The following story highlights the struggles of one man to find acceptance, and the surprising and inspiring response that he found when the truth came out.
I’m gay. I’ve known since I was a kid that I was different even though I didn’t know what gay was back then.
When I got older and figured it out I kept it hidden. I went on dates with girls and pretended I was straight because I wanted to fit in and because I’ve never known an openly gay person in real life.
My mom died when I was barely a year old and I was raised by my dad. Now I’ve never heard my dad say something homophobic or anything like that but he is the epitome of a “manly” man. He works as a mechanic, plays sports and does outdoorsy stuff and home repair. He dresses in plaid and jeans when he’s not at work and while he does wash he is as far from a ‘metrosexual’ as is possible when it comes to grooming. My older sister, while she is tiny and looks very ‘feminine’, is in the military and is very rough and tumble. My older brother is exactly like my dad, they dress very alike and share the same hobbies. He works in construction and infrastructure.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I know gay people do these "manly" things too, I’m just trying to show how I don’t fit in with my ‘manly’ family and how I feel like an outcast because I’m not like them even though I pretend to be.
There is a gay club that I have always wanted to go to, but I would park across the street or walk up and down the sidewalk in front of it because I didn’t have the guts to go in even though I always wanted to.
Then suddenly my dad, and to a lesser extent my brother and sister started acting weird.
My dad keeps mentioning gay people in the news without making a point and is being elusive. It has been really straining our relationship. I thought he suspected I was gay and was upset.
Last Friday he came over and was acting weird again. I couldn’t take it and confronted him. He was aloof and I accused him of not caring. He burst into tears and yelled that he ‘didn’t want me to kill myself.’
I am 23 years old and I have never seen my dad cry before, not over my mom, not when my sister graduated from boot camp or when my brother or I graduated from school. It just isn’t him.
My ‘manly’ man dad wept in my kitchen and told me after hearing about all the young gay people killing themselves over the past year he has been terrified that I am going to do the same thing because I won’t talk about being gay and just hid it.
Apparently I am not as good as hiding it as I thought because my family knows but didn’t say anything because they wanted to respect my privacy and let me come out when I was ready.
But all this time my dad and siblings were so scared I was unhappy and suicidal. I cried with my dad in my kitchen. I called my brother and told him. He said “I know. And I love you”. My sister was out with some military friends and when I told her she yelled to everyone in the bar “My baby brother is gay and I love him!” I came out on Facebook and everyone was happy and supportive.
On Friday my dad, my brother, my sister and my 3 best friends took me to the gay club I always wanted to go to.
None of them mocked anyone, said anything hateful or complained about being hit on. My dad was pulled up on stage with a drag queen. They all danced. Everyone was celebrating the SCOTUS ruling. We all went to the PRIDE parade as well.
Then recently my grandfather called me. He is a retired Baptist pastor. He told me that if I ever married, he is coming out of retirement to perform the ceremony himself.
I never thought this would happen. I thought everyone would hate me. But they don’t. They love me.