I started out life just like every other country boy, I spent all my time covered in dirt and building stuff out of nothing, and Tonka… forget about it, I was all about the John Deere tractors. As I grew up, I became more involved in 4-H, I not only showed animals but also competed in the crafts division where I won many awards for sewing. I never thought it was weird, even though I knew I was one of the few guys that knew what a bobbin was in a town of 3,000. I also became quite the jock through junior high and into high school. So you can imagine when I finally put a word to how I was different–not the words I had been using: sensitive, polite, chivalrous, sweet… but rather homosexual–it crushed me. How could I, the farm and ranch boy, drum major, 4-H leader, science fair winner, hayfield working, UIL Academics participant, co-captain of the basketball team, captain of the tennis team, top of my class, youth Christian leader, all-American guy be… gay? Gay wasn’t something someone like me could be… or could it? No! No Way! There was no way I could be gay. I… I was just curious about other guys, but I liked girls. Totally liked girls. Well as you can tell denial was a river in Egypt to me, and the more I pushed that away the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself the more it got to where every time I drove I had to talk myself out of plowing my truck into that big oak tree, or every time I was alone with a knife not to slice my wrist open.
High school continued to progress and I was able to completely dissociate from part of who I was because as I said, gay wasn’t something I could be, and for sure wasn’t something that I was. I began to channel everything I had into one thing and one thing only: tennis. It was the one area of my life where it was all about who I made myself to be, not who I was naturally or who I was raised to be. Well, a severely broken leg took that dream away, and all scholarship offers disappeared like smoke in the wind. So I went to college 5 hours away from home because it was a good school and it was a place I could excel in academia. However, I slipped into the same routine as high school. Driving myself so hard to be the best at everything, and all the while suppressing who I really was, at least in part. Things continued like this until one day before work my sophomore year of college, I decided enough was enough, I was a shame to myself and my family, I had no right to live and made the decision to end my life. Obviously I failed but it wasn’t because I didn’t try. I had forgotten to sharpen my pocket knife and it wouldn’t cut easily enough. So I felt like I was even more of a failure, I couldn’t even kill myself right. More time went by and I fell into dating women then having sex with men. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, DC for an internship the spring of my junior year that I realized that no one really cared if I liked men. I was just some guy they saw on the street, I wasn’t a preconceived notion of who they thought I should be, I was who I was, nothing more, nothing less. It was there that I fell in love… He was exactly what I needed at that time, he taught me that being gay didn’t have to contradict everything else that I was. Being gay just meant that I was supposed to love another man for the rest of my life, not a woman. Those were some of the happiest moments of my life, moments spent with him.
I of course had to move back to Lubbock, TX to finish my undergrad at Texas Tech, and things ended between my first love and I. So I went right back into the closet, back to dating women, and back to just being with men sexually just to be with them, but nothing ever felt as good as they did when I was in his arms. So, I sulked and cried, and finally when I broke down and couldn’t make myself get out of bed, I started seeing a therapist. I always prided myself on my ability to take care of myself and be able to not only take care of my issues but the issues of my friends and family, so seeing a therapist was totally contradictory to who I viewed myself to be. But I knew something had to change, what I was doing and the man I was becoming was totally against everything I was raised to believe. I was to the point that I looked in the mirror and saw a stranger looking back at me, and I didn’t like the person he was. It is thanks to the amazing mental health professional I saw that I managed to pull myself together and graduate in the spring of 2007 to continue on to graduate school here at Texas Tech University.
Since meeting some incredible people, I’ve come out to my family who loves and supports me in every way even though they are still getting used to the idea that with two sons they are still potentially going to have a son-in-law. I’m finally mentally healthy and a happy man who happens to really like other guys. I have made some really great friends, friends who know all there is to know about me, and don’t think any less of me. I am set to graduate with my master’s degree in May, and move on with my life beyond Lubbock, Nocona, and probably Texas. I don’t plan on telling the whole town I grew up in any time soon, but if they find out, as my mother always said, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
I’m From Toccoa, GA. “I am 36 years old. I was a gay kid. I’m still a gay kid inside. So here is my truth for the readers. You are love. This is your very essence, and it is mine. It is the same for the people who hate us, for the dead, for the unborn. Love is our commonality. I have been to the deepest part of me and that’s all I see there. So let this message counter the ones, spoken and unspoken, that bombard you every day. I share this with my fullest heart.”
I’m From Mammoth, CA. “One of those guys I met that night was Scott. About two weeks later I went to his place one night, where for the next six weeks I spent the night cuddled up with him. We never kissed, or touched sexually, but we would just spend the night holding each other. And I remember staying up almost the entire first night thinking, nothing that feels this good could be that bad. Nothing that felt so natural, and so loving, could ever be against nature.”
I’m From Randallstown, MD. “At home, I was depressed and angry. I hated myself, my life, my family, my friends, everything possible. When Aaron and I ceased dating, I tried to kill myself on multiple occasions, but something always went wrong. In high school, I claimed the typical gay man’s panacea upon beginning the coming out process. I was ‘bisexual.’”