in on the joke and I can't stop laughing Creepers Currently Stalking Me
So recently, NPR contacted me to ask if I’d participate in a piece they were doing regarding the ‘coming out’ experience - what I sent didn’t work out for segment they were running, but I didn’t want it to go to waste. I’ve never really shared this on the internet, but there’s a first time for everything…
For me, coming out of the closet as gay was never a looming event, let alone one that deemed a reaction. Since I was young, I lived with my mom and step dad, and I couldn’t have been blessed with more open-minded parents. To say that they always knew I was gay is an understatement - whenever I was lectured for doing something wrong, they would always include the phrase, “When you’re older, this behavior won’t be tolerated or appreciated by your significant other.” - never girlfriend.
With my biological father, however, things were different. He was religious and conservative, and was always pretty straightforward about how he viewed homosexuality. This didn’t really bother me much, I only saw him about a dozen times a year during high school, and conversation was always as generic as the weather.
When my biological dad called and told me he was in town and wanted to grab dinner, I remember feeling like something was unusual. I hadn’t seen him for a month or so, and when I walked into Quiznos, he looked noticeably different. It was nine years ago, but I still remember so clearly the moment he looked up at me as I walked in, seeing his gaunt face offer a sad, tired expression of something to come. He dove right in.
He told me someone from his church had found my Myspace (yeah, I know, Myspace, it was a while ago, don’t judge) and how it said I was interested in men. He asked if this were true, I told him yes, and my mind began racing. I was so overwhelmed that I only remember snippets of what he was saying to me, things about how this was my mom and step dad’s fault, how I was doing this for attention, how this was just a phase, how it was a sin, how he was concerned because I was living a dangerous lifestyle, how it was just a choice.
I never really had a big dramatic coming out announcement, so I was not prepared for this. It was kind of just - there, understood, and my close friends and family accepted and respected that. In high school, there were plenty of openly gay students and teachers, and instead of being judged or hated for what I was, I was embraced. So when my dad began to question me, I couldn’t help but find it ridiculous. Why should a man who had so little to do with my life have the right to judge it?
What stuck with me most was when he said he had enough money to fix it. I will never forget him saying that – because it wasn’t just the words that were ridiculous, but the tone of it all – it sounded full of genuine care. Not with anger or disgust, but with love – and this is why homophobia is a terrible evil: it disguises itself as concern while it is inherently hate. I was blessed enough to know this – but so many queer and questioning youth aren’t as lucky, and almost all homophobic people will outright deny it. Don’t be fooled: no person, no matter how important society deems their relationship to you, has the right to denounce you for who you were born as.
As an openly gay person, it’s easy to look back at the coming out process and have the echo of scarring words or the pain of physical abuse overshadow the support from those who accept and love us for whom we are – but it’s most important to know that both sides of the experience exist for everyone. It may feel like you’re completely alone, but for every bigot who denies you, there is someone out there, whether you’ve met them yet or not, who does and will accept you completely. Don’t believe me? I promise you this: my mom, my step dad and I are three of them.