Hi. My name’s Tony DiMauro. I live in Manchester, New Hampshire.
I grew up in a very Christian household. I was completely homeschooled all the way through high school. The only people I had friends with were from church, and even then it wasn’t very strong.
About 10 years ago, I finally got my first phone. I had started a job and I needed a way being able to communicate ‘cause I didn’t have my license yet, so I needed to be driven to work. And of course with a phone comes looking up things I wasn’t allowed to, like shirtless men. Enjoying that.
And I would occasionally let my brother play games here and there on the phone. But this one time, I think I had gotten home from work one day and let him play games while I went and used the restroom. And when I came out, my mom was standing there holding the phone and said, “Take this and show it to your dad.” I knew exactly what it was she was getting at.
So I took the phone, walked to my parents’ bedroom and there he was, sitting in his computer chair. He asked me to show him the pictures on my phone and I opened it up. And of course there were some shirtless men in there. He was not at all angry about it, but obviously I knew that it was disappointing at least. I reached out to grab his hand kind of shaking as I reached and he took it and we prayed about it.
And afterwards I got my phone back and I left the room and I didn’t go straight back to my bedroom where I lived with my two older brothers. So instead I went to the bed – to the living room and sat on the couch, laid down and just thought about how frustrated I was. I just thought of how I hated myself for, you know, kind of realizing, Oh yeah, I am gay. This is like… this is real unfortunately. And how horrible it was. It really started to make me feel uncomfortable living there, and feel very constricted, unable to be myself.
So I went through college commuting. I didn’t end up living there. So I was still in this constricted house, this constricted life. But following college, graduating, I decided it was time to do something more.
So I decided to get a job at the Home Depot, where I started to make some more friends. One of which that I became really close with was able to start hanging out with her and we enjoyed going on long drives, just chatting… chatting the night away.
One particular night, we ended up driving to the ocean. It was really late, maybe 3:00 AM at that point. And we were talking back and forth all night long and eventually the topic of gender and sexuality came up and she opened up to me about herself being queer. And I was able to actually say what it was that I had been feeling for so long. I’m gay, I’m nonbinary, maybe even agender, which was the first time I had really said that to anyone.
Following those days, she really became this big support system for me. And almost an oasis of freedom that I had away from this restrictive house I lived in. Whenever I would call her, or we would hang out on the weekends, it always felt like such a weight lifted off of my shoulders and I was able to really be myself.
One particular day, I had called her and I was just venting so much about how frustrated I was with my family. She asked me in that phone call, “Do you want to move out?”
And I said, “Yeah.”
And she says, “Sure. Then let’s look at an apartment today.” We found an apartment to look at. And the next day we went and had the showing. That one didn’t work out. But the second one we looked at, I got with literally no trouble. And I think within a couple months I was able to move into it and that’s where I am now.
Moving in everyone helped. And my parents came, they helped move stuff in, but they still weren’t all that excited about it. But that night I slept in, I was very happy to be alone for basically once in my life.
From there, I was able to start to talk to more people, more friends, people from church that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. And I found so many people that were supportive the entire time of the queer community, but I just had never known. I even was able to post on Facebook a few times, you know, I’m queer and I’m not confused. This is not something by trauma. This is not a shameful thing to be.
One of my brothers is transgender and he’s the other person in my family that I feel so happy to have. Someone who knows really, truly, what it was like to live in that restricted house.
When it comes to the rest of my immediate family, my brothers, my parents, it’s not so great. So unfortunately for now, I don’t know where that relationship was going to go. I don’t really talk to them anymore.
Nowadays being by myself just means freedom mostly, I have the freedom to be myself, the freedom to do what I want, talk to who I want, be friends with who I want. I do now have a clearer picture on who matters to me and why they matter to me.
Obviously, life is hard just in general, but as far as being queer, if you can move out of a situation and become more of yourself, it’s so fulfilling to actually feel comfortable in yourself.