By Patrick (a guest writer)
*All names have been changed*
Known Since Childhood
I knew I was gay as far back as I can remember. When I was younger, I guess I wouldn’t label myself as ‘gay’ because I didn’t have the complete knowledge of what that term meant – or what it meant to ‘label’ one’s self as ‘gay.’ However, I would always hear my older siblings say the phrase “that’s gay” which was synonymous with “that’s stupid,” so I knew it had a negative connotation associated with it. So, when I say I knew I was gay, this means I knew I was attracted to boys in a way that I knew was wrong – wrong, that is, according to traditional society.
Once I was an adult and out, I remember my parents telling me a story of when I was younger. I was in preschool or kindergarten, and they had just picked me up from another boy’s house. They asked how my time was, and I exclaimed how much fun I had along with saying how cute the boy was. Later that day, my mom suggested to my dad that I might be gay, but my dad angrily dismissed the idea. As a child, I found joy in playing barbies with my sister and playing dress up with girls’ clothes. Although I did have male friends growing up, I was much more comfortable with girls and tended to gravitate towards them while admiring the boys from afar.
I did have a childhood female friend whom I became very close with while I was young. We shared the same first name, and I would say spending time with her was the closest thing I felt to heterosexual ‘love’ at a young age. We got along so well, and I admired everything about her. We would always say that we would become married one day. We even kissed one time. I’m not sure why I felt attraction towards her. However, as I grew older and came to terms with my true sexuality, this fantasy with her eventually faded.
Not The “Stereotypical Gay Guy”
Once I reached high school age, I knew for sure I was gay. However, I didn’t want to be. I would pray to God to make me normal. There were a few guys that were out in school, and they did have friends. But they also had enemies. I saw how they were made fun of sometimes, and it terrified me. The guys who were out acted like the stereotypical gay guys – very feminine. At the time, that’s the only type of gay guy that I knew existed. I wasn’t like the stereotypical gay at all. I didn’t have a feminine voice. I didn’t worship rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. I didn’t like to drink or party. Also, I was (and still am) a Christian, and I knew that all gay people hated the Christian faith because it proclaimed homosexuality was a sin. Because I didn’t associate with any of these aspects, I didn’t want anyone to know I was gay. I didn’t want people to think I was something that I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be labeled as gay because I didn’t fit the gay label. I was just a normal guy who, by chance, happened to be gay.
Best Friends But Nothing More
In high school, I met my best friend Trixie, and she is still my best friend to this day. We spent a lot of time together because we got along so well. It is rare to find a person that you connect with on so many levels, and I feel blessed to say that I found that in Trixie. She is one of my few close friends who has been by my side before and after I came out. Because we got along so well and because I never wanted anyone to know I was gay at the time, I did think about being with Trixie. I know that she loved me. I loved her too, but not in the way I wanted to love her. I contemplated marrying Trixie and starting a family with her. We would be the perfect match and live the perfect life. I wouldn’t have the deal with and stress about all the hardships of being gay. I would be happy because I would be with my best friend forever. It all sounded so appealing. In time, Trixie did try to ask me if I wanted to date. However, I cared about and loved her so much that I couldn’t imagine putting her through that. I never wanted to give her false love and then end up breaking her heart. I wanted her to date people that would love her in the way that I wish I could.
Coming Out: Acceptance
My mom was the first person I came out to. It was the summer before my junior year of college. We were taking a walk in the park near my mom’s house. I had kept my secret for 20 years, and I really wanted to tell someone. I always knew that my mom would be okay with me being gay. She was very understanding and accepting, and we were very close. So, I just said it. “Mom, I’m gay.” My mom immediately gave me a big hug and told me how happy she was for me. She explained that she knew my whole life that I was gay, which I still find humorous to this day. Even though I came out to my mom, I told her that I didn’t want anyone else to know. I didn’t like the way that gay people were perceived in society, and I didn’t want to be seen as that way. My mom supported me and didn’t try to convince me otherwise. Telling my mom was a significant moment in my life. I was able to share the biggest secret of my life with someone else. The feeling was indescribable. A weight had been lifted.
That fall of my junior year of college, my roommates ended up throwing me a surprise party for my 21st birthday. One of our gay friends attended, and he brought another gay guy with him – John. At some point during the party, I was able to talk to John out on the balcony. John seemed like a normal guy. He didn’t act feminine and didn’t worship rainbows. For the first time, I had met someone who was exactly like me. Before meeting John, I thought that the only type of gay person out there was the stereotypical one. John still does not know to this day, but he is the sole reason that I came out to the rest of the people in my life. After meeting him, I thought, “if there are people like John out there who are gay, then I want to be gay.” It was the first time I felt that I wasn’t ashamed of being gay. I was happy to be gay. I was happy of who I truly was.
Now that I was more comfortable and at peace with the fact that I was gay, it was time to test the waters and tell a few people. I told my roommates at the time, and they were all very accepting and happy for me. The more people I told, the more confident I became. Everyone seemed to react so positively. It was a relief for me because I had heard horror stories of guys coming out and it not going so well. I was at a college, and no one seemed to care. There were many people at the university who were already out, so it wasn’t a big deal. I knew that if I decided to come out in high school it would have been social suicide, so I felt fortunate that this happened during college.
