High Fidelity: Diving in

I am a 36-year-old man and I don’t know how to swim. There. I said it. I put it out into the universe for all the world to see, read and judge.

I’ve been saying that statement a lot the past few weeks. This past summer I went on vacation with my fiancé and another couple to the Virgin Islands. The restaurants were great, the people were nice but there was just one part that had me very nervous. Our boat day.

Coming from the land-locked city of Atlanta, Georgia I did not grow up going into the water and especially not the beach. I just never learned to swim. When I moved to Florida in 2008 I would always make plans to learn how to swim in the summer time, but I did never did. It all caught up to me on this trip during our boat day.

My fiancé and the other two couples we were with would get off the boat at each stop, swim around, do some snorkeling and climb back on the boat. Meanwhile I was just having a little dance party by myself on the boat.

There was one point where the captain was able to get me kind of close to the shore. I would just have to use a pool noodle, life jacket and my fiancé to pull me a couple of inches where my feet could hit the bottom and I could walk on shore.

I. Was. Horrified. Those might have been the scariest 30 seconds of the past few years of my life. I knew at that point that I needed to learn how to swim.

So here I am, a grown man, signing up for swim classes at the Y, like I’m eight years old.

It’s been amazing actually, going out of my comfort zone and learning a new skill. I yelped with shock and glee when I was able to finally float on my back!

So why am I telling you about my adventures in learning how to swim? Because now is the time to step out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve always wanted to do.

As a gay man, I’ve always been in touch with my feminine side. Because of the era that I grew up in, I never wanted to be one of “those” gays. Wearing high heels, wearing a wig, sporting short shorts. I always stuck up for “those” type of gays that wanted to wear those types of things, but I wasn’t one of them.

I always wanted to be described as “masc.” I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, being stuck in our homes or not traveling, but I feel like we have finally busted out of those roles that the straight world made us feel like we had to have to be an “acceptable” gay.

I’m so sad that so much of my life I hid away from things that brought me joy, just because I wanted my personality and likes to be acceptable to a straight world.

I kid you not, because I put myself out there and wanting to learn how to swim and talking about it publicly, I decided to throw caution to the wind and finally buy a wig. Just because I wanted one.

My fiancé and I have become friends with this wonderful couple that lives in Tampa. They have invited us over for a couple of dinner parties and it was like stepping into a world of freedom and acceptance.

After appetizers and dinner were served and the booze was flowing, they brought out a box of wigs and heels and we had a little dance party in their living room.

At first I was shy to try on a wig. Past traumas and not wanting to be “too gay” were floating around my head. I through caution to the wind and tried one on. It was an amazing time. Why do we put limits on ourselves to truly live the authentic life we want to live?

After watching my grandmother slowly grow old and eventually end up in a bed, not able to walk or do anything for herself, I often thought about if she had any regrets. Was there anything she wanted to do that she felt like she couldn’t do because of a society?

I’m sure as a Black woman born in the 30’s in a racist world that looked down on her for her skin color and gender, there were lots of dreams left unfulfilled. I promised myself at her funeral that I would live my life with no fear. From the small, like wearing a wig, to the big, like learning how to swim, I didn’t want to leave any dreams unfilled.

So what are you holding your life back from?

Miguel Fuller is the host of Miguel and Holly on HOT 101.5 in Tampa Bay and hosts daily segments on the nationally syndicated Dish Nation. See his life in pictures and videos on Instagram @MiguelFuller.

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