The year was 2010 and I was 33 when I returned home to Lumber City, a small, rural, farming town in southeast Georgia. I hadn’t been home in almost a year because to me, Lumber City wasn’t a home but a place where I was raised. It was a place where I use to swim in the creeks, pick peas in my grandfather’s fields, and cut grass barefoot with my cut-off blue jean shorts. It was a place where I loved to climb trees and catch grasshoppers in the summers only to switch duties to gathering firewood for fires and enjoying Granny’s homemade pickles. It was the South and it was what I was about. It also was where at an early age, I discovered I was gay and was attracted to the same sex.
With these feelings, I knew Lumber City was not for me. I was bullied and picked on because I was more effeminate than most of my friends, all of whom were girls. I was picked on and called the usual names of faggot, gay, and homosexual. It was hard because I knew I was gay. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone because it wasn’t accepted. It was a death sentence in the fact that being gay wasn’t normal. Being gay was a sin. Being gay meant I was going to hell. Being gay was DOOM.
I came out at age 18. I moved away and lived my life in various US cities, like Atlanta, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Orlando, Chicago and finally Las Vegas. I searched for who I was because growing up in Lumber City did not help me identify who I was as a gay man. This identification didn’t happen in several other cities where I was a drug addict, sexual addict, and an alcoholic. Even being out, I still was searching.
My searching ended when a friend loaned me 60 bucks, put me on a bus to Sacramento and told me to find who I am. I ended in Sacramento with nowhere to stay and hardly any money in my pocket. I managed to find a place, do odds and ends of jobs and enroll back in school. The year was 2002 and my searching ended when I was elected as student body president at Sacramento City College. I was elected as a gay man. I finally was accepted. My college years at SCC enabled me to grow and to experience things that most people from Lumber City, Georgia never get to. I was the Los Rios Community College Student Trustee and was elected as the State Student Senate Rep for Region II of community colleges. I did all of this as a gay man.
With these experiences, I had arrived. I graduated from college with a business degree and now after a three-year relationship, I have met the man of my dreams, who I will spend the rest of my life with. I have found acceptance in the community of Las Vegas where I am politically active. I also manage a successful salon, where I love everyone I work with.
Therefore, I say that returning home in 2010 was still hard for me. But my life experiences helped enable me to do it with pride and my head held high. If I can go from a small town to being picked on, deal with several addictions, and then go on to accomplish so many things, then to those young gay men who are struggling or believing that there is no hope out there, I say to each of you, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am a prime example. If I can do it, you can do it. You are loved and you are important. Go seize your life and help educate this great country of ours. Much love!”