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Coming Out Stories Gallery - Jason 2


I remember standing in field behind our apartment complex with my step-brother. I was newly 18 - he was a vastly older brother at 19. I had dragged him there after dinner to tell him some 'really important news'. We'd been there for nearly an hour. Me unable to form the words and he passing the time by trying to guess it out of me.

"Are you really a woman?" he asked.
"No," I answered slightly exasperated.
"Do you have cancer?" he asked.
"No," I replied wishing he would make this easier by hitting on it.
"Are you dying?"
"No," I said, "it's nothing like that."
"Do you like guys?"
"Yeah," my voice quivering slightly, "it's a lot like that."

I wish I was one of the people who could point to the exact moment when they realized they were gay. I can't. At some level I knew I liked other boys before I knew I was left handed. It was just there. No earth shattering moment in high school or college when you look at the person in bed with you and think, "Ohmygosh! This is another guy! I must be gay!" In a way I'm envious of those people who were fortunate enough to remain oblivious to the fact until they were ready to handle it.

I also can't remember when I learned that being gay was somehow bad. And evil. And sinful. But I guess I was lucky enough to have picked up on that early on too. So from early adolescence I had the knowledge that I was different than everyone else but I was young and I had time to fix it.

Seventeen years wasted. Down the drain. Gone and ain't coming back. Seventeen years I spent trying to push my sexuality pendulum in the other direction. If I hung posters of near naked women on my walls in my bedroom. If I forced myself to think about having sex with girls while I jerked off. If I watched straight porn and pretended that the women with their silicon balloons flopping all over the place were the source of my erection and not the virile hunks who were mounting them. If I prayed enough.

My sexuality is probably the biggest reason that I was the only member of my family to seek out religion. I was never forced to go, in fact I went alone. I would call churches when ever we moved and ask if they could provide transportation. I wonder now what they thought of this little kid who was so faithful and even remembered to bring a dollar every week for the Sunday School offering. By the way, I decided that I was Southern Baptist. And since I sought them out for so long I consider the emotional damage they did to be self-inflicted.

But I developed my relationship with Christ there. And I knew that God would not forsake his faithful servant. So I spent a lot of time in prayer begging God to take this curse off me and let me be like everyone else. Some weeks I could even fool myself in to thinking it had worked. But I was always back the next week chanting the same mantra. I swear I must have bored God to tears.

Every gay person, before they tell anyone about their sexuality, fantasizes about how they're going to tell people. My fantasy was my will. My dear, beloved family would be gathered around to hear which part of my fortunes they would inherit and my lawyer would have instructions to end the session with, "And he was gay!" There would be a collective sucking in of breath (most noticeably my wife) and that's about where the fantasy ended. Having told everyone at a point when it was of no use to me but having won the battle anyway because I didn't take it to my grave. The reality was somewhat different if not more comical.

The summer of '88 was the turning point. I was on summer vacation visiting my father in Colorado. I remember going for a walk in the mountains by myself when something inside me cracked. I sat down and said, "I'm gay." I said it out loud. For the first time. I waited a moment for the lighting to strike or the earth to stop spinning. When that didn't happen I said it one more time to make sure God heard me (maybe He was distracted by a war or something just a that instant - you never know) and then I fell back and cried my soul out for what seemed like hours. Aged seventeen years I was ready to grow up and accept myself

At that point my prayers changed. I explained to God that I had waited for my entire life for Him to answer my prayer (and when your seventeen you feel as if you've been hanging around for at least a couple of centuries) and apparently He wasn't going to do it. So I prayed for God to at least give me the courage to accept myself and to help me find the strength to tell my family. You know what? When you pray for the right things, God really does answer them!

Home coming was hard that year. I found myself back in Chicago surrounded by all the people I loved and wanted to tell. But my insides felt like they turned to cement at the mere thought of doing it. The closest I could come was to keep telling my step-brother that I wanted to tell him something that was really important to me. He’d stand there and wait. "Not now!," I would almost scream. So he went on with his business not realizing I really was hoping he would just figure it out on his own.

In the end I told my girlfriend first. We had dated on and off since before we started high school. We talked marriage a lot. Had our kid’s names picked out. We’d even felt each other up. In fact, we’d done just about everything except ‘IT’. I’m sure she didn’t realize that we’d never gone all the way, no matter how often she hinted that it would be okay with her, because I was deathly afraid that if we tried it, certain parts of my anatomy would fail to rise to the occasion and my secret would be out. Note of girlfriend’s after-me-life: she has just gotten married for the second time and has a beautiful baby daughter. I’m very proud of all of them (I worked with the current husband back in high school). Husband number one married her shortly after high school and moved her to Maryland where he was stationed in the Navy. I’m sure you see this one coming… after a couple years he moved ‘his’ boyfriend in and she promptly moved out. Honest engine! I couldn’t make up something as ironic.

