This time of year one hears a lot about national coming out day which happens to fall this week. So I decided that it would be a good time to share my story as well. I spent the day yesterday retracing my first few months in Madison down on State Street. When I first moved here I really did not have anywhere to go and I certainly didn't know anyone, so I would spend hours walking down the street and watching people. Many times I would sit and write or read, I find that this was one of the most creative periods of my life. Anyway, it amazed me then, and I felt it yesterday, that even around so many people a person can feel so alone.
I knew long ago that I was gay, I would say early teens. Unfortunately, where I grew up and in my family, being gay was one of the biggest taboos that one could be. Growing up in such a religious family and area, diversity was not high on the list of things encouraged. When I finally accepted myself I was resigned to the fact that I would never, ever, under any circumstance reveal who I was to my family. Deep down, I knew that if I came out to them I would essentially lose my family. Fast forward about 10 years when I had returned from the Army and I was living at my folks house while I was figuring out what I was going to do. I had been driving back and forth to Madison because the person I was seeing lived here. So I spent more of my time on the road driving out here than being at their house, but it all changed when I came home from a long weekend. My mom was acting strange when I came home and she said that we would talk about it at dinner that night. We had a wonderful pizza dinner and laughed and joked the entire time. Looking back on it now, that was one of the best nights with my parents that I can remember, up until we were cleaning up.
My father started drilling me about Madison, and then asked me if a few people were gay (of course 1 was the person I was seeing and the other was my ex) so I had no choice but to say yes. Then he said " I am going to ask you one more question, and the answer better not be what I think it is." Then, he proceeded to ask me if I was gay. My world was stopped at that moment, but somehow I was able to muster out a yes. That moment changed my life, it felt that the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders, just gone. I have forgiven my parents for the things that they said next, however, I will never forget it. My dad started ranting about me going to hell, and that he would never be able to walk me down the isle. My mom said that she couldn't look at me, and that it would be better if I was dead. The relationship with them was forever shattered after that night. I wish I could say it got better after that..the moving out what dreadful. Threats of having anything left in their house would be destroyed. Being asked if any of my 'fag friends' were coming to help me. And that everything with my family was as of now, over.
I rented a U-Haul that weekend and came out to Madison, really with no-where to go. I spent the next few months, sleeping on the couch of friends, or sleeping in my car. I would eat once every 3 or 4 days and just did what I could do to survive. That is how I view my coming out: survival. I hit the bottom of bottoms and I still am not sure how I survived, but I did. I am a much stronger person because of these experiences although they have marked me.
Although I talk with my parents we have never been the same since that night over 7 years ago. We have never talked about it again. I have accepted that they will never fully see who I am and who I have become because they choose to. I would love for them to see me play hockey, or see the article that I took pictures for. I have built a new family in Madison. A family of hockey players, cyclists, wonderful loving people that seem to love me too! It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I am a better person for it.