Barton’s story will take you on an up-and-down journey, beginning with optimism…
In this chat room, I met this professor. He became a very influential person in my life. I was excited about this relationship I had with him, and I began talking with friends about him.
…continuing with sadness…
I came home one day…I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to be done. I took 17 pills and I attempted suicide. On the way to the hospital I said, “Mom, I want you to see me as your child and not as this gay thing that needs to be fixed.” She said, “You can bring someone home. But I’m not going to let them into my house, I’m not going to let them sit at the dinner table and eat with me. You can be gay. But you’re not going to sit at a table with me.”
…and ending with hope…
My mom, about four months ago, called me from Portland, Oregon, where she had just gone to a drag show. She comes from a very conservative town and the idea of drag terrifies her. And she called me, laughing really hard and really excited about this thing that she had done, like, “Okay, I’m going to try and accept my son in this really strange way by going to a drag show in Portland, Oregon, when he’s in Bloomington, Indiana! That to me was bridging that three year gap that we hadn’t talked about it.
Continue Reading to watch Barton’s story.
I’m Barton, I’m from Lebanon, Ohio. I’m currently living in Bloomington, Indiana. When I was 16 years old, I used to participate in the gay community through the Internet. And I would go in chat rooms a lot and talk to various people of various ages. In this chatroom, I met a professor who was a professor at University of Cincinnati and he became very influential person in my life.
I was excited about this relationship I had with him and I began talking to friends about it. But a friend who I had told confided to another friend, who told a teacher at my Christian school who told the administrators. And one day I was sitting in Bible Class having a discussion about feminism ironically, and I got pulled out of class and taken to my administrator’s office and they began asking me lots of questions, beating around the bush about this affair that I was having with this older man. It eventually came out that’s why I was in the office and I had to seek counseling immediately, otherwise I would be kicked out of school and they were going to tell my parents. They called my parents and my parents had to come pick me up from school. Immediately that evening I had to go into Christian counseling. In that process, my counselor encouraged me to become more okay with myself, kind of like my mentor had, this guy I had this relationship with. And through that I became very sure and confident in my sexuality. So ironically, Christian counseling really helped me come to terms with being gay, ironically. But an important part of this is that my parents and I never talked about it. They never–they put me into counseling thinking I was fixed and we weren’t going to have another conversation about that ever again.
I was in Physics class my senior year of high school and I hated Physics. I did so bad, I got a D, it was my very first D I ever, ever got, it was the only D I ever received in any class. I came home one day and I bawled my eyes out and I said, “I’m done. I’m done having this conversation with myself, I’m done having this conversation with other people about anything, I just don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want to be done.” And I took 17 pills and I attempted suicide. And my mom came home and I said, “Mom, this is what I did.” And she took my to the hospital and on the drive I was like, “Mom, I want you to see me as your child, not as this gay thing that needs to be fixed.”
And we started talking about the possibility of me ever being in a relationship and she said to me getting out of the car, “You can bring someone home but I’m not going to let them in my house, I’m not going to let them sit at the dinner table and eat with me. You can be gay but you’re not going to sit at a table with me.”
There was this moment through this whole situation in which I was able to forgive her when, they gave me charcoal to drink to get the medicine out of my stomach and when I was drinking the charcoal, she asked me to say something positive. Because it was so hard to drink the charcoal because charcoal is really disgusting, it’s liquid charcoal, you’re supposed to make fires out of it, not put it in your belly. And every time I drank I had to say something that I loved or that I appreciated. And she held my hand that entire time and I was crying and I was so angry with her. And after that situation we didn’t talk about me being gay for two more years and we still don’t really talk about it but my mom about 4 months ago called me from Portland, Oregon, where she had just got done going to a drag show. And she comes from a really conservative town and the idea of drag just terrifies her and she called me laughing really hard and really excited about this thing that she had done, like she was like, “Okay, I’m going to try to accept my son by this really strange way of going to a drag show in Portland, Oregon, when he’s in Bloomington, Indiana, and calling him about it. That to me was bridging that 3-year gap in which we hadn’t talked about it. And another thing it made me realize is that she could never talk to my dad about it. There are certain things in which the dynamics she’s in, the social circumstances she’s in, she’s not allowed to accept me for who I am because other people around her won’t let her accept me but she’s trying in her own way to figure out how to do that. This is the phone conversation about the drag show really showed me for the first time that she is attempting and that hopefully someday I can take a boyfriend home with me to Thanksgiving and sit down at the dinner table and have mashed potatoes. So I have a little bit of hope in that, that someday I’ll be able to be thankful for that too.