I’m From Dallas, TX.

by zachary armstrong

No, it was not an overnight change. This was an event years in the making.

Then again, it’s not like anyone was going to think otherwise, were they? What with all the pro-gay propaganda out there, you’d think that by now, everyone would know that gays are not gay by choice. And it’s not like I was exhibiting very heterosexual behavior. It’s funny; I did have a girlfriend once. Five years old, both of us. Back when everyone else was deathly afraid of cooties, we were breaking down the walls of arbitrary gender segregation (when is it not?) common to our age group.

But now? No, I had never wanted a real girlfriend. I had talked about it from time to time; I’d played along when girls were compared among my friends; I even expressed interest in more than one woman. All of it feigned. I was too busy looking at naked men on the Internet to give a care for women.

My mom had noticed this, too. All talk and no walk. She said something along those lines to Dad, the night after I had come out to him. She noticed how I had never made any real movements to getting a girlfriend. She was in the hospital with a severe case of an eroded stomach. That day was her last, and they were trying to get her out of the building when Dad told her what I’d told him the night before.

“So?” she said.

I always loved her for that. Such a predictable response, coming from my mother, and in that kind of rushed, hurried situation for that matter. A supporter of gay rights, she didn’t care that I was gay, just that I was happy. Still, it was too hard for me to tell her in person. It was bad enough that I had to face my dad the night before. A general status update of Facebook would let the general population know, and Dad would tell Mom for me, so I wouldn’t have to face anyone else. Talking to people about it was the last thing I wanted to do, though it was inevitable regardless of how I chose to reveal the truth.

My family sans mother was at dinner the night before. One of my favorite burger joints. October 1st, 2010. On the way home, in the car, sister in the back with her iPod, the conversation had somehow ended up regarding homosexuality. My homosexuality. Jokingly, at first, but I knew it was going to come out eventually, and that eventually, considering the circumstances, would probably have to be soon. So I told him. I told him the truth. I told him everything. I had no secrets after that. I told him I had a boyfriend.

That man changed my life. Dad, yes, forged my life, but I mean my boyfriend. He cheated on me, but I like to remember him for the life-changing part. I met him one day while I was having lunch at my college. We met after that, and after that, too, and eventually we exchanged phone numbers. It wasn’t shocking to find out he was gay. It sort of radiated from him. Plus, his Facebook page said he liked men. In short, it wasn’t hard to figure out.

He was in the middle of a failing relationship. Even so, that didn’t stop him from expressing interest in me on several occasions. I didn’t tell him I was gay at first. I was in the middle of a revelation. All those questions… Could I fall in love with a man? Am I gay? For sure? All those questions were being answered for me, one by one, because of this man. I knew I was physically attracted to men before, but now I knew I could love one, too, so when he broke up with his boyfriend and asked me out the next day, I didn’t hesitate to accept.

I couldn’t hide it anymore. It would be suspicious that I was simply going out at least once a week to God knows where; I’d have to come up with some kind of excuse, and back then my mind just wasn’t wired for seriously lying to my parents. So I came out. I came out to open arms. The extended family I thought would disown me welcomed me with renewed love. The friends I thought I would lose shook my hand with newfound respect.

And best of all, I was free.

I am free.

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