I’m From Pikeville, KY.

by Bear Justice

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

Where to begin… I was raised in a very religious family (Old Regular Baptist), where my grandfather was a preacher. From an early age I was told that any deviation from what was considered the “norm” was not only wrong, but would condemn me to hell. So as I grew to manhood, I tried to crush any feeling I had for men, but as you know, we can’t change something so fundamental about yourself. I had several encounters as a teen, that always made me feel like I was immoral, and something was wrong with me.

When I was 22, I was in a really horrible auto accident. I lost my dad, and ended up in a wheelchair for almost a year. When I got out of the chair, I started dating the daughter of one of my grandfathers’ friends that preached in a nearby town. I feel really bad about this part of my story. She was a sweet, beautiful girl, and she fell in love with me. I asked her to marry me, trying to do what was expected of me. In the meantime I collected a rather large sum of money from the auto accident, and moved to Lexington, Kentucky. On the nights that I knew that she was in church, or prayer group, I started to go to local gay bars. She followed me one night, and of course the cat was out of the bag. It broke her heart, broke my family’s heart, and I cut myself off from my family. As I got more confident, and comfortable with who I was, I reconnected with some of my family. Some good reunions and some bad. I learned that I could be who I needed to be, and that the families you create from friends and loved ones are the ones that sustain you. I have a wonderful relationship with my extended family, and after a really long painful process of growth, I am a happy, fully out, and confident gay man.

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