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Coming Out Stories

Coming Out

I was raised in the United Methodist Church. I was married and had a  son. In 1984 at the age of 39, I went to college and then seminary.  While in seminary in 1993 I fell in love with a woman. In 1994 I  divorced my husband. J. and I had a long distant relationship firing my  ministry. After I retired our relationship began to come to an end. I  finally came out in 2015 at the ad of 70. On Feb. 8, 2016 I moved to St.  Petersburg, FL. On June 16 I met a lesbian who happened to live in my  building. I knew when I saw her she was the one. We talked and dated and  on Aug. 17, 2016 we were married in Cuchara, Colorado. Europe’s family  had garnered to celebrate Eunice’s 80th birthday. We even had a  honeymoons cabin behind the house where family was staying. We spent a  week there. We are very happy and very much in love. It is possible at  the age of 71 and 80 to find the love of your life?!!!


Coming Out Stories

Rural Indiana, 18 years ago

Growing up I suspected I was different when I was very young. I can  remember vividly my dad mad over something trivial and screaming in my  face til it was covered with his saliva and threatened me with death and  to be buried in the back yard at age 7 after he had busted my nose.  Later he continually pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do. I was  continually attacked by him on a regular basis and it seemed to happen  more so after hearing a commotion downstairs and when I went to check he  had my mother in the bathtub smacking her head off of it. They  separated for a short time and then got back together. He never hit her  again but it seemed all his rage was then passed to me. Setting on the  floor watching Saturday mourning cartoons in my underwear he came home  upset again. Not a word was said. I have two other siblings. Each only a  year apart. He grabbed me by the hair and pulled me from the ground  feet dangling while he shook me by the hair screaming that I needed to  clean the house. These are just examples. Later in life since I couldn’t  do arts, musicals etc. (Got beat over a grease musical in which I got a  lead role in.) Because it wasn’t manly or interfered with football  which I was forced to play all through my school years. I started  experimenting with alcohol and other things. And then had a break down  at 17. I had gotten in trouble while running around with two other  outcasts who happened to be girls. We had taken golf carts from the  local golf club and played bumper cars late at night. During this time I  had an epiphany. There was nothing I could do to change the fact I was  gay. I cried, prayed, my face went paralyzed temporarily on one side  (bells Palsy) stress induced.  I later confided in a friend. And it felt  so good. I however made a mistake and told a girl who had a tendency to  tell everything ever told to her. The next day the whole school knew.  This school was your typical small town football school with no mixed  culture. We had one black girl who was raised by white parents and she  was harassed and called racist slurs. Next thing I know I’m plunged head  first into a battle field. That first day of getting outed I fought. I  beat the kid badly after class. He said before the altercation he was  going to “catch me on a backroad and slit my throat”. Things like that  continued for a good while and now life is slowing down. I’m just ready  for comfort.


Coming Out Stories

Black Boy Free: My Coming Out Story

Pierrot Obi, 25, singer-songwriter, London.

I was born in Northern Italy, in Central Reggio Emilia; we moved to the  very outskirts of Reggio when I was 8, to an in-the-middle-of-nowhere  type of town called Campagnola Emilia; to this day, Campagnola is the  place I call “hometown”.

I’m the first of three, born in a very strict and poor Nigerian family. I  always knew I was different; to be quite frank, I thought I was pretty  normal until I was told that, in fact, I was different. To me, it was  normal to prefer having girlfriends, playing dress up. My only guy  friends, where the ones I would kiss under the slide. As far as I can  remember, I was always physically attracted to boys. My very first crush  was on a cartoon character from an old Japanese anime. I didn’t have a  name for what I was feeling inside, until, one day, a classmate of mine  came up to me and asked me “is it true that you’re a faggot?”; I must  have been 9. If I recall correctly, I went straight to the teacher and  asked her “Miss, what does “faggot” mean? “. I can’t remember what was  her answer.

