Hi. My name’s Courtney Walton. I’m from Newark, Delaware.
I was a sophomore in high school – this is 2002 – and my family and I were driving back from my cousin’s basketball game. It was my father and my mom, my aunt, my brother and I. And we were, you know, it’s a long car ride so we were listening to music. I have always been a fan of music so I was the one in charge of, you know, putting on what we were listening to. It being 2002, we had – Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped” album had just recently come out and we’re listening to that.
We got to one of the songs, “Beautiful,” and I just remember, like, this moment where my dad, you know, brought up how good of a singer she was and how he really liked this song. But he also referenced the video that had come out a few weeks prior and I guess he saw it. And in the video, there happened to be two guys kissing in the video.
He was like, “Yeah it’s a really good song but then she had two guys kissing in it. Yuck.” And there I am the backseat just being like, Wait a minute. What? Back then, you know, being 15 years old and still and not really coming to terms with, you know, my sexuality, I really didn’t speak up for myself then. So it kinda just made me be like, Oh wait, wait. Is this… will they be okay with me being gay? I don’t know.
And then I remember being 26 and really just wanting to finally get it out there and come out to my family. At this point I was out to all my friends, co-workers, the – my immediate family was going to be the last ones to know. So I gather them all together in a room one night. I remember just being super nervous and – but just ready to get it off my chest.
And I finally told them, like, “Hey, I’m gay. I just want what you guys to know since, you know, I’m 26 years old and I want to feel closer to you guys and this is a huge part of my life.”
They’re like, “Yeah, we already know. You haven’t brought a girl home in 25 years.” My family were like, “Why did you wait so long to tell us?”
And I looked at my dad and I explain to him, I was like, “Yeah, Dad, you made a remark about how she had two guys in the video kissing and you said ‘yuck.’”
He was like, “I don’t remember that happening.”
And I was like, “Yeah, like, you probably didn’t mean anything by it but for me it was my entire world. And, you know, that’s the reason why it did take so long because I didn’t know.”
And there wasn’t too much resistance but I think they this slowly understood and they apologized and were like, “Well, you know, I’m sorry that, you know, we ever made you feel that way.” It was one of those moments where I was just finally happy to get that off my chest and let them know how I was feeling.
Fast forward a couple of years. It’s 2018 now and I’m getting ready to see Christina Aguilera for the second time. I saw her once back in 2007 but I was still in the closet and, you know, it’s just a different experience when you’re finally out and proud. We go to Atlantic City to see Christina Aguilera and I’m there with my boyfriend and it’s one of these moments that I’m just so excited for. She gets on stage to do her encore. One of the songs is “Beautiful” and everything just kind of came full circle for me.
Representation definitely matters and had this you know straight woman, you know, not put these two gay guys in the video kissing, I never would have seen that, I never would have felt included, my dad never would have seen it and we never would have actually had that moment that has, you know, led me to where I am today. And I think it’s important that, you know, our allies, whether it’s your family, your friends, just be aware of how you’re – what you’re saying and, you know, that small flippant comment could change their lives drastically.
And I think it’s just important to be aware and also important for – you know, I wasn’t the only one in the car. It was my mom, my brother, and my aunt. It’s also important to be an ally. Stand up if you hear something that isn’t right.