My name is John. I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah.
One of the first times I encountered anything to do with LGBT+ issues was when I was 10. I was watching the news with my mother, as I often did around that time after dinner. And this was around the time when Prop 8 was going on. I remember there’d been some lesbians on the screen. These women, they had short hair, and I know it might sound a bit ridiculous, but I remember my mother making a few kind of pointed comments about that being unnatural.
None of these issues were really discussed. Nothing to do with sexuality or sex in general for the most part. And that’s kind of how things were and how it’s about, I’d say, 12 going on 13. That’s kind of when my body, I’d say, was starting to go through some changes. So that meant I turned to a lot of internet forums about what was going on with me.
I remember eventually coming across… almost embarrassed to admit it, but I was coming… I saw the word gay. And it was kind of like, okay, what is that? On a site… on an adult site, and I clicked it. And it ended up being a lot better for me as I was a lot more into it. And I was just thinking, Okay, what’s going on here?
That’s kind of going on age 13, age 14 for me, but I kind of started – it started to come to the acceptance that, Okay. I am gay. A couple years later, so after I finished primary school, when I was 12, I met a… started making new friends. And two of them became important, wery important to me later, I grew pretty close to them over some time and a little bit later, they eventually came out as gay themselves.
I remember coming out to those two friends of mine, specifically around when I was 15, this – they’re the first person I ever mentioned any of this to, by that point, to them because it felt like a safe bet for me. However, I was still very much in the closet, especially with my family, because as I mentioned before, especially my mother, she didn’t even react that well to my friends coming out.
This has put a lot of strain upon me and a lot – and on my relationship with my family. And I think that’s part of there were a lot of fights,
I’m not always calm and collected. Sometimes I have a bit of a temper. And I definitely had more of one as a teenager. So I remember when I was about 16 and a half, after a pretty stressful day, it was a school night for sure. We’re having a fight about some issue out there. I can’t even remember what it was at this point.
I essentially screamed that “I’m gay” to my mother and father. That’s kind of it.
The response was “No, you’re not.” And I honestly… I was floored essentially.
Just kind of had to go along the lines saying, “Yes I am.”
And then it was… then… then essentially the follow-up was, “Well, how can you know?”
So I said something along the lines of, “I just do.”
And they said,” Well, how do you know if you happen to have had any interaction with people?” To be honest, I didn’t really know how to respond to that.
And I just had to say, “Well, I am gay, I’ve known for awhile.” And it just kind of got awkward. And I eventually just had to leave it at that. And I went upstairs – I went upstairs to.. and went to bed. I kept waiting for one of my parents to bring it up because it’s not as though the conversation never happened.
I remember my father driving me back home from somewhere in the city I just kind of went, “So I came out a few days ago.” And his response to me was that things hadn’t really changed. He seemed as though he kind of entertained the idea, but he said for my mother’s sake, that… do not speak about it again. I finished school and I started university and never brought up the issue again.
Around the spring of 2019 was… that was a pretty difficult time for me. It culminated in a lot of self-harm and an unsuccessful suicide attempts. Luckily for me, and I hope for those who do care about me, I didn’t succeed. But I did succeed in injuring myself pretty badly in a way that leaves… that leaves some marks on you.
So about one month later after I finished my term and the summer started, I saw my father again for the first time since Christmas after what I just mentioned was a pretty grueling spring. I definitely was a bit less resilient than I might’ve normally been and I’d received some pretty poor news about some things that have been going on in my life that was partially as a result of me being depressed during the spring. Led to me having a mental breakdown with my father and the place we were staying out at the time. And it was not very pretty.
Unfortunately for me, some of my self-harm left lasting scars that he did see as well, which led to a much more in-depth conversation than what we were having initially. So that for me led to a revisiting of my coming out to them. He apologized pretty profusely for not being more on my side at the time. And it’s how I learned that one of the reasons he was a lot less accepting than even I had… than I had hoped was that my parents had to be a united front. He didn’t want to… he didn’t want to be the good parent and my mother the bad parent. And as it turned out, as attitudes had started to… had changed a lot. And people, at least around my father, around my parents were more comfortable admitting who they were. That kind of led to moments with them, even being able to accept them into their own home to have social gatherings, for example. And that’s at least led to, as my father put it, some softening of my mother’s view. As in she just… It’s no longer about right or wrong. It’s about me, at least, being happy… both healthy and happy is what he wanted. And that was honestly a pretty cathartic moment for me knowing that things could… that there was… things could be better than how they had been. That’s finally how things have progressed at least a little bit further along.
It definitely led to a change, at least, I think both for them and for me, for them. And at least finally learning to look at me for all of who I am, rather than just the surface. And for me being able to – as I said, things aren’t perfect, but for me it’s a sense of freedom as well that, even if things hadn’t changed, maybe just the fact that we revisited the issue, I feel… I feel a lot less held down by it. And no matter what happens now, I’m comfortable with who I am, and I’m comfortable with my parents knowing as well that I am who I am as well.