I’m Florin Helf and I’m from Bucharest, Romania. I was born in a Romanian hospital, my mother gave birth to me, falsified her identification, and fled the hospital. She left me there and the state then sent me to my first of two orphanages. I grew up there until I was seven and a half in those orphanages, at which point I found out that I was going to be adopted at the age of five. When two and a half years later I did get adopted, what the orphanage did was take me to the airport, the international airport, and that’s where my mother had just landed and they surprised her with me, and the only word I knew was “Mommy” so I ran into her arms and that was my beginning story. So now that I was seven and a half, I moved to Pioneer, Ohio, across the world and I finally had a family. I was ecstatic and I excelled at school right away. I learned English within the first year. I just desperately wanted to assimilate into the culture. I wanted to be the perfect son for my parents. So when I was fifteen, my parents left the house with their dogs and I was home alone. I had just recently bought “Brokeback Mountain”, and I was really excited about watching it. I just couldn’t wait, I couldn’t wait to that night after they went to bed, so I just got it and I was going to start playing it. I got about fifteen minutes into the film when all the sudden I heard our dogs barking and that was the sign that my parents were all of a sudden home. They said to me right away, “What are you watching?” And I said, “Nothing just watching TV.” And my dad said, “What’s in the DVD player?” And I just completely froze. I don’t think I was even able to answer him. So he went over, opened the DVD player, and saw that it was “Brokeback Mountain.” And what he said to me was, “Okay this is what you like watching. I want to know why. So we’re going to sit here as a family and we’re going to watch this and we’re gonna figure out why you like watching these things.” So after the film ended, my parents all of a sudden said, “There’s gotta be consequences here.” I was grounded for a month, I think if I remember. And of course they ripped the DVD in half and they threw it. I was told that I would be, you know, I needed to re-read the Bible and I need to really understand what it was that I was doing and that I need to stop this behavior immediately. I can remember crying myself to sleep that night. So through high school I kept myself in the closet, I only told a few friends of mine, but my parents, I knew that it was unacceptable and I knew that I would lose any part of that love that they have for me if I ever did come out. So as a protection I never did, and all the way as I went into college I kept that a secret from them. It was after my freshman year that I had gotten my second boyfriend at that time, that I was really happy. And I was going to be coming home for Christmas and I really wanted to share with them what was going on in my life and I really didn’t want to be dishonest. So I got to writing this letter. It took me weeks write this letter, and the basis of the letter was, “I love you, you’ve taught me everything that I know, you’ve taken me out of an orphanage in a third-world country, and given me everything that I have today. One of the things you taught me was honesty and the importance of honesty, and because of that and I can no longer lie to you. So I am gay.” So an hour later, I received a response and it was from my mother, and my mother said, “Hi Florin, I’ve read your email. I’ve read it several times. And I’m shocked and I’m disappointed. This is not the son that I helped raise. Your father is in an incredible health situation right now.” They had just told me a week prior that my dad was going through some health issues, and that it wasn’t a big concern. And all of the sudden now in this letter my mother is saying in this letter that was actually a lie, “Your dad is actually in a life or death situation right now and cannot handle this stress.” Two hours later I actually got a second email from them and now both of my parents were writing this email, so I was to believe all of a sudden that my mother now had told my father. And this email was a lot angrier, and it was saying essentially that this is not the son that they know, this is not the son that they want to know, and how dare I do such a thing, ruin their holiday, ruin their Christmas to be so selfish. That was the word that was used so much, that I was incredibly selfish. I was so devastated because they followed it with, “You’re uninvited to Christmas,” and there was no invite to come back, so all of a sudden I thought I had lost my parents. It wasn’t until about a year and a half later that I called them up and I said, “You know what? This has gone on long enough, I want my parents back in my life. I know that we don’t agree about who I am, but I want to start afresh and I want to get to know each other again. I want to create a foundation on love, respect, and honesty.” And so we started there, that was the relationship I wanted when I first met my parents, that first moment where my dad held me and my mother did. And that’s the relationship that I want to have today. My greatest hope is that I’m able to call my parents up, and tell them what is going on in my entire life–not everything excluding my gay life. That’s really my biggest hope. I want to be able to share with them the person I love or the person I’m in a relationship with. I want to…I mean, who we love is one of the most authentic things about who we are, and that’s the thing I am not able to connect with my parents on. I hope that someday I will be able to.