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My name’s Erik Bucci and I’m from West Orange, NJ.
I spent 5 years in the Marines and I felt like that was a real defining moment for my life. I came out when I was 26 years old and when you’re faced with things like this in your life, whether it be straight, gay, I mean, life issues, the thing that we need to keep in mind is, that we have to be first and foremost true to yourself. And for me, that’s what coming out was all about.
My mother’s mother took it the worst and she actually openly disowned me to the family for a few months. And my mother was so open and accepting and loving, and that’s kind of what I expected from my grandmother because growing up, that’s all I knew and to finally be at a moment in my life where I’m comfortable with myself and to reveal that to someone and to be outright disowned obviously is somewhat traumatic. But then she finally came around. I wrote her a letter. It went into a little bit about my military service and how I felt that I had given back to this country and I deserve every bit of equal right to express myself and live the life that I wish to live as a citizen of the United States and I feel like she should respect that. Her husband was a highly decorated veteran of the Korean War and I felt like that would be a good way to relate to or sort of get to her own sort of feelings to to make her feel what I was feeling. And I think it did get to her but she’s the type of woman who wouldn’t come out and say that to my face, like, “Oh, I read your letter and it really made me feel like I should say something to you.” She’s not that type of person. But at the same time I love my grandmother. She’s the only grandmother that I have alive right now. I can only fall back on the memories that I have of her when we had a good relationship.