his story

Travon Free Is An Actor, Athlete, Comedian, Brother, Frat Boy. Oh, And Bisexual

It’s been the best of time, it’s the worst of times. Dickens couldn’t have summed my life up any better. This is the tale of two lifestyles, if you dare. A roller coaster ride it’s truly been. Ive always been one to follow my heart and my feelings and lately I feel I’ve been call to do what it is I’m doing now. Coming out.

I’ve constantly pushed my friends and strangers who read my writings and social network posts to live truthfully, honestly, authentically, and with love and compassion and I feel the world needs a little bit more authenticity. I need it from myself. So this is me practicing what I preach. Hopefully the few pages of this post inspires someone to live a more authentic life as well, or at least not want to kill themselves for being different.

This moment has been 11 years in the making. Five of those years spent trying to gain an understanding of who I really was, and the other six spent growing into it. Now that I am 25 years old, I feel I have learned enough to finally express what had initially plagued me my entire adult life, but would turn out to be nothing more than a tremendous blessing.

I’ve been a lot of things and done a lot of things in my life. Brother, son, student, athlete, fraternity boy, writer, comedian, actor, and dare I say, I’ve done these things while remaining quite handsomely charming and humble. All most all of them make me extremely proud of who I am and what I have become. But most of my teen and adult life there was one thing that I wasn’t so proud of. In fact I spent many years painfully ashamed of it. That thing being the fact that I am bisexual.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed for lack of a better term, with the ability to mask the homosexual side of me allowing me to avoid judgment from the outside world. But who are we to assume someone is straight or gay? There are so many kids and teens that aren’t lucky enough to walk around wearing a mask of heterosexuality and they are being teased and bullied on a daily basis to the point where they are killing themselves. I feel I have a responsibility to do something about it.

From the time I began to develop a sexuality up until the age of about 20, my life felt like oil in a world made of water. The two don’t mix very well if at all. Couple that with the fact that the religion I was brought up in wasn’t very gay friendly, I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I felt like God had made a mistake. Because I knew I had not chosen the things I felt on the inside. I had always been attracted to girls but around the age of 14 I noticed things I had never felt before. I noticed that I was also attracted to other boys. I can say that now but at the time I didn’t really understand what it was. Being that homosexuality isn’t openly discussed in the black family home as easily as other communities and when it is, it’s not usually in a good way.

Being a young teen I was deathly afraid to mention my feelings to anyone, given the fact I was the basketball player who spent most of his time around other boys all the time. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable nor did I want to face the possible rejection and ridicule that would come along with thinking you might be anything other than straight. I knew I couldn’t be gay because I knew I was attracted to girls sexually but I knew there was more to me than I could understand at the time.

For many years I lived in an internal hell, because I believed that’s where I would end up for feeling the way I felt. I tried suppressing my feelings or pretending they weren’t real or weren’t there and maybe I could pray them away. 10 years later, not the case. The first adult I ever confided in about my feelings was a pastor at a church retreat I went to when I was and I remember him telling me that I wasn’t gay or bisexual, but that it was because my father wasn’t in my life and it caused me to seek his love from other men. Not surprising that would be his response since he himself is a “reformed” gay who was cured by God. Well that made me feel good for about a week but I knew it wasn’t true. It was actually complete bull. But at 14 you don’t know that yet.

As I got older leading up toward college I became more fearful because I just wanted the feelings to go away so God would love me. Needless to say they didn’t. For the first two years of college I was at mental warfare with myself, to the point where it drove me away from church and God. I couldn’t imagine how God would make me this way and then reject me. I couldn’t listen to preachers tell me I was going to hell any longer for something I couldn’t control. Finally, around the time of my 20th birthday I said that I would no longer go against the grain of who I felt I was (at least internally and privately) because it was killing me inside. I finally accepted me for me. And for the first time in a long time I felt good. I felt really good. I had reached a point where I felt if God didn’t need me I didn’t need God.

My freshman year of college I met one half of my best friends, a beautiful girl by the name of Sacha. I didn’t know she was gay when I met her, I was just a college basketball player who wanted to be friends with hot girls. Though I waited until I graduated college to tell her I wish I hadn’t. It probably would have helped me a lot. She has been nothing but instrumental in the maintenance of my sanity for the past four years of our eight year friendship. I also met my second best friend Rosa through her as well and they have been nothing short of angels from heaven in my life.

