I attempted to come out of the closet the for the first time at eleven. I knew that I was a gay at a very young age and my parents should have as well because I danced around in my room to Madonna’s “Lucky Star“ until my record player broke. I would also kiss the album cover for thriller (this was when Michael Jackson was still black and had a nose). I was blissfully unaware at this point that this was a real problem for some people. It was no biggie to me, I just assumed that I would grow up, have boyfriends, go to dances and marry George Michael (before he was hideous).
It wasn’t until I was eleven that I started hearing the word “faggot” thrown around by fellow students and had my first run in with a religious wing-nut teacher who told me that I would burn in hell for the way I was. She liked to keep a copy of the bible on her desk in the classroom, which in hindsight I think was totally illegal. I never really knew what in the hell she was talking about until some friends of mine informed me that the teacher thought I was a “fag” and that the bible said I would be going to hell. Now, for most kids this would be rather traumatic but for me, but having not been raised by religious parents, it was the most insane thing that I had ever heard. My teacher must have had some sort of mental problem if she believed in such nonsense.
As word began to spread, students started calling me faggot, pushing me around and one kid even kicked me in the face, which wasn’t hard to do because I was about three feet tall until I hit puberty. My response to this, at eleven, was not to go into hiding. I had to say something so I could be exactly who I was supposed to be and then everything would be alright and people would leave me alone. I decided that I would enlist the help of my parents, who could certainly sort this whole thing out and would know just what to do. I stayed up late, very upset, trying to construct some sort of script in my head so I could properly get out what I needed to say. Saying “I’m gay” is not something that is easy for an eleven year old, especially when I had no idea what the hell that even meant. I knew I dug dudes and not girls but that is where my comprehension of the situation ended.
I woke my parents up at midnight and kept them up for an hour, trying to get the words out but I just couldn’t say it. All I could hear was “faggot” in my head and this image of the devil (in tight red pants), pitchforks and fire that my teacher warned me about. An image that was equal parts terrifying AND exciting as I was a very dramatic child. After endless questions and me hysterically crying at this point my poor exhausted mother asks me in her sleepy and somewhat annoyed voice:
“Is this because you’re short?” My height was a real issue for me at the time but I will save that story for another time.
I realized that my parents had absolutely no idea what I was trying to say and if I had dropped “I’m gay” to them at that point the evening would have taken a very odd turn and they could potentially have flipped out. I just assumed that they knew what I was trying to say, that they would help me through this and when I realized that they were not mind readers, I clammed up. It was then that I decided to keep it as quiet as I could, be “normal,” date girls, stay under the radar and vowed to never try and come out again.
I waited until I was 19 to come out to my parents and it was a long, miserable and depressing eight years. I finally told my mom in a Wal-Mart parking lot which was way harder for me to handle than the actual coming out part because I really hate Wal-Mart. My mother seemed concerned for about ten minutes, gave me the please be safe speech and that was the end of it. My father really didn’t give a crap about my gayness, he just wished that I would be happy and that I would be better with money. And from then on they have been the two most open and accepting people that I have ever met.
I realize that this is not always the case for other gay people and that their situations may not be as pleasant but the point of this is to trust your family. Unless you are being raised by the Westboro Baptist Church, live in Russia or Jamaica and will end up in some sort of danger if you come out, JUST DO IT! It takes knowing a gay person and certainly having a gay relative to change the hearts and minds of those who may not be so friendly to our people but you won’t know it if you don’t give them a shot.