Small town dreams, a journey toward acceptance
My Personal Story
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:10
“Well, I’m not exactly straight.”
I first came out to a couple of people in high school, and both attempts had devastating outcomes. After that, I decided to keep my sexuality a secret, especially from my family, because I was afraid if I told them, I might face the same negative backlash I had the times before.
But living in a small town can sometimes make that difficult. I would learn that one hot summer day while visiting my grandmother.I dropped in unexpectedly for lunch, like I had countless times before. And as always, she was excited to see me.
She immediately got to cooking while I sat at the table. We talked about everything from family to work and school. We joked and laughed just like we would any other day.When food was done she served me and watched me eat. The conversation changed to the things I had been up to with my friends.
At one point in the conversation she stopped, looked straight at me and asked, “Daniel, are you gay? Or straight?” The question took me by surprise. It was almost like she already knew the answer. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t prepared for the consequences that might follow, and this was my grandma, the person I could always count on. What if she reacted like the other people did? I couldn’t imagine how that would feel coming from her. I didn’t want her to be mad, or sad, or ashamed of me. But I couldn’t lie to her either, so I replied, “Well, I’m not exactly straight.”
She looked at me, her eyes soft and serious, and said, “Well, I’m okay with it. And so is your grandpa.” I’ll never forget those words as long as I live. Before her, the only other family member I had come out to was my closest cousin. She reacted to the news by calling me “gross,” and said there “was something wrong with me.” It was devastating, and it gave me a reason to never tell anyone else.
But now my grandma had turned that around. She had come to me with the question so I wouldn’t have to go to her with it. And she accepted me. It was a completely awesome feeling.At the same time, I was filled with anxiety because I knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of my family found out, either from her, or from the small town talk.
I was mostly afraid of what my mom and dad might say. Would my dad be mad? Or disappointed? And my mom, would she be hurt? Or maybe find a reason to blame herself?
At the time, my relationship with my dad was pretty rocky. We got along for the most part, but when we argued it got bad.
I still hadn’t told him I was gay when one day, during an argument, he turned to me and said, “If you are going to choose this life, I hope you know it is going to be a very lonely one.”
The argument ended and I left his house. In his anger, he had basically told me he already knew, and he didn’t approve. It was my greatest fear come true. My mom, on the other hand, came to me and let me know she knew I was gay, and she respected my decision to stay quiet about it. She accepted me. It was a huge relief. And it eliminated any fear I had of hurting her.
Time would pass, and eventually things would start to smooth out. My dad would accept the fact I was gay, and my mom would continue to be there for me. Even my cousin and I would mend our relationship.
No one’s coming out journey is alike. Mine was long, and paved with drama,
anger, and plenty of tears. But it was right for me. The one thing to remember through it all is to never lose sight of who you are, because in the end, that’s what’s most important.