Coming Out During Covid: “I’m Very Grateful for Being Able to Be Authentic with my Dad.”

by Wayne Glass

My name is Wayne Glass. He, him, his pronouns. And I am from St. Paul, Minnesota.

I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama as well as Spokane Washington. The reason why I lived in so many different places is because my dad was in the military. He was in the air force for twenty-five years and as a result of that, a very conservative man.

My parents got divorced and my dad moved out and my mom and myself and my sisters, we moved into a different part of Montgomery, Alabama. As I’m getting older and figuring out who I am as a human, as a young person, I think I really started to understand, like, my sexual orientation and learning about that around age nine.  I knew kind of theoretically that my mom was pretty supportive of, like, the LGBT community. I didn’t have any reservations, but I was always unsure about my dad.

Fast forwarding to age 14 where my mom and I are now living in Florida. And my dad is still in Alabama. My sisters have since moved out. I initially came out to friends saying, like, I’m a bisexual person and they were very supportive and open of that. And I had conversations with my mom. I remember we were sitting in a patio. My mom was smoking a cigarette. We just had, like, this heart to heart conversation about, you know, who I am and how I want to be in life. And her love and compassion is coming from, you know, fear of me, like, bad – something bad happening to me as a person, but also, like, wanting to be supportive of me as a person at the same time. And I really… I held onto that for, for many, many years.

Fast forwarding to 18 year old Wayne, I’m now… I’m now in college. And I think that’s where for the first time I was able to actually openly identify as a gay person. What’s important to know is that I was out to legitimately everyone in the world, except for my father. I eventually then moved on to graduate school at Iowa State, where I studied education. And then from there I’ve lived in Minnesota.

One of my former students, now friend, really close friend, we met almost weekly, if not weekly, for coffee conversations. Over a period of time, this person started to kind of, in a loving and very wholeheartedly way, you know, pressure me to say, “Like, Wayne, you know, you should come out… you should go out to your dad. You’re almost 30, you know, you’re, you’re gonna… you’re nearing 30 now.” And they did this for three years. I never did. I was… I was focused on other things. I was focused on my job. I was focused on a relationship. I was focused on really legitimately anything else besides that.

Over the summer of 2020, I was beginning a personal and professional transition to New York City where my partner has been living for the last couple of years, working at a local university. And I made the decision in February of 2020 to move. It was probably one of the most challenging times of my entire life. I… not only was I moving, but also navigating an impending pandemic, and then living in the twin cities St. Paul, Minneapolis, where lots of horrible racial injustices were happening, and lots of fear for my friends, for my community, for the world around me.

Now I’m a pretty open and transparent person when it comes to sharing things. But for whatever reason, I decided to write an email to my dad that I’m moving to New York City and… and this is why. I talked about it being a part of my, like, personal/professional journey and that it was an important part of my life.

There’s lots of different pieces that were not a part of that puzzle, one being that I’m moving for my now husband, which he didn’t know about just yet. I finally hit send. We had a conversation on the phone and he was very open and receptive. He was like, “Yeah, like, you’re going to get a job. It’s going to be amazing and you’re going to enjoy it.”

So now I’m moving to New York city on July 2nd, 2020. So I’m emotionally and physically, like, prepping myself up to go to the airport. Fully masked, ready… ready to go and truly one of the most life altering moments of my life, like, just getting on the airplane because there was no turning back.

I am continuing to connect with my friend who, again, my former student. We do FaceTime now because we can’t be in real life, and continuing to ask me like, “Wayne, you should come out to your dad.”

And I was like, “You know what? I know. I know, I know, I know,I know, I know.”

It was the end of July timeframe and I finally developed the gumption to come out to my dad, and very much like coming out to moving to New York City, I decided to draft an email. I was standing in the kitchen of our tiny New York City apartment, standing, like, drafting this email. I concluded the email, “If you want to have a conversation with me over the phone, I would be more than happy to do that.” And then I clicked send. And I waited.

He called me probably 10 minutes later. And as my… as my phone is ringing, I’m with Ryan, my partner, is standing right next to me and I’m like, “Well, here we go. There’s… there’s no going back!”

So we start talking and you know, the first thing that my father says is that there’s… nothing has changed. “There’s I… I’m not gonna love you any less. There’s… there’s nothing wrong with this relationship. I am still very proud of you. I’m still very supportive of everything that you’ve ever done in your life. And nothing is going to be different.” And I was shocked. Like I legitimately sobbed a little bit on the phone. And we talked and we… I talked about Ryan, again, my partner. I talked about our dog. I talked about in addition to moving to New York City, it wasn’t just for funsies – it was for legitimately, like, I’m moving because of my partner. And he was very open and responsive.

I now have this person that I can talk to about my… my partner and our dog. And he asks about both of us. And for the holidays, he sent our dog two sweaters and, like, asked, you know, Ryan, my partner to officiate their wedding and for me to be his best man and for our dog to be a ring bearer.  So, anyway, this is, like, all shocking to me.

I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome and I don’t take it for granted. And I’m very grateful for after, what, 16 years, being able to be authentic with my dad and to actually have this relationship that I’ve always wanted for, and that I’ve always longed for.

We don’t know how someone is going to react and how someone’s going to respond to something until we actually talk about it. If it’s a less than positive outcome, then at least we can say that we tried. I would always encourage people to do their best, to try to be open and honest with themselves, so that way they can try to be open and honest with others.

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