I was relentlessly and mercilessly bullied for most of my school life; I  was an easy target, the only black and flamboyant kid. From the minute I  hopped on the morning bus to school, up until I got home in the  afternoon, it was a daily Calvary. I used to get pushed around, thrown  things at, chanted at; any action you associate with bullying, I  probably went through it. One time, I’ll never forget, I was part of the  school musical and at the end of the show I came out for my bows; this  guy, one of my most avid bullies, came to my ear, as I was taking my  bow, and whispered “you die, you faggot”. I didn’t react, I never said  anything, I never defended myself. My only defense mechanism was to  pretend I wasn’t there, my brain would shut off and I would convince  myself that that was not happening to me.

By the time I got to high school, I was basically a recluse. I didn’t go  out, I didn’t socialize much. I was mostly in the classroom, church and  home. Home life was just as problematic. I was on the receiving end of a  childhood filled with physical, verbal and psychological abuse from  both my parents. My parents were very young and inexperienced when they  had me. As far as I’m concerned, my childhood was loveless; what I can  mainly remember were the daily beatings, the yelling, the verbal abuse,  the violence. I ran away from home 3 times; the third time, the police  got involved, took me back home and convinced me that, if I really  wanted to leave, I had to wait until I turned 18. I believe my parents  always knew I was gay, but in a Nigerian family homosexuality is a big  No-No; so the fact that their first male child was gay, needless to say  that they didn’t take it well. I didn’t tell them though, they simply  found my collection of gay porn in the computer. “you can’t be gay,  because gays go to hell” was my mum’s opinion on the matter; “I won’t  allow you to be a faggot in my house” was my father’s. I was 14 by then  but they didn’t know that I had been sexually active since I was 12.

I was 12, he was 28, but I told him I was 17. Looking back, I was  looking to fill the void my whole life created in me. I did not care if  it was coming from a complete stranger I had met at the swimming pool,  all I wanted was to be loved, to be held.

As soon as I finished high school, I moved as far and as quickly as I  could to London. I wanted my own space, I wanted to be on my own. I  wanted to become a professional singer, I wanted to be happy. I knew  that the only way I could be happy was to leave my hometown, and so I  did. But that’s when things down-spiralled almost out of control. All  the issues that I failed to deal with in my childhood, they all jumped  at me at once and I was not ready for it. Depression and anxiety became  my daily companions; I have attempted suicide 3 times since I moved to  London; because of my lifelong need to be loved I got into toxic  relationships that, by the time they ended, left me lonelier, sadder,  more broken.

Luckily, I found friends along the way who loved me dearly. I found the  strength to come out to them and they’ve accepted me with love, and I’m  so thankful for that. They pushed me to seek help, which is what I did.  Fast forward to the present time, I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline  Personality Disorder, which allowed me to start therapy, get on  medications and to begin my recovery.

I’m just at the beginning of my recovery. I’ve come to terms with the  fact that life is tough. Life is like a wind: sometimes it blows against  you, other times it blows in your direction. It’s all about what you  make of those moments, it’s all about never giving up on yourself. We  are alive; we have the utmost privilege to be here now, to be alive. It  is our gift back to The Creator to make the most out of it.

I’m learning to put myself first, I’m learning to love myself. I’m  nowhere near fixed, I’m still working on bettering my relationships with  my parents, who have shown the desire to redeem themselves and to make  it right now. I’m learning the immense power of forgiveness, the peace  it gives you. There’s still so many questions I have, I don’t know what  will be of me tomorrow; but today: I am trying
I deserve peace. I deserve to be happy. I am ready to be happy.


Coming Out Stories

Out At Age 78

In and after high school I dated girls, and at about age 20 I entered a  strict religious community and took vows of poverty, chastity and  obedience. During those years I had doubts about my sexuality, but  honored the vows. After leaving the community, a man whom I knew asked  me if I was gay, and I responded that I was a 42-year-old virgin. He  said if I wanted to do something about that to give him a call, and I  did. Later I met and married an amazing woman, and after more than 20  years of marriage, we decided to separate, and later divorced. When the  horrible massacre of 49 gay young people at the Pulse Nightclub in  Orlando happened, I finally admitted to myself that I was gay, and came  out to my former spouse and the world.