After spending so many years in spiritual turmoil, even spending some time not believing in a God at all, I saw Michael Beckwith on Oprah. He was talking about God in a way I had never heard before. The God he talked about loved me. It was as if everything he was saying was being downloaded into my soul and my spirit had begun to awaken again. I found my way into a place that was more conducive to my spiritual growth.

I was still a little skeptical because in my 23 years of life to that point, I had never heard anyone talk about God, love, and homosexuality in the same sentence without mentioning hell or repentance. I had to know where he spoke or taught and Sacha had been going there for a while and took me to Agape. This was nothing short of divine intervention, the true nature of what “God” really is, calling me to where I belonged.

After leaving there it felt as if my soul had reawakened from an extended hibernation and that “God” didn’t hate me; hell, I can’t even say with 100% certainty that God even exists, just like you can’t, so why should I continue to torture myself? But something blessed me with an unbelievably compassionate spirit that I don’t think I would have, had I not been born this way. I think if more people could see the world through the eyes of any person or group of people who have ever been mistreated simply for being who they were born to be, we would live in a much more compassionate, loving, caring world. You would think the black community if any, would understand that more than any. They Don’t.

Do I believe the Bible and religion is doing just as much harm, if not more, than good to people and the world? At this point in time, absolutely. You have an entire group of people who alienate and persecute a minority group of people because of one Old Testament verse while casually ignoring all of the other “abominations” in that same book on a daily basis.

Listening to a woman I worked with who ultimately inspired me to write the book I wrote last year say such vile, hurtful, baseless, things about someone because they were gay hurt so much to hear, especially knowing they were her family member. What hurts the most is listening to someone say things like that and they not know they’re talking about you as well and you feel you can’t defend yourself directly and have to pretend to be taking a stand for “someone else”.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed for lack of a better term, with the ability to mask the homosexual side of me allowing me to avoid judgment from the outside world. But who are we to assume someone is straight or gay? There are so many kids and teens that aren’t lucky enough to walk around wearing a mask of heterosexuality and they are being teased and bullied on a daily basis to the point where they are killing themselves. I feel I have a responsibility to do something about it.

Because bisexuals live like unintentional double agents with one side always in the closet depending on whom you date. But I’m no different than anyone else really. Bisexuality doesn’t affect my driving habits, my vision, or when my bills are due.

In September and October alone of last year, over 10 people as young as 12 committed suicide for being bullied for being gay and the saddest part is some of them weren’t even gay, they were perceived as being gay. These bullies don’t learn this stuff on their own. They learn it at home. And that’s not even taking into account the hundreds of kids beaten up every year and who drop out of school from fear of being bullied, then some of them have to go home and be bullied by family and parents.

Writing my book took me on such a deep journey into myself that I believe it was God’s way of truly opening me up to who and what I really am because I learned so much more about myself and the world. I was afraid to write it initially because I wondered, “well what if people ask am I gay” or if it forced me out of the closet. But I kept writing anyway. When I reached the end I knew I had done a great thing and that people needed to read what I had written. It helped me truly love myself for the first time in my life, and had I not done it, I probably wouldn’t be writing this.

After reading the stories of such brave young men and women who had been beaten or killed or suffered through brutal attacks, I felt it was time for me to step up to the plate. The heaviest stone I have carried my entire life is finally being put down as if Atlas was finally able to take the world down from his shoulders.

My sexuality has always been on a need to know basis and for the larger part of my life, since I’ve come to understand who I am, I learned that most people don’t or didn’t need to know. It just provides another reason to cast judgment. I’ve listened to the things some people in my family have said as it relates to the issue, so it didn’t really help with the coming out process. There have been times when I heard Christian family members say some pretty “un-Christian” things about gay people.

If I did want to marry a man, they don’t think I should be able to that’s for sure. They say once you find out there’s a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person in your family everything changes. But I’ve learned through research for my book that sometimes that change is for the worse. There have been times on holidays where I would want to just do there stereotypical thing and tell everyone. Part of me wouldn’t care what anyone thought but a part of me still would. This past Thanksgiving, listening to a lengthy dinner table conversation, it was very close to being that day.

You always curse the process while you’re going through it but you’re so thankful for it when you feel you’ve reached the lesson. My adolescence was no walk in the park but I made it. I figured out who I was and I’m very comfortable with it. The French author Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”. That day has come for me and I can no longer remain bundled up. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, I just didn’t know how.

