I’m From Vanceburg, KY.

by jeff sizemore

The only thing that amazes me more than the mind’s ability to hate is the heart’s ability to love.

I grew up in a very rural and isolated area of Kentucky. Racism was open and prevalent as was homophobia. As a young gay man I felt that the only way I could live my life was to move away and that is exactly what I did. I am now an open, out and happy man living and working in Washington, DC.

About 5 years ago I was visiting my family when my brother motioned for me to follow him from my parents living room. I followed him to the bedroom we shared as children. After we entered he closed the door and took a moment to look at me before he spoke “Are you gay?”

For a moment my heart stopped beating in my chest. Although I lived openly in DC back home I was still in the closet. I never lied to my family but we had our own version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

When my heart started beating again I looked my brother directly in the eye “Yes. Yes I am.” This was the one question I always had promised myself I would never shy away from because if they asked they are ready to know and deal with all that comes with knowing.

He took a moment to gather his thoughts “Is that why you never come home? If it is, I don’t care! I just want you here to be part of my children’s lives!”

I was awestruck. Never in a million years would I think I would ever hear that from my brother. With tears in my eyes I hugged him. We held tight for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was just a few seconds. We broke apart with the promise to talk more later.

To this day I am a part of my niece and nephews life. Safe in knowing that if some day I ever find that man that makes me want to move heaven and earth to be with him, that he will be part of their lives as well.


  1. Jeff,

    I am so happy for the step you took with your brother. His love for you is obvioius and I am very touched by his wanting you to be a part of his children’s lives.

    As a gay man, you will help your niece and nephews learn about part of our world not many people openly talk about. They will see you and know that gay men are loving caring people — not the “boogey man” lerking around the corner the right tries to paint us as.

    I wish you the very best in all that you do. You have reinspired me by simply writing your story here!

    Mike DeGrand

  2. Wow! Great story, Jeff! I, too, grew up in a rural area in eastern Kentucky and have had to deal with the same situations. Good to know our families roots grow deeper than bigotry/hate.

  3. Love your opening sentence… and what a great story, I’m happy for you and your brother’s family.

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