I grew up in a Baptist home, and was raised by a country father and very religious mother. I have been attracted to men since I can remember. I remember going to swimming lessons and being entranced in the locker room by what I came to find out later in life were bears. I tried to pray the gay away from the time I found out that gay was “bad” until I was 18. I know for a fact that gay is not a choice.
From 3-12, when the 700 Club would be showing a gay pride parade, my mother would call me in to see the “Sinners” that were going to hell. She told me that all gay people would get AIDS, that they were all depressed, sexual deviants, pedophiles, murderers, and hellbound without hope. I believe she knew that I was gay, but wanted to change me.
She found out that I was gay when I was 12, by finding a picture I had drawn of me and a short, stockier looking Chris Mullin. She lost it, and life was hell for me for the next six years.
She took me out of public school in 7th and 8th grade, and home-schooled me. I had to go to several abortion clinics and hold “aborted fetus head” signs, and go to school board meetings and hear about how homosexuality was “wrong” and should be kept away from the children.
I was forbidden to go to the bathroom in public restrooms, and she’d tell me that I was narcissistic if she saw me look in the mirror, asked for contacts (I had huge glasses), try to pick my own clothes, get a flat top (I’ve always loved flat tops) along with quite a bit of other craziness that I won’t go into detail on this site.
If it weren’t for working for my dad as a brick mason/laborer in the afternoons, holidays, summer days etc., I don’t know if I would have been able to make it into adulthood. However, there I had to talk about girls, make fun of gays, etc., just so they wouldn’t know about me.
I was then sent to an Independent Baptist High School in Walkertown NC, that still considered interracial dating a sin (in 1999), and was an expulsionary offense. Gay, of course, was an abomination; however I made it through those four years unscathed. I lost quite a few friends from that part of my life, as soon as the rumor that I was gay made it through the school and church after I graduated.
I joined the Army National Guard as an Engineer in 1998 when I was 17, and did quite well, but that’s another story. Honorable Discharge.
At 18, I came out to everyone, because I was tired of hearing the gossip that made its way back to me. Actually, I came out as bi first, because I thought that would be like I was half normal in people’s eyes. However, I’ve never been attracted to women, and I became tired of half-lying and soon came out as gay. I lost most of my “friends.” However in the back of my mind, I knew that if they didn’t like me now that they knew the truth, then they were never really a true friend at all.
However, I pulled through it and at 21 I drove to San Francisco with nothing more than 300 dollars, my truck, my guitar and 2 ruck sacks full of clothes. I had made a deal with the owners of the Parker Guest House, who were nice enough to let me live and work there while I looked for full time work.
San Francisco made me realize that I was not alone, that I didn’t have to lie about myself all of the time to fit in, that there was a community for everyone, and that all gays weren’t evil, or the stereotypical type of homosexual, which I never felt I was. I have friends out there that I will always consider family, and it was the best thing that I personally did with my life.
I live as honestly as I can now, as an adult, after spending so long having to hide everything about me.
As for my mom, we can’t have a conversation without her trying to tear me down for being gay. I have had to exclude her from my life, unfortunately. However, my Dad and I are closer than I ever thought that we would be once he found out. He’s never going to hold a flag for me, but he’s respectful of my partner, and I know he’ll always be there for me if I need him.
If you are having a rough experience being gay, and growing up in the south, these are my tips…
You need to know, it does get better. You will have rough times, but don’t give up.
If you feel that you have to stay in the closet… Stay in the closet, however don’t lose yourself in there, and as soon as you can get out, whether it be when you are out of school or out of your area, come out.
Stay in school, and finish your education. Bullies make life horrible, I know, but you’ll be their boss some day.
You can’t pray the gay away. If there was anyone who is the best example of this, it would be me. Trying just adds sadness and guilt to an already difficult time.
Don’t be a bully to try to cover up the fact that you are gay, it helps no one, and imagine how you would feel if someone outed you and picked on you for it. You never know who is going through the same thing you are.
When you do come out, brace yourself for rejection but also be prepared to be surprised. However, just because someone says that they are cool with homosexuality, don’t let your guard down until you are sure.
People that tear you down have no purpose being a major part in your life.
Just don’t give up, and don’t let them wear you down.