I firmly believe that the Bible was not meant to be taken literally it was meant to teach lessons and be taken seriously

Now I can truly say I’m in a place of spiritual liberation. I think it’s no coincidence that my name translates into “free love”. I’ve always lived my life in a loving care free manner and people have always tended to liked me, almost with little effort on my part. It wasn’t forced or strategically planned; it was just me being me. Loving people and living my life freely.

My favorite quote is by Voltaire, when he said “God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh”. The reason I love this quote so much is because it speaks volumes about the people in society. We’ve done nothing but label and separate each other throughout history and used God as reason or evidence for justification but what most people don’t realize is God has made it very simple while man has made it very complicated. People have used God to do all kinds of destructive and hurtful things to other people when the message is simple, love each other. But because religion and the Bible have been so terribly abused, people like me have to go through life feeling like our existence is a mistake. I just wish all the people who killed themselves before they got a chance to see the process through to the end had another chance.

I believe in a universal power and religion but it’s nothing like the traditional. It’s not based on any man written book or some collection of rules or guidelines. Because the “God” I know is love and that love is unconditional and my religion is just that, mine. It’s not based on a verse in the old testament in a book of laws to which no one today still follows any of, yet the only one of those laws people insist we still obey is the one that promotes exclusion and hate. I’m willing to assume you’ve eaten shrimp or lobster in your lifetime; worn clothing made of multiple fabrics, touched or eaten pork, or done at least one of the many things Leviticus calls an abomination and is punishable by death. Call me an Atheist with an asterisk if you want, but I’m not on board for many reasons.

But there’s a reason we don’t kill people as they walk out of red lobster or murder the NFL players as the leave the field on Sundays. It’s because we are modern individuals in modern times and the laws of the land shift with the time as knowledge is gained by the masses. I can assure you that you won’t find a single mention of Jesus Christ denouncing being gay in the New Testament. But you will find him teaching love, compassion, charity, peace, and many other positive equality based teachings.

It’s not until we decide to become educated beyond the Bible that we learn that homosexuality has occurred in nature as far back as recorded natural history. I firmly believe that the Bible was not meant to be taken literally it was meant to teach lessons and be taken seriously; otherwise I think we need to revisit my Red Lobster idea. If you believe with all your heart that God pretty much detests gays, can you prove to me he does? Can you prove to me that God even exists? Can you prove to me that the Bible is really the actual true word of God? No one alive today was there when it was first written. But the difference is faith. We believe because we choose to. Religion is a choice, being gay isn’t.

I’m sure when you were presented with Christianity at whatever point in your life if you’re Christian or whatever religion you may be, you didn’t ask for proof that everything they told you was true. You just believed it. It’s a matter of faith and why should gays and lesbians be excluded from society based on something no one has any real concrete proof of? By the way, the man who commissioned the bible to be made, you may know him as King James or read from a King James Version Bible; well he was also a gay man. Funny how it all works out right? So to teach your children that a group of people are bad or wrong is no different than what white people did to black people all throughout early American history. Why continue a cycle of hate when we can foster a culture of love and equality?

All Jesus ever talked about was love and peace for EVERYONE. Funny how most Christians miss that part. I think the true God, if you want to call it that, teaches living life based on love and equality not fear and exclusion. If given the choice today, I don’t think Jesus would even be Christian; the way people try to spread hate and discrimination in his name. Living your life based on the Bible is no different and just as much of a choice as me picking up a Harry Potter book and choosing to live by its contents.

If you truly believe that when God judges how you lived your life no matter how great it was and how many great things you did for people that he will say “well too bad you did it while being gay so I don’t care, it doesn’t count” then I feel sorry for anyone who believes that. All religions share a common thread, to use love in order to live the best life possible, and that there is a higher power that guides us along with a better place to get to.

I believe that the Christian based opinion about LGBT people speaks to the general arrogance of most Christians believing that it’s their way or the highway which is what turns many people off to the that particular religion. You could have been born anywhere else in the world and whatever the native religion is that what you would be, and would that make you wrong or hell bound? I don’t think so. I think more people should consider things of that nature before condemning everyone else. After all, when did asking for love and acceptance become so wrong? Shouldn’t that be easy for someone with Christian beliefs? Maybe in a perfect world.

I feel good that I’ve made it this far and done this much in my life. Sometimes I wonder how differently things would have turned out had I not kept being bisexual a secret. It’s a lot more complicated than just being gay. Because bisexuals live like unintentional double agents with one side always in the closet depending on whom you date. But I’m no different than anyone else really. Bisexuality doesn’t affect my driving habits, my vision, or when my bills are due. If external details of my life offer no incentive to come out, my inward life cries out for it. Most of us grow up presumed straight until “proven” gay, and it may take years to realize that neither label really fits who you discover you are.

