My voice is unique. The sound, tone and inflection has always been different. I was embarrassed by the way I talked for a very long time. As a child, I would hate speaking to people who didn’t know me. Usually, I would hide behind my mom hoping that she would speak for me if I was asked a question. I thought it would be easier than receiving the weird looks that so many people unfortunately gave me.
As I grew up, I learned how to mask the voice that seemed too feminine for those in my small southern town. I would only speak in certain situations and around those I felt comfortable with. Through puberty, I prayed my voice would change like the other kids in my class. To my dismay, it never changed to the magnitude I desired. It deepened, but still sounded gay.
The older I got, the more I learned how to cover up the words that made me sound effeminate. I would consciously think about every word that came out of my mouth. I would disguise my voice when in an all male environment because that’s usually who made fun of me. I learned how to deepen, soften or cover the words that came across too feminine. I learned to never speak at football practice. I even went an entire semester pledging for a fraternity barely uttering a word.
Why? Because it was different.
When I moved to London, NYC and DC, I learned that my voice was nothing to be ashamed of. It was actually something that made me unique and stand out. This eventually turned into an asset instead of a hindrance.
My voice has done so many things for me since my early 20s. It gave me the strength to come out. Through my voice, I was able to say, “I love you” for the very first time. My voice enabled me to sell multi-millions of dollars in new business for some of the most dynamic organizations in the world. My voice cut ties with those who didn’t believe in me or support me. My voice exchanged vows with the person I love the most.
My voice not only gives me words, but it gives me success. Whether it’s relationships, professional life or love my voice gives me everything I pride myself on today.
Derick Simmons is a thirtysomething gay man living in Washington, DC. With roots in southern VA, he has endured challenges growing up gay in a straight world. Check out his blog Gay Man Straight World and follow him on Twitter @DerickSimmons or Facebook.
On Wednesday, the NBA released its first collection of LGBTQ Pride teeshirts featuring the logos of all 30 pro basketball teams. The line is a collaboration between the basketball league, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and TeeSpring and was released in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month. This is the first time an [...]