Coming Out Stories

Coming Out to My Crush

Here’s the backstory: Ever since I was young I always pictured myself  with boys, you could say I was as straight as a line. But one day in 6th  Grade I was in line with my best friend. She was so sweet and nice and  was just an all around good person. That’s when I realized something  that even surprised me. I totally got butterflies when I was around her  and I thought she was the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. I stared  at her as she talked to me. I’m pretty sure I had my mouth open. When  we went to lunch one day  we sat down at our usual spot together. “Happy  Pride Month.” She randomly said (it was around June 3rd), mind you I  discovered I was bi a few months back. Did I make it that obvious that I  liked her or something. Stupidly I asked her if she was gay, bi, etc.  She said she was straight but she didn’t know yet. I waited a second.  She seemed nice enough to tell. “I’m bi” I told her after hesitation.  She was so supportive but I just couldn’t come to tell her I liked her. I  moved on with my life and even started to like a boy. I wondered if it  was just a phase. Nope! That summer when I hung out with her the same  butterflies hit my tummy. To this day I still like her but am totally  scared to tell her. I also am totally scared to tell my parents  (Hardcore Christians). I don’t even know what to tell my grandma because  every time we see a gay couple she turns to me and sticks her tongue  out. It felt nice to come out, but I’m not sure how to tell my parents,  please help.


Coming Out Stories

Coming Out

So I randomly decided to share my still not complete coming out story.  When I was about 11 years old I was sitting next to a beautiful girl in  french class. I live in Germany so if you don’t know that we have a few  classes. I was in class 6e and that girl was in class 6b. At this point  of time french and religion (or philosophy if you’re not catholic or  evangelic) were the only combined classes at my school. Still some of us  had friends in the other classes and I really wanted to become as close  as possible with her. I started to get some kinds of romantic feelings  for her and I was kind of scared. I didn’t really know if that was  possible to feel something like this for a girl or if it is ok to feel  like this. I did some research and thought “well, since I like boys too I  must be bisexual”. I was bullied really hard at this school and didn’t  really talk to anybody there so I didn’t even feel like telling anybody  about that. I was in camps really often and there it was no secret that I  was bisexual. Because of the bullying I changed school after the first  semester of 7th grade. When I changed school and started to feel  comfortable at my new school I didn’t keep my bisexuality a secret  anymore. I never told anybody who I was in love with. In 9th grade I  started to become really proud of my sexuality. I thought I was in love  with my best friend back then (a boy). It didn’t really work out, but I  met a boy because of him. One of his best friends who I was swimming  with a few years before that. He changed a lot but in a good way. He had  a crush on me back then and I didn’t but when we started talking again  he told me one day that he had a crush on me “again”. I told him that I  need to think because I wasn’t in love with him or anything. Everyday  when we video-chatted he asked me if I already thought about all of  this. I got tired and told him that we should start a relationship. It  worked out but I still had no real feelings for him. He knew about my  bisexuality and all he said about this was “well almost every girl is  bisexual”. I didn’t really care about all of this. After a trip with his  mom he told me really disgusted that he saw some lebians kissing on the  street. We started arguing. I thought out that he was homophobic and  since that time I just thought about how to break up with him. He  started to make rude comments about my sexuality. After another fight I  broke up with him because I couldn’t take it anymore. During our  relationship I met my now best friend. When I told him about my  boyfriend being homophobic he told me to break up with him. Many may  think now “well he had a crush on you” but no. We’re still best friend  and he has a girlfriend who knows about how close we are and about the  fact that I’m a lesbian. A month after we broke up I was at the mall  with my friend. I met my best friend with two girls there. I barely  talked to him. Just said hi and went back to my table. Well to be honest  I thought he was there if a girl and a boy. Later we were talking and I  said something like “well the boy…” he told me “those were two girls,  lesbians, a couple”. I didn’t say anything about this, but I couldn’t  stop thinking about them. Two 15 year old girls and they were so open  about there relationship. I know that’s not a big thing, but for the  first time I thought something like “I want to be like them”. I found  them on social media (no I’m not a stalker my best friend just posted a  picture with one of them) A few weeks later I told him that I think that  I may be a lesbian. The more I thought about this the more sure I  became that I really was. I found out more about the community and was  really proud to be part of this. I figured that I was never really in  love with a boy. He basically said ” I knew it all the time”. I was  really happy. I told 3 other friends about this and they accepted it so  much. I told more and more people. Put it in my insta bio. Some people I  only told that I like girls more than boys and that I’m not sure if I’m  really a lesbian. One time when I was drunk I yelled that I was gay.  All the people at the party heard that and accepted it. I was so happy. I  was proud of a community that was just so amazing (I know that bisexual  people are also part of the community but back then I didn’t really  know anything about it). On a trip to China with my school my sexuality  was no secret anymore and some of my friends asked me a ton of questions  about it. They asked me if they could make jokes or comments about it  and I said yes. There are still people that don’t know about it. My  neighbor who used to be my closest friends doesn’t know YET. She would  accept it but she would make comments about it which would be really  mean at the beginning. I’m just not ready for it. My parents? Same thing  for them. They would accept it but I don’t like the comments they make  about gay people. The rest of my family is another story. I’m polish so  they are really conservative and not really educated about it. Some of  them are just homophobic. Like my grandma. I don’t hate her for this.  She just doesn’t know about it. So most of the people know about it and  all of them accept it. I never made any bad experience with that and I’  really glad about it.