A bisexual identity can be difficult to maintain because, unless I date both sexes at once people will use my current relationship to define my sexuality, and that isn’t something I want to be defined by. I want to be defined by me and the things I do and the type of person I am. To hear someone say you can’t be gay and masculine when I’ve done it for 25 years kind of makes that notion a bit false. Most people are hung up on the stereotypes about gay people that they forget they are actually real people who look and act many different ways. No one has ever looked at me and thought I was anything other than straight. Is that not proof enough?

It doesn’t make sense to have to come out all the time and everywhere. And contrary to popular belief about bisexual people, yes we do exist, no I don’t get a sexual smorgasbord, an open relationship, or a lavender Toyota Prius. I just get peace of mind. The comfort of resting in who I am and knowing that no matter what anyone says I have every right to be me. Quite frankly, what other people think of me is none of my business. I couldn’t have said that five or 10 years ago. Over the years I’ve come to learn that in light of my strengths and in spite of my weaknesses, I am doing a beautiful thing with my life and at this point I couldn’t be happier.

I was fortunate enough to not have to deal with being bullied for “looking gay” or for what people thought I was, not to mention many people don’t pick on someone 6’7 250 lbs either, so I can only empathize in that facet. But I can relate to the self hatred, nights spent crying wishing you were different, being terrified of someone finding out, asking repeatedly “Why me God?”, but as I got older I began to realize, why not me? I am a true minority in every since of the word, I’m black, 13% of the population, I’m 6’7, far from the average height of a human being, and I’m bisexual, which represents approximately 10% of the population. So I can assure you my life experiences are and have been quite unique.

If trying to out someone is considered bullying, then I might fit into that category, given the fact one of my college teammates somehow caught wind of my secret and tried to tell anyone who would listen. He didn’t care if they were on or off the team. He’s the kind of guy who would probably try to scratch the S off my SAG card and replace it with an F. Fortunately for me, my track record with women along with his lack of evidence wouldn’t allow anyone to believe him. I found out about this a few months after graduating college because no one came to me for verification. He Claimed to have a photo of me at a gay club, problem was at that point in time i have never been to one. Sucks for him.

And contrary to popular belief about bisexual people, yes we do exist, no I don’t get a sexual smorgasbord, an open relationship, or a lavender Toyota Prius.

The part that made me feel good though, in retrospect to finding out that people were told this behind my back, was given the fact that most of my team had been told I was gay, none of them treated me differently or acted weird around me, proof or no proof. Earlier this year after I came out to him, My closest friend on the team at the time who was also my roommate said that the reason he didn’t ask me was because he thought it was disrespectful to me and he loves me like a brother so it didn’t matter either way. That was both shocking and great to hear, because I don’t want people to love or accept me because they think I’m straight or gay. I want people to love me for me because it’s the right thing to do. For now that’s just wishful thinking and I remain the eternal optimist that I am.

In the book A Course in Miracles, it says, “The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter communion but will also understand peace and joy. Holiness can never be hidden in darkness but you can deceive yourself about it. This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is deception and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality.”

I spent many years of my teen and adult life trying to deceive myself and the world to try and establish the darkness as a reality in my life. At one point I thought I would take it to my grave, but as you get older and you mature and you meet people and you fall in love that becomes impossible. It’s when you become willing to hide nothing, that you truly enter into a communion with God, Spirit, The Universe, or whoever you praise, and truly understand peace and joy.

Michael Bernard Beckwith said, “We shall be the angels and agents of change in our society…honoring and respecting one another, calling forth the highest and best in each other. Unique configurations of infinite possibility…that together we shall continue to build a kind and just global society.” This has been the message that has lived inside of me my entire life, from birth, even before I recognized it. I have always been a kind, helpful, and compassionate person, my childhood forgiven. I go out of my way to help friends and strangers alike and sometimes I say things that help people tremendously and I don’t even know where it came from but I know it was right and what they needed to hear.

Through this process I have come to learn that the butterfly doesn’t contradict the caterpillar. The butterfly is the next stage of the caterpillar’s development after it has surrendered to its next level. And much like the caterpillar, I was resistant to that transformation but you can only resist for so long before nature/God pulls you, the caterpillar, the rest of the way. Because what the caterpillar and the butterfly want are two totally different things. The caterpillar is ok with walking around slowly, from place to place, living a somewhat mundane life eating leaves all day. But the butterfly wants to spread its wings and fly, showing off the silent beauty that has been created.

