Hi, my name is Richard Mesich, this is my sign name, I’m from Portage, Indiana. In my senior year in high school I was lost, isolated, and not sure about myself. I wasn’t happy with who I was. I was not ready to come out of the closet. My mom knew that I was gay but I wasn’t ready to come out to her. I was so ready to get out of high school and go to college. I moved to L.A. to start college. I was so excited and nervous because it was my first time away from my family. Luckily my uncle who is my mom’s brother lives close by in L.A. and he is gay. I occasionally visit my uncle and his family. He has a partner and adopted two boys. Every time I saw them, I would see their lifestyle and meet their gay friends. I realized how open and very comfortable they were with themselves. I then realized that I am gay. Before my 21st birthday, I was talking to my mom on AOL instant messenger. We were talking and my mom asked me, “Are you gay? Are you interested in boys?” I was thinking and realized it is time for me to open up, so I told my mom, “Yes, I am gay.” She said, “Okay, that’s good I am happy to hear that from you. I knew you were gay since you were a little kid.” The next day I went to see my uncles and told them that I told my mom I was gay. They were happy and they knew since I was a kid as well. On my 21st birthday, I had a family dinner with my uncles and their kids. Later that night, they took me to my very first gay bar in West Hollywood. I went in to the bar and was very nervous. I didn’t know how to react. When I went in, I had never seen so many gay people in my entire life. I realized that I felt uncomfortable and told my uncles how I felt. They said it is okay, it’s fine if everyone looks at me, they won’t hurt me. I said, “Okay” and we walked around and checked it out. A few guys hit on me and tried to talk to me but I was not ready to talk to them. My uncles said, “Whenever you feel uncomfortable, we can leave.” We left a few hours later. I had a good time with my uncles, drinking and chatting with them. Years later, after college, I started dating. I dated a few guys on and off. It was good and enjoyable. But I was very nervous dating a guy for the first time. I met this one person and he was hearing. We went out for dinner, and we could communicate a little but sometimes it’s hard with a hearing person. Mostly I would text on my phone to communicate. It was a very nice time, as he was very patient and understanding. But I realized that being deaf and gay can be difficult with gay hearing people that I had dated. Sometimes they don’t understand about deaf culture or know about deaf culture. Also they don’t know that sign language is my first language. Some of them understood, but some of them didn’t fit in with deaf culture. I don’t want to feel isolated or feel limited with hearing people. I don’t care if someone’s deaf or a hearing person but I am happy where I am. Comparing high school to where I am now, I used to feel lost and isolated. I didn’t know who I was. Now I feel confident, happy and know who I am. I’m comfortable with hearing and deaf people, it doesn’t matter to me. Now I know who I am but I am not in a rush to look for love. All that matters are my family and friends who I enjoy being with. Whoever is out there will be very supportive and love who I am. I want it to be something that lasts. That’s the reason why I want to tell my story. If someone out there is deaf and gay, I want them to know that there are other people who are deaf and gay. I know some people feel lost and isolated because they think there aren’t many deaf gay people out there, but it’s not true. The truth is, there are a lot of people who are deaf and gay out there. You just need to find the right time to meet people. It will make you feel more confident.