Coming Out Stories

Shards of a young adult

As a young boy growing up in a very conservative, very baptist family, I  was very aware of the stance my dad and brother had towards  homosexuality, I knew from birth that God hated homosexuality, that it  was an abomination, that it was punishable by death, these feelings were  only supported by the gag-reflexes of my father and brother at any gay  mention or individual they found in public. Yet among all the homophobic  commotion brought up in my family, grew a young boy who shared their  hatred, there was no way the oldest of both sons, the one destined to be  an architect, with straight A’s, could be gay, right?

I got a job working in a health store at the age of 18, by that time,  the feelings i was feeling only continued to grow. It was not much to  think about when i was younger, but as my hormones grew in tension so  did my attraction; an attraction i didn’t share with my younger brother,  an attraction for other men. Confused, frustrated, and all alone, I  found myself curled up in a ball in the corner of the health store where  i worked, crying and praying that God would heal me, that i could be  normal. I didn’t know what to do, the girlfriends I swooned never lasted  more than a week with me, women just didn’t excite me. I sought outside  help, a school mate I knew from high school. I didn’t know he was gay,  but one day surfing through the dating sites i used, i came across his  picture on the men seeking men category where I instantly recognized  him. Communicating with him came to a surprise to both of us as he was  also surprised that I am gay. I was desperate for help and I hoped that  my classmate could help me figure out these feelings i wanted to get rid  of so much. It was the last straw for me, I tried everything. I tried  going to the gym, took testosterone boosting supplements, dated women,  surrounded myself with very masculine guys, all in an attempt to drown  out my feelings, to smother them out before It was too late.  Unfortunately to my dismay, they never did, they persisted, and they got  MUCH worse! I started having feelings for my best friend, my schoolmate  argued with me every single day to come out to my parents. He was the  child who had no issues coming out to his parents, in fact they told him  they knew and they loved him; i on the other hand, knew without a  reasonable doubt, that my dad would all but stone me to death in his  living room.