Coming Out: Initial Ambivalence to Eventual Acceptance
My best friend Trixie and I ended up going to the same university. She lived in the building right next to mine for the first two years. In our junior year, I got an apartment off campus with three friends, and Trixie stayed at the Christian Student Fellowship house – a faith-based living center on campus. Like my mom, Trixie was very accepting and understanding. She was my best friend and has been my rock throughout my life. I knew she would be okay with me coming out. Every year we would participate in a charity event called the Nearly Naked Mile in which everyone would run around campus in their underwear. It was the evening of this event, and I was in Trixie’s room at the fellowship house while she got ready. We were talking like we always did, and I said, “I have to tell you something.” She responded with, “Okay,” and looked at me sort of funny. I then exclaimed, “Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m going to tell you I’m gay or something!” We laughed, and then I said, “Actually, that’s what it is—I’m gay.” I usually joked around a lot, so Trixie didn’t believe me at first. However, I explained that what I had told her was, in fact, truthful. She seemed okay with it, but I sensed something was off. Trixie was my best friend, and of all people, I expected her to react in a certain way. A joyful, celebratory sort of way. After all, this was big news. I was telling her who I truly was. Everyone I told before her reacted in such a happy, elated way. Even though Trixie didn’t react how I had pictured, I didn’t let it bother me. It was going to be an exciting night running around in our undergarments.
We ran around campus nearly naked and had a lot of fun. Trixie and I rode the bus back, and on the way we started talking about me being gay. I was explaining how much better I felt now that I had this big secret off my chest. Yet, Trixie seemed uneasy. I didn’t know why. I never thought that it was me that was making her this way. Then, she said it. She explained that she didn’t think I would be able to go to Heaven if I was gay. This was another moment that was, again, indescribable. It felt like a ton of bricks hit me. All that weight that had been melting off of me just piled back on like wet cement. I was covered. Covered in anger, hostility, and agony. I had never really been upset with Trixie until now. She was my best friend. The one person who knew everything about me and still accepted me. It truly broke my heart.
As a Christian, the biggest insult that someone could ever tell you is that you are not going to Heaven. Therefore, it upset me immensely when Trixie told me. However, Trixie was just stating what she believed. Like I said before, gay people hated Christianity because it proclaimed that homosexuality was a sin. Trixie believed this proclamation and was simply staying true to her faith. After she told me, I did not respond in a nice way to say the least. To say I was angry is an understatement. I guess the single most reason why I was upset was because I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t choose to be gay. Trixie didn’t understand. She viewed this as my choice, my lifestyle—which could not be farther from the truth.
I scolded Trixie. I told her that I was going to Heaven, and I told her that I wasn’t going to lose her as a best friend either. I told her that she was going to change the way she thought about gay people. I really put the hammer down that night. However, even though I responded so mean to her, Trixie didn’t fight fire with fire. She didn’t yell back. Instead, tears started pouring down her face. I always refer to this moment as being the scene out of a movie. Trixie and I were outside my car in the parking lot. It was dark and we were standing under a street light, illuminated by a soft yellow glow. We were both still in our underwear from running the naked mile. As the rain came down and soaked us, we embraced each other in a warm hug. And we cried. This was a moment I will never forget. For some reason, I knew that we were going to be okay. I knew that we would continue to be best friends. By the grace of God, that’s exactly what happened. Trixie never left my side, and she would become one of the biggest supporters in my life.
My dad was the second to last family member that I came out to. Unlike my mom, I was terrified to tell my dad. My dad was religious just like Trixie. After coming out to Trixie and seeing how that went, I couldn’t imagine how my dad was going to react. I knew I had to tell him though, so I did when I came home for the holidays that winter. I told him in the evening, and he seemed upset initially. However, later before he went to bed, he told me that he still loved me and would always love me. I knew he was still flustered and upset, but it went better than I imagined prior in my head. That night he couldn’t sleep at all, and he woke up in the early morning to go see our pastor. He told me that the pastor explained homosexuality was a gray area in the Methodist church—they didn’t really know what happened to gay people and left it up to interpretation. This is probably the best thing that the pastor could have said to my dad because it allowed him to decide for himself if being gay was acceptable. It took several months, but my dad eventually warmed up and became very accepting.
Coming Out: Rejection and Tragedy
The last family member that I told was my brother. I had been out for several years, and I didn’t feel the need to ever tell him. My brother had an extreme faith, and I knew he would never be okay with me being gay. It wasn’t really a big deal to me because my brother lived far away in another state, and we never really saw him. However, the whole family went to visit him for Thanksgiving one year, and my mom insisted that I tell my brother. She believed it was right for him to know. We stayed with him for about a week, and I waited until we were actually heading out the door to go home to tell him. It didn’t go well just as I thought it wouldn’t. My brother never raised his voice and spoke in a calm manner. He explained that it was just a phase I was going through—that he thought he was gay once too. He also made it clear that it was against the Bible. Just as with Trixie, I did not respond in a kind way. I had no tolerance for people who were unaccepting of something I had no control over. Also, at the time I was dating a guy who I was very much in love with, so this made me extra defensive because I didn’t want anything to put our happiness in jeopardy. I yelled at my brother and told him he was going to respect me and respect the love that my boyfriend and I shared.
The next day while we were driving home, I received the worst news of my life to date. My boyfriend had passed away from a heroin overdose. What made this tragedy even worse was I had just yelled at my brother out of love for this guy the day before. It was as if I was being punished for being gay and being in love. Nothing else mattered in my life for a long time after my boyfriend died. However, hope and faith never left me. I would go on to heal with the help of my family, friends, and new love.
A Note from the PolyMama
I want to thank Patrick so much for sharing his story. I share these stories so that others can identify with them, relate to them, and know they aren’t alone. It is now going on 3.5 years since his boyfriend died, and as he said, that changed his life forever. However, since then, he’s dated on and off and really come to know himself. If you want to hear more stories from Patrick, let me know and I’ll have him guest write some more.