Hi, my name is Liam King. I’m from Bar Harbor, Maine.
It all kind of started with my mother’s reinforcement of me as a child and before I understood the social constructs of what being gay was or being straight was. When I would get called a faggot in school or just harassed or called a girl or something like that in school, you know, she was always the one that was reinforcing that like, Hey, like, that’s okay. Do not worry. Like what they’re doing isn’t okay. But what you’re doing is okay. And like, that’s… you don’t have to feel bad for that.
There was this one time in the car we had just dropped someone off. And I think she kind of saw that I was trying to be something else in front of this friend, and she pulled over and she just kind of looked at me in the rearview mirror and just said to me that she needed me to be true to myself. And she just… just didn’t say too much or anything like that. And I just immediately knew what she was talking about.
Fast forward to my – the end of my first year of college. I had gone to two different schools in – one in Maine, one in Florida. I was the definition of lost.
And then a friend of mine that I knew from Bar Harbor kind of could see that I was a little lost. And so they invited me to stay with them and work with them. That’s how I got to Florida. And there, they could just tell that I was, I think, a little lost and so they had me come down there.
And I went down there and it was just kind of a culture shock and I didn’t – I wasn’t comfortable. I felt just even more out of place than I had felt before. My friend took me aside one night and… she actually said that I was being kind of weird. And it was true.
I eventually just blurted out, you know, “I’m gay and I’m not really sure how to handle this.”
That’s when she started telling me, you know, like, “Hey. First of all everyone’s gay. I know where you’re from. There’s not a lot of gay people, but like you’re in South Florida and there’s a lot of gay people here. And not only that, but the straight people here don’t care.” I realized that I could control the narrative of my life and how – what people knew me as.
It was the first time I went to a gay club ever. I was able to walk in without looking behind me or like, you know, thinking, you know, I was going to get in trouble basically. And I was… I was meeting – even the people that I wasn’t interested in or that didn’t share my sexuality, I still was getting along with them better because I was being who I was. And so I was living my life without any inhibitions, basically.
I left Del Ray, coming back for the summer to Maine. And I was this new person that was completely different from the person that had left. So I came back and fell into like the kind of classic gay culture of like, Oh, well I have to be this like Adonis person. And so I started working out a lot and I was – had a very unhealthy mental view of myself, even when I was in the best shape, even though – like, the peak of working out, I still was like, just kind of like, You know, people are only going to like me if I look this way, so you better, you know, you better keep it up.
It was years, I would… I had started traveling more and I, I kind of, I got into debt. I put – I bought a car that I couldn’t afford. And all because I thought that it was what I was supposed to do to be successful.
I ended up in California in Santa Cruz where I was staying with a high school friend of mine. And I had created this – or like fell into this friend group and we were partying a lot. You know, hooked up with a guy in Cal- in San Francisco and I’d driven back to Santa Cruz. And I was, like, just getting in to Santa Cruz when I got this phone call and it was my mom.
And she was just telling me, you know, like, “Hey, like I have, I have breast cancer and I’m going to be starting radiation.” And it was just literally, it was like those movies where a bomb goes off and you just hear, like, that ringing in your ears. I just suddenly felt that I was doing was so selfish and just nonproductive to my own life anyway. Like I was just wasting time, you know, and just fooling around.
So I drove all the way back to Maine. And I remember once I got there, me and my mom started to have more of these conversations of like what we used to have, only they were less subtle. I think I was helping her clean one of our rentals. And she’s very good at bringing up stuff when you would least expect it.
I was talking about something to do in Florida or California. Something that I thought was so great. And she kind of put me in my place a little bit and just said, “You know, like, none of this matters. If you judged people” I think is what she said, “on what you’re judging yourself on, you would be the biggest asshole, you know?” And I kind of like – that’s when I was like, Oh yeah, I didn’t, I never judged people the way I judge myself. And like, why is that?
We stopped doing what we were doing. We just kind of sat down and she was just like… like, “You’re getting to the point where I’m actually worried about you because you’re losing yourself in this bullshit. I couldn’t disagree with her and that was kind of an eye-opening conversation.
So after that conversation, I was more conscious of how I was acting and what I was paying attention to. I became more friendly to myself and I got a better relationship with myself and with how I looked and I wasn’t so hard on myself anymore. And that was when I kind of like took it easy on the gym and I wasn’t so obsessed all the time.
She beat cancer, which was great. And it was just like the icing on the cake too, you know, because we were having very existential conversations at that time. I feel that I’ve cultivated a life for myself that is exactly what it’s supposed to be like right now. And it’s literally all because, you know, I had someone there for me that understood me before I understood myself.
My relationship with my mom now is… is starting to come to a close because now she’s terminally ill and I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the things that she’s done for me and my family. And it’s just one of those stories that I know I wouldn’t have been okay without that happening. Now I know that I won’t have that for like a lot longer. So it’s just one of those things that will never forget. And just like that is just literally, like I said, like just crucial to like who I am now. And I wouldn’t be here without her strength, you know? And I feel like I’m strong because she is.