Come one early morning, the week of picking classes for college, I’m  sitting on the couch talking with my dad about my future and the path he  helped lay out for me, when his phone rings. My dad owns his own  business, so it was not uncommon for him to receive calls during all  times of the day, not to mention I was used to conversations being  interrupted by his business calls. This call however, was different, my  dad remained silent, and his onlooking glare turned from interested, to a  complete disgust and hatred I’ve never seen him make, in which he  turned to me to ask. There is a guy on the phone, he says he is in front  of our house waiting for you and is threatening to call the police on  me, he said you are gay and he is waiting to take you away. The only guy  I knew whom i put my trust in to help me, had looked up my fathers  number and just outed me, my life had just ended that moment. The heart  of an innocent young adult who never got into trouble, who did his best  all his life, his life was now over, left bare to the wrath of his  father. I did the only thing I knew, I submitted, I told my schoolmate  that it was over, and to never call me again. My father among his  slinging insults and slander to my fragile emotions, had taken a  metaphorical hammer and bashed my heart into a thousand pieces. I was  brought to therapy, held susceptible to my feelings by rules of  engagement. I was not allowed to partake in certain activities, for fear  of sprouting further corruption in my life. I was to be cured, by a  strange man I’ve never met in my entire life, a man who beat into my  head the errors of my way. He confused me more and what’s more, infused a  fear in me that i still have issues with to this very day.

One year later I managed to convince my dad to stop my therapy, that my  feelings were gone. However three months later my brother discovered a  secret in the form of a boyfriend, but the ensuing altercation went  differently. i managed to call my best friend and put my phone in my  pocket, he listened to the whole commotion from the other line, the  slander, the hate, the yelling and wall banging of my father. “You are  not my son, you are a demon, possessed. My son is dead. You are  disgusting, how can you like ass, get out, and give me your car keys!  You can only take what you can hold, but i want you gone,” My dad was  gone, my feelings were shattered, my mom was hysterical, she begged me  to stay, begged me not to leave her alone with him and my brother. I  needed out, It was over for me, my sanity was at its lowest. Meanwhile  my best friend was waiting to pick me up in front of the house where he  was currently in an altercation with my younger brother. I got in my  friends car and we drove to his place so i can get back on my feet with  time.

Since that experience, I’ve had no help adjusting to my feelings, I’ve  been watching videos on YouTube to feel better about my choice to leave,  they hardly helped. One day I opted to overdose and take my life but  failed, I was caught mid act and forced to stop by my coworker. Since  then, I have been working to get into my own place, i am still at odds  with my dad and brother, a situation that i fear will never change as  long as i live.


Coming Out Stories

Counting Christmas

I came of age and came out of the closet during the “Decade of  Decadence”. Yes, the 1980s: cocaine, credit cards, bathhouses, designer  jeans, Reagan, the gay cancer, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Act Up,  fear, persecution, death and more death followed by more death, some  more fear and countless funerals that added up so quickly that most of  the gay men I knew felt guilty to be alive. By 1988, we were so  paralyzed by fear and guilt and numbed by cocaine and alcohol that it  took us some years to realize that our communities, our country, our  government, our President and in many cases even our families had  abandoned us because they assumed we would be dead soon anyway. By the  end of the decade more of the gay men I knew were counting Christmases  than were not.

“Counting Christmases” was a phrase my friends and I would use to  differentiate between the people we knew that had the gay cancer and  those of us that were merely waiting to get it. You see, from what we  observed, from the time in between when someone became sick from HIV to  the time they died you could count two Christmases. It was very late in  the decade when I got the news that I had two Christmases left. I was in  the middle of graduating from college, trying to make decisions about  what I wanted to do with my life and trying to first find and then  explore every back alley gay club I heard about when i had to break the  news to my family that i was “counting Christmases” too. I thought to  myself, “I don’t have time for this!” Just locating the gay clubs was a  full time job because none of them had signs in front of them. Randomly  figuring out which unmarked, dusty, back alley, inner city door had a  fabulous Gay Emerald City behind it was no easy task and now I only had  two years left to find every one of them in the world.

