My name is Grant and I’m gay. Nowadays, that’s really easy for me to say, but it wasn’t always. Growing up in small town USA is not the ideal location for a gay boy to make friends and grow into himself. I grew up in a trailer park in Michigan and was very feminine and flamboyant my whole life. In school, I was always called a “girl” until they learned the word “gay” around 5th grade, then that was me. In my neighborhood, the neighbors all knew, or thought they knew, that I was gay. They would always look at me like I was some sort of sickness that was pervading their perfect existence. In a trailer park for the love of God. I didn’t care or let it bother me, though, because I had a lot of friends (mostly girls) who were always fun to hang out with.
Of course, my mother loved me and my family was all very close and not everyone in the trailer park was as mean or scared of me. One neighbor, Mr. Holland, always paid my brother and me to work at his house doing this and that. He was really nice and fun to both of us.
Living in a trailer park, all the houses were really close together and I could see into the homes of the trailers around me. When I was in about 6th grade, what is that, 11 or 12, I was in my room and I looked out the window and Mr. Holland was standing naked in his window. He was looking right at me. I looked away right away, embarrassed at what I had just seen, but at the same time I was curious. He waved me over and I went right away. To save time, that was my first sexual experience, when I was 12 and the other man was at least 30. I didn’t know what was going on. As soon as it was over, I was traumatized. I knew that what I had just done was terribly wrong and I started crying. I ran out the door and hid while I calmed down.
I’m not telling this story to reemphasize the radical Christian view that gays are synonymous with pedophiles. I do not believe that to be true, and as a gay adult I can say for certain most of the gay men I know have no interest in children, this is just my experience. Looking back on it now, I think of what a horrible mistake I made. When I got home that day, my mom was playing a game with my family and asked where I had been. I said no where, just out. The subject was never breached again. I was too scared to tell her what had been done to me because I was not ready to come out to her as gay. I didn’t want the stigma to follow me all through high school and I didn’t want the bullies to be right.
When I look back on that day, I am filled with regret. If I had not been scared of what my family would have said, I may have told her what had happened to me. I don’t even know where I would find the man who did this to me now, there is no justice I can bring him to, and if I did, what would come of it? If I said I was raped as a child by another man and now I am living an openly gay life, who would care? It would reinforce their stereotypes of what they believe the gays to be. I am telling you all this story for one purpose: If you are gay and live a normal life with normal friends, please come out. By coming out we can break these stereotypes and prevent children like myself from being afraid to come out when something like this happens to them. I now live an out and proud life and am in a relationship. My whole family knows about me and all of my friends, and I hope that when they hear a gay slur, they stop, think of me, and yell at the person who said it. One by one, we can change the way this country thinks. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the horrors of growing up gay from happening to another generation.