I’m From South Portland, ME.

by Craig Osterberg

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I was 15 years old when I came out to my parents in 1976. Actually, my 15-year-old boyfriend “confessed” to his parents about us, and I was outed in that way. My dad was a retired Marine Drill Instructor and when he “talked” to me about being gay, it was with his fists. I left home that night never to look back. It was years before anyone in my family would speak to me. And then it was just to tell me I am sick and breaking my parents’ hearts with my perverse lifestyle choice, and would definitely burn in Hell.

30 years later, my mom fell very ill and needed someone to take care of her. None of my straight relatives wanted to help. I had come of age during the height of the AIDS pandemic, and had witnessed first-hand the miracle of the extended family, and had seen the heart opening as virtual strangers extended more care and compassion to the gay community by stepping up and caring for the sick and dying. I seized the opportunity to spend time with Mom and to find a relationship there. Although my family had given up on me, I hadn’t given up on them. Mom moved in with me 4 years ago, and died at our home last Christmas time. I will never regret the decision to be present for Mom. I was afraid of what her attitudes of the past might bring to our life together, but soon learned we had missed so much of each others’ lives that we determined to live each day with love and acceptance.

Don’t give up believing in yourself. Don’t give up the hope and belief that you are whole and beautiful and perfect as you are. There will come a time when you are called to step up and return the gifts you have received from the universe, and having lived through the trauma and pain of growing up gay in a hate-filled world, you will find that your strength and courage will rise up for you to do the right thing against all odds.

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