So my coming out story never really truly happened. I am sure there was a  huge amount of screaming clues and screaming queens around me that my  parents had to suspect I was gay anyway, so I skipped talking with them  at the time about my sexuality and merely announced during a family  dinner one Friday night that I was counting Christmases. My Mother’s  first reaction is going to seem cold to you, maybe even crass and  self-centered but don’t dwell on it. Her response was fairly typical for  near the end of the 1980s, when admit it out loud or not, most of us  were more focused directly on ourselves and how and if we would survive  until the cavalry (the 1990s) arrived than we were on anything else. So,  she turned to my father and said rather indignantly and with more than a  little disgust, “I told you this was going to happen.”

And that was it. That was the extent of the discussion mostly. We went  back to acting like we were a family that was above having any kinds of  problems and pretended that it wasn’t happening.

The 1990s arrived with many a year’s long haze and the family churned  on. The people I knew were continuing to die and i was just waiting to,  but before I knew it, 1997 rolled around and something in my body that  no one could explain had kept me alive until breakthrough medicines were  discovered and dispensed that offered those of us with HIV/AIDS a new  beginning and many more Christmases.

Those of us who navigated this 15 years in history the best we knew how  at the time were extremely lucky, but there was a cost to us, a loss,  what feels like a great amount of wasted time. Every generation will  indeed have its plight, but i encourage the young people of today to  find a way to embrace the fact that they are living in the best time in  history to be exactly who they are openly and as early as they become  comfortable in their skin. I encourage you to take full advantage of  this, stand up, be exactly who you are and who you want to be, come out  to the world because even though the current world is not without its  problems, I promise you that there will be what feels like a huge coming  out party awaiting you and that you will feel exponentially more alive  when you live your authentic life out of the darkness and in the light  where the world can see exactly how beautiful you are.


Coming Out Stories

Life is So Much Brighter Outside of the Closet

So…no matter how much you’ve tried to deny it, you’ve come to the  realization that you ARE gay. You’ve really known it for as long as you  could remember, but hoped that it would magically go away or fix itself.  This is how I felt when I was still in the closet. The thing is, is  that you and I are NOT broken. You are merely at a crossroads in life  that millions of people have, are, and will struggle with. I did.

I remember when I was in my grade school years lying in bed at night not  able to sleep, clenching the sheets over my head asking myself, “Why  me? Why did this have to happen to ME?!” I thought that if my terrible  secret got out it would hurt all of the important people in my life. So I  played a part. I played a part of someone I was supposed to be. Someone  that was NOT me. There is nothing more damaging to your soul than  “living” life pretending to be someone else. It puts you in a dark place  that seems to get bigger, darker, and more empty, every lonely day. You  may think you’re all alone, and in all of your despair you don’t  realize…there are so many (just like (but not exactly like) you) that  are sharing your pain. It’s that damned closet. Well…step outside. It  gets better. Life is so much brighter outside of the closet.

My sisters were the ones that helped me over my threshold. I was close  to them and they knew, but I didn’t know they knew. I thought I had  everyone fooled, because the man I lived with was my “room mate.” They  had me over for dinner one night and after dessert just flat out asked  me. I was so shocked and blindsided that I couldn’t do anything but  confess the truth. And as I heard myself for the first time admitting to  someone, “I am gay,” I overwhelmingly felt scared, yet liberated. I  knew that from that point on life was going to change in a major way. I  knew that I had to tell my parents, and when the time was right, I did.  My mom cried and tried to deny it for a week, but eventually (probably  from some coaching from my sisters) came to a realization. She told me,  “You are my son, and I will always love you no matter what. I just want  you to be happy.” With my dad I thought it would go one of two ways.  Either he’d blow his top and exile me from his life or he’d be like,  “Okay.” In hindsight, I was silly to think he’d react any differently  than the latter, because he told me, “You are my son, and I will always  love you no matter what. I just want you to be happy.” I truly am one of  the lucky ones to have had such a supportive and unconditionally loving  family to help me through one of the most difficult times in my life.

