bar patrons. I learned that community is suppose to be there for each other and no matter what you have to fight for every single member of it if you wish to keep it. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

As an adult making new friends is always weird. I have no other way of putting it. I never knew that the people I was making friends with were to become my chosen family. I never saw it that way at the time. They were my best friends, my sounding board, and yes even then my family. I chose them, and more then that they chose me. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

Burying lost loved ones is always difficult. I had to bury an ex, Gary. He took his own life by stopping his medications and died. We had not dated for some time but I was the one called on by his family to speak. Not because I am a public speaker but because they wanted love to be the message, hope to be shared, and humor even in the dark times. I stood up and did it, and I had to wait my turn to mourn for they needed me more at that time. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

Finally came my time to find love. Yes, it happened and I did not want it. He was my best friend and I did not want to screw that up. We knew the deep dark fears, dreams, and desires of each other. I never thought that love like that was in my cards (several generations of divorce was in my family). But that moment came, standing at the edge of the cliff and a decision had to be made. So I jumped. I did not know it then but it was a sign of the man that I was to become.

Now I find my self in a new world. A world were others are learning the fear and lessons that I learned early on. They are losing family, not fitting in the box checked normal, fighting addiction issues in their house, and even resisting love. So I share this with you. DO NOT GIVE UP. I am the man I am today because of all these things. I could not be strong if they did not happen. I could not be prepared for the next stage of my life were it not for them. At the times that these happened I did not want them, but I stand before you today a strong happy man with a life filled with love and laughter. And today prepares me for tomorrow for I do not know yet the man that I will become.

With LOVE and HOPE,

Topher Chandler.

 

5 Comments

  1. Amy

    This is a beautiful lesson. Thank you for sharing your journey and your strength through adversity. I am so glad you never gave up.

    Reply
  2. Sherry Strickland

    Poignant!

    Reply
  3. Laura

    Thank you for sharing your story, it is such a testament of your strength of character, and the love you have in your heart for so many.

    Reply
  4. Shannon Waites (Post author)

    Thank you so much for opening your heart, your life and your path for us! Your story reminds us to never give us, to be strong in who we are and to walk that path that we believe in.

    Reply
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