I’ve spent my life doing everything and getting everything I wanted never having to use anger or violence and I think that speaks volumes about who I am and the power that lies within me. I am a natural born agent of change, though it took some time to come to know that, and now I know the proper use for my life and my gifts, to heal people through my work be it comedy or acting or writing. We’re all here to leave our marks and heal the world, leaving it a better place than we found it. Unfortunately we all don’t wake up to that fact in this lifetime. I now know that it doesn’t matter if I am black, white, blue, green, straight, gay, bisexual, or a motorcycle, as long as I live my life according to the will of God/the universe as I understand it and it’s intention for me.

At this point, I am no longer concerned with acceptance. My life will be my life and I have to live it for me. I will not fight to change anyone’s beliefs; I merely offer up an alternative way of seeing things, something not traditionally done in the black community, seeing how religiously we’re set in very old ways. Believe for me what you want, wish for me what you will but I already know the great things that are in store for me. You don’t have to like who I am, you don’t have to love who I am, but regardless of how you feel, I’m going to be me. You can choose to stay a part of me life or if you disagree with who I am then don’t. I would much rather you be truthful about your feelings for me as a friend than to be fake. I’m four years from 30; I’m a big boy now I can take it.

I’m not telling anyone how to run their family, raise their children or what to teach is acceptable to them, but I know for a fact, my child will never be taught to hate or dislike anyone simply because of who they are or claim to be, or what some book tells them. Hate and separation has never solved anything in this world but love, unity, and equality has created the world as we know it today. I do know that when blacks were fighting for equal rights the Bible was used to defend not giving those rights and left up to the people to vote and decide, blacks still wouldn’t have rights today. But it took a brave man in President Lyndon Johnson to recognize that telling people they weren’t equal because they were born a different color was wrong and what was being done to black people was wrong and he signed the civil rights act on his own volition.

Today people like myself all over the world are in the middle of our very own civil rights movement fighting once again, against religion and the bible to be seen as societal equals and 50 years from now when history books tell the tale, those young people will read in disbelief that the same wrongs were perpetrated twice when the example was already laid forth on how to prevent it. A lot of people will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Ironically even after the civil rights movement only 50 years ago, the entire black community might find itself there as a whole.

Some may wonder why I chose today to do this, though I’ve been hard pressed to do so in the wake of all the bullying and suicides taking place. Well as funny and trivial as it may seem, I had been receiving a lot of “signs” if you will, pushing me to this point. So today when I received an email from WordPress for the “post a day 2011? challenge and todays topic was “write about something you’ve never told anyone and explain why”, it seemed pretty compelling that today was the day don’t you think?

So to my friends and family, including my awesome sister and mother who have already had the privilege of knowing this information, I would like to say thank you very much for you love and support throughout this process because I couldn’t have done it without you. And to my friends and family just learning of this, I just say accept me as I am, as you’ve known me my whole life, or don’t. Because if I have proved nothing to you, I have proved that LGBT people are just as normal, kind and talented as anyone else in the world and who you love makes no difference in how you live.

How does this affect my comedy and acting career? Will it stop me from booking clubs or getting hired for acting jobs? who knows for sure. But I believe the added element of truth will make it a whole lot easier to be myself, write funnier material, write truthful material, and that’s good enough for me. Hopefully my story, work, and life can serve as hope to someone else because the world could use a lot less people in the closet that’s for sure. I just pray that my ultimate truth takes me to the place and places where I truly belong. The photos you see are in no particular place for a particular reason; just different moments of my life in all its many different forms its taken.

Hopefully I can be one more chip at the wall of homophobia in the world and especially the black community, where so many other people like myself suffer in silence or are banished from their homes and disowned by family because of who they are. It’s a very big problem and I will spend my life doing what I can with the talents I’ve been given to strip the black community of this illness. We can’t continue to be moral, ethical, and historical hypocrites in black America toward the LGBT community.

Dr. Seuss said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” and this is a lesson I now take to heart, because I have just committed to doing just that. If you want to stop being my friend then by all means do just that, but if you want to continue the friendship that we have, then by all means, do that as well. I will no longer life my life for other people or for the wrong reasons. I’m no longer letting my real life pass me by. I hope this finds you all well and I wish you all the most high blessings and love. Both supporters and haters, I love all you guys. No Homo.

This post originally appeared on FREEdom Of Speech and is republished here with permission.

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