My name is Larry Peterson, I’m originally from Kansas, I’ve lived all over the United States, but I’ve been Delaware since 1980, so Delaware is definitely home now.
In my outreach and I even call it a ministry, working with gay married men, I have learned that the catalyst for middle-aged men coming out was often the death of another man that was close to them. For my partner it was his brother, for me it was my brother-in-law, frequently it’s a father. And in May my father-in-law died and I had kind of an emotional breakdown and awareness I wasn’t going to live my life the way I had up until then. And I read John McNeil’s “The Church and the Homosexual” that summer but the aha moment I guess was getting on the Internet and learning that there was an Internet group for married men that were bisexual or gay. I joined it and in a couple of days I realized, “Hey, that’s me!” There really are other men that feel like I do. And that completely changed my life and started me on a gay trail.
So my life went from living as a straight man married with two children, to now being completely out. I’m out at my church, I’m an ordained Elder as a gay man, I’m out at the University of Delaware, I’m out in the Democratic Party, so I’m about as out as I guess one can get. So it all happened within a year that I was out. And my wife asked me to wait a year before I came out publicly so she had a chance to kind of devote to live or relate to it, understand it. Unfortunately when a married man comes out it tends to drive the wife into a close of her own. And I was blessed to have a wonderful wife, I just saw her this morning, she’s very happily re-married but we’re still good friends. And both of my kids were wonderfully supportive.
My daughter was visiting and we were at church and she went in to use my computer. And we were having our very first gathering of the Internet group that I had created in Baltimore. And I had printed out the bios of each of the guys that said they were coming so that we could share them and know who each of these men were. And Martha read them. So when we came home from church, she knew because mine was there, it was one of them. So my wife had agreed that whenever I came out to one child, we’d come out to both. So it was just happenstance that my son called that day and said–he was in New York, an attorney in New York–and he said, “I’m going to be home next weekend.”
So Martha said, “I want to be here when you come out to him.”
So we’re all sitting at the kitchen table and it’s very serious and I’m talking about about halfway through my sharing he gets this great, big, huge shit-eating grin on his face and I’m thinking, “What in the world is going on?”
And when I finished, he got up and walked around and said, “Dad, this doesn’t make a difference at all.”
And I said, “Well, what was that great big grin about?”
He said, “I thought this meeting was you were telling me you were dying” because he knew I had just had some kind of a test and he thought, “Hell, he’s only gay.”