That’s how simple everyone’s coming out story should be.  Unfortunately…it’s not. There’s a full gamut of conditions that will  determine the outcome of your coming out. What IS consistent in  everyone’s coming out story is that you must rise above the fear and  doubt. When the time is right you will know. And you simply won’t know  what the reactions of the people in your life are until you tell them.  Luckily there are plenty of resources that will help you out of the  dark, over the threshold, and into the light – especially now. I suggest  checking out the It Gets Better Project online. Watch some of the  videos. They will inspire you, make you smile, and probably make you  cry.

In my experiences I’ve lost some people and found new people. The  important ones – the ones that really mattered – stuck around. I’ve  discovered a whole new gay world that I never knew existed. There have  been ups and downs just like anyone’s roller coaster through life. Some  people will love you and some people will hate you. Some really won’t  give a damn. There will be romance and heartache; new life and lives  ended. Life will be life – gay, straight, whatever. But at least you can  go through yours and own it as the person that you truly are. Don’t  wake up one day in your fifties and realize that you’ve lived someone  else’s life, because you can’t get those years back. Come out while you  still have your life ahead of you.

People choose how honest to be with the world, and that is their right. I  don’t shove it down anyone’s throats or introduce myself to people  like, “Hi. I’m Jimmy. I’m gay.” But I sure as hell don’t hide it either.  I am so proud to be a gay man. And I wouldn’t have come to this point  if I hadn’t unfurled from the fetal position, stood up, and walked out  of that closet. You won’t know how people will react to your coming out  until you make that jump over your closet’s threshold, but know that  there is a wide support net out here waiting to catch you. It’s our gay  community. That’s why we call ourselves “family.”


Coming Out Stories

From Fag Hag to Mom, a ’90’s kid comes out

I thought I would marry a prince, always waiting for my white knight to  show up and whisk me away. But when my boyfriends kissed me, it didn’t  feel like that moment in the movies; the ones with the fireworks and  romantic music when the guy finally kisses the girl at the end. Instead  it felt off, like when you lie to a friend about their terrible hair cut  or when a stranger is standing too close in your personal space. I  thought that was because I hadn’t found the right one yet.

My friend Jon called me his “Fag Hag” one day sitting on his bed in his  room. “Yeah, that’s right”, I said claiming that label as soon as it  passed from his lips. Jon was 17 but had been out for all his life and  he was my best friend ever since we were in Journalism class together. I  told Jon we should go to the teen LGBT support group meetings, to help  him to find a boyfriend. I had a car, after all, and he didn’t. I told  myself I was doing him a favor and I liked gay people anyway.

At the first meeting, all the other teens were going around the table  proudly announcing, “I’m gay”, “I’m a lesbian” etc and when they got to  me, all I said was “I’m Jon’s fag hag!”. It felt welcoming to be there,  even though I wasn’t truly one of them. Everyone was going around the  table describing their coming out stories and how they had told their  friends or family they were gay and this one guy said, “I feel ashamed”.  Ashamed…. That word just felt too real. I turned it around in my head  for weeks. Did I feel ashamed about myself? Did I like girls? I’d look  at myself in the mirror, turned my head to the side like a puppy who  doesn’t understand, and wonder who was looking back at me.

I realized there was only one way to find out; I had to kiss a girl and  then I’d know for sure. Yes, this would settle everything. Then, I’d be  able to go back to my normal life. Hmmm… But there was no Tinder back  then. How would I find a girl to kiss me? I just kept going to the  support group meetings with Jon every week. After one of the meetings we  all decided to go to the gay coffee shop.

In walked a familiar face and sat down at the end of our table. She  watched me, she watched the group. She had short blonde hair, masculine  style clothes and I had no Idea how I knew her. Finally, she just called  my name and I turn to get a good look at her. I squint my eyes as if it  would help me remember and finally she said, ‘French class!” Like, duh,  how could I forget? I smiled and a flood of imagines ran through my  mind.

Three years before, I sat behind her in rows of desks. Neither of us had  an ear for languages and she made jokes to make me feel better about my  bad test scores. She joked, “Grey Poupon is the only French I can  pronounce”. I remember staring at her long blonde hair from behind as it  hung over the back of her chair during class. And I hadn’t seen her  again since that semester.

