I’m From Scranton, PA.

by Rick

Satellite overhead image of Pennsylvania from Google Earth 2022

It was Christmas Eve 2002, and I was visiting home from college in Philadelphia, where I was openly gay. I had decided that it was time for me to share that information with my family, but naturally I was unsure how they would react.

What stands out most about that day in the mid-Atlantic was the snowstorm that would quickly turn into a blizzard. I remember walking over to midnight mass at the Catholic church a block away with my brother and being surprised at how much snow had already fallen. When we got back home, around 1:30am, we were the only ones awake. I told him there was something I wanted him to know: I’m gay. He just hugged me, said he already figured, and loved me no matter what. I asked him what he thought mom or dad would say, and he said he thought they would tell me how much they loved and supported me too. I went to bed – way into the early morning hours, determined to tell my mom and dad on Christmas day, no matter what.

It turned out that I awoke the next morning to find that the blizzard was so bad, the Governor had declared a state of emergency and shut down the highways and roads. As a result, my extended family wouldn’t be able to come for Christmas dinner; Christmas was effectively canceled! It also meant that I was stuck inside all day with my mom and dad and with nowhere to escape!

The day went by slowly, and I was waiting for just the right time. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get up the nerve to say those words “I’m gay” to my parents. Before I knew it, it was late at night and my parents said they were going to bed and they’d see me in the morning. They went upstairs. I started sweating, because I had resolved to tell them and just get it over with. It was now or never.

I knocked on their door and asked if I could crawl into bed with them. I could tell they were puzzled, and maybe a little worried. I told them how much I loved them, how I didn’t want to ever hurt them or disappoint them. My mom asked, “What’s the matter?” I couldn’t say it. I was speechless. I was in the middle of them on the bed. I grabbed their hands. All I could say was, “I love you so much.” I started crying. Dad asked what was wrong, if I was in trouble, if I was sick. I said, “no”, in between my tears. Mom asked, “Are you gay?” and I broke down sobbing, saying, “Yes, yes, yes”. Without blinking, my mom said, “It’s okay, dear, we love you no matter what.” Dad quickly followed suit, tenderly saying how proud he and my mom were of me and how they couldn’t ask for a better son.

In the end, I was the one who was crying, and mom and dad were fine! I had built it up in my head, into this dramatic revelation, when all that my family did was tell me – again – how much they loved and supported me. It was a wonderful feeling to be free – finally! – of the secret that had so weighed me down and to be open about myself with these people I loved so dearly.

I will never forget that Christmas blizzard of 2002.

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