• Mathura Hawley


Updated: Aug 2, 2021

“I am not Christopher,” I would declare to anyone of authority who would listen, at least for the first twenty years, before finally giving up and answering to the name featured in my wallet. "

My mother gave me the first name “Christopher” so she could stand before the Catholic Church and christen me, then stopped going to church completely before I was a year old. My family never called me anything but Scott, my very 1970’s-appropriate middle name, and once I was old enough to hold a pen, I was forced to learn to write this mystery name that didn’t represent me in any way. ”Christopher” hung like a dog tag around my persona my entire life, an unwelcomed guest. Each first day of school, I awkwardly did not answer to him. Every form I have ever filled out has him spelled out across the top. My license and passport declare him to be me. My credit cards require him as identification. My insurance covers him for illness. I respond to his being called at every doctor’s office, every airport, and car repair shops. I take his prescriptions, his name boldly labeled on the bottles. I have claimed my father’s body with his signature, and donated to charity in his name. For a child who already suffered a crisis of identity from physical and emotional abuse, this only heightened the pain. “I am not Christopher,” I would declare to anyone of authority who would listen, at least for the first twenty years, before finally giving up and answering to the name featured in my wallet. My identity crisis deepened, and the name began to remind me of two things: someone I wasn’t, and my buried real self — someone I didn’t like. Confusion turned to shame which caused more disconnection. I began to fantasize about being called different names, and coming out as gay helped. I could make up names for my own protection when I met someone, and try them on for size. As a child, I had been infatuated with a boy named Matthew, grandson of our neighbor. He was kind, and one of the few people who had religious beliefs that seemed to actually make him a better person. He was handsome. He played basketball. Years later, using his name began to feel false, and as my gay life got lonelier and darker, I felt that I had tainted it. Then I met Om, who shared stories of his own beliefs, of people, places and ideas that overflowed with beauty and intelligence. One day he told me that Krishna was born in the city of Mathura, a place of spiritual origin and enlightenment. Mathura reminded me of the good things I had felt about Matthew, and it sounded like Matthew, strong and bright. As my own consciousness awakened, this name began to touch me, to fuel my curiosity and desire to know more about myself and for the first time ever in my life, my place with God. I began to feel filled with a kind of love that came from above, and from inside me at the same time. Each time I allow it, it fills me. When I find the strength to let go, it guides me. When I stop trying to know everything, it teaches me. When I refuse to accept the darkness, the sun shines. Today, August 15, 2014, a Brooklyn Court judge smiled as she stamped her approval on a piece of paper which officially changes me from the person the world tried to force me to be, to the person I have become. So here I am. About to turn 50 years old. I was abused, but I fought my way out. My world crashed and burned, not as a sign that it was over, but so that I could fall in love again. I know, in my heart, who my real friends are. The dog of my dreams is sitting on my lap, looking up at me. I am vegetarian. I seek joy, and reward kindness. I am strong enough to help anyone who needs me. I am loved. I am here. I am Mathura.

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