That night at the coffee shop, we talked for hours. She walked me to my  car and she was staring at the ground when she asked me out on a date.  The instant I agreed, I wanted to cancel. Was this going to make me gay?  Why was I even agreeing to this? The questions seared in my brain  unanswered. I had never felt so scared and nervous. I couldn’t think  about anything else in the days leading up to my first date with a girl.  I desperately wanted to see her again but was ashamed that it made me a  sick pervert to have had those feelings for another girl. I only told  Jon who, of course, wanted to dress me up pretty for my date. So, we  spent that day bleaching our hair and trying on different dresses  together.

We decided to meet at our old Elementary school. She pulled up in her  Ford Ranger and I climbed out of my 1982 Cougar. We walked around the  campus, sitting on the swings and talking about Elementary school. She  was a year ahead me but we were both on the volleyball team together and  had classrooms on the same floor. We talked about all the times we  should have met but didn’t and then she grabbed my hand. Sheer panic set  into my body like someone dropped an ice cube down my spine. This felt  kind of normal and it was terrifying. Her hands were soft and she  interlaced her fingers with mine like they were designed to be together.
We went to dinner, where she explained that she had never been on a date  before, never kissed anyone either and she was nervous. I thought it  was kind of cute to be her first date ever. I admitted that I was maybe  “a little bisexual” and she teased me for being so shy.

After dinner, she took me back to my car. As I got out, my heart was  beating so fast I thought it was going to burst right out of my chest  and run down the street naked. Oh, My God, THE KISS. The Kiss that would  determine if I was truly gay or not was about to happen. I leaned  against my car and told her I had a good time. She smiled and started to  lean toward me. It suddenly felt like my whole life was leading up to  this moment. Like fate was trying to bring us together our whole lives  and finally, it was happening. It was like time stopped and she was  coming closer and closer and then…. She hit my nose with her nose in a  kind of head bump. Then the top of her lip hit my lip, I was off balance  and had to take a step back to prevent falling. A few more nose bumps  later, she leaned back with a silly grin on her face.

I smiled at her and told her I’d see her later and drove off in that ’82 cougar like I was ‘born to run’.

In the car, I kept thinking about that kiss. It was the worst, the  absolute worst and best kiss of my life up till then. I said out loud to  myself “well, I’m a lesbian”. The words feel real on my tongue and to  my ears. My whole body just burned with relief and fear. I feared, I  would never get married or have children or have a full filling  relationship since I had no frame of reference of anyone who had done  it. I knew no older gay people and technically, sodomy was still  illegal.

My family is Italian and like the Mafia, they always seem to know more  than they should. It was only a few months after Ellen came out on TV  and ‘Coming out’ was all over the media and on the talk shows. I was  living with my grandparents for the summer and they kept dropping hints  they knew what was up, Grandma would comment, “Oh that Ellen, she did a  brave thing” looking at me knowingly. The girl, Jennifer, was picking me  up from the house lately, I wasn’t dating anyone else and I was  watching marathon Xena Warrior Princess on TV. Thinking back, clearly, I  was hiding it like a pro.

One night, my mom had called to grill me on what I was up to. She kept  asking leading questions, “So are you dating anyone new?”, “Who are you  hanging out with these days?”. I wanted to just get it over with and  stop stressing about everyone’s reaction. The words felt like they were  burning a hole in my throat and I was going to choke on them. So, I took  a deep breath and let out three hardest, heaviest words I had to say “I  am gay”. I tossed out the words like I was rolling the dice for a board  game and I was just hoping to pass GO. My mom responded, “But you like  to wear dresses”. I said, “I can still wear them.” She said, “But you  want to have kids”. I said, “I still do”. “Well, then, I’m going to be  the coolest mom about this!” As had been her style my whole life to be  supportive, this didn’t change that. But, it took her a while to truly  catch up to me. She had her own journey to acceptance that had entirely  nothing to do with me.

18 years later and I am married, I am a mother and yes, I still wear dresses.