But back then I was now pushing eighteen and had only managed to tell one person. And them came the movie Dirty Dancing. Remember the scene when Jennifer Grey turns on the record player in Patrick Swayze’s bedroom. He’s standing there bare-chested and she walks up and runs her hand all around his torso while she circles him. It wasn’t so much an attraction towards Patrick Swayze as it was that moment of watching Jennifer run her hand along him and he letting her have her way. Just the idea of being that in love with another guy that he would let me run my hands were they wanted was almost too intoxicating. I went to my room, locked the door and laid on the floor. "God, please give me one chance to fall in love that deeply and I’ll never ask for anything again." Again God was listening.

Some time later I was reading the Sunday paper. I don’t know why I was in the classified ads but my eye caught an ad and it stayed glued there. It was like destiny had led me to this point. The ad read ‘ARE YOU GAY? Call…" And there was a phone number that followed. WOW! The doors were being flung open and soon someone would tell me all about being gay and what exactly I was supposed to do to be gay. I was certain this was divine intervention. I was also so completely ignorant that the significance of the phone number beginning with 1-900 was completely lost on me.

I remember my hands shaking as I called the number. I got as far as hearing the recording say "To leave a message press one, to listen to other messages press two…" and then I hung up. I spent nearly an hour rehearsing my message. I didn’t want anyone to pick up that I was about the most ignorant thing to fall off the truck this week but at the same time I wanted to convey that I was a little scared and needing some direction. My message went like this, "Hi, my name is Jason and I’m 18 and I’m looking for a relationship," and I left a phone number to reach me. I decided that too little information was better then blowing my cover by rambling on about things I didn’t know about. I called back a third time and pressed two to hear how my message would sound to everyone else. I never got to my own message. By the second caller I listened to I realized with dawning horror that I had just called a phone sex line. And messages stayed on the system for three days! And I le! ft my phone number! My parent’s phone number!

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I said I was only eighteen or if the phrase ‘relationship’ had some hidden meaning. But the phone started ringing five minutes later and it rang almost non-stop for the full three days. At first I just let the answering machine take the calls and I listened and then diligently erased the messages. Going to work was a struggle. Fortunately I was working part time at the same company where my Mom worked so I knew where she was at all times. I felt I could still take care of erasing the answer machine by calling from work and entering the code. I took the phone off the hook in my bedroom before we went to sleep so it wouldn’t ring during the night. But on the second day Mom called in sick and stayed home. I was so scared (and worn out from trying to catch the phone every time it rang) that right after dinner I took my brother outside tell him my ‘important news’ and enlist his help.

So the conversation went as it did at the beginning of this story. Fortunately his reaction was ‘So?’ but I was too preoccupied to grasp the significance that I just told someone close to me and he didn’t care. I blurted out the story of the phone line and he promised to help keep the phone away from my Mom. I was so relived. But ignorance apparently runs deep and it didn’t occur to me to wonder who was answering the phone while we were outside. When we got back in my Mom walked up and gave me a list of all the guys who called in the past hour. I don’t remember how many there were but I said "Thanks, I’ll give them a call back" hoping she would think they were friends from school and I had magically turned popular in my senior year.

The next morning my Mother was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes. When I came in she asked me who all these men were that were calling. My answer, "I don’t know if you realize it or not but I’m gay and I don’t want you to take my calls anymore." She asked me to repeat that and I did, word for word so it’s burned in my brain. What a dorky way to tell your mother that your gay and yet I said it. Twice! At that unfortunate moment of awkward silence my older sister managed to show up for a visit. She opened the door and just stood there in silence with us. My sister mouthed "What’s going on," to me while she looked at my Mom staring out the window. "Just leave," I mouthed back. "I’ll call you."

I don’t remember much of what my Mom and I talked about that morning. I remember agreeing to see a therapist but that’s about it. My sister called later and begged me to tell her what was going on.

"I came out of the closet," I said.
"And…" she prodded.
"And Mom freaked out"
Confused silence
"Well, what were you doing in the closet?"
Like I said, ignorance runs deep.

After I explained to my sister that I didn’t jump out of a closet and scare Mother half to death, she didn’t react as well as I hoped. I don’t remember her initial reaction but I know that she promptly called most of the rest of the family to tell them the news. At that point I didn’t care. I was actually relived that everyone would know and I didn’t have to tell them in my will.

The rest of my senior year is a blur. None of it very good. I ended up on a Greyhound bus at midnight right after graduation. I was going to Colorado because I felt my life was in danger if I stayed in Chicago. I won’t go into the whys because it’s too painful if it’s true and too ridiculous if it was paranoia. But I found myself back in Colorado with my Dad and a family who accepted me. And life was good.

God didn’t forget me or my prayers either. Shortly after I moved here I met John. I was still 18 and he a wise soul of 24. Today John is 35 and I have a few more weeks of being twenty-something before I also hit thirty. John and I have shared a loving, monogamous relationship for more than eleven years now. We had a church wedding last year on our tenth anniversary. And every morning I see him sleeping I thank God for answering my prayer to give me just one chance to love someone that deeply.

As for the rest of my family, time heals all wounds. I am now closer to everyone than I’ve even been before. While the coming out process was not entirely painless it was worth it. Every single bit of it. I’d do it all again in exactly the same way (except that I might find a less stupid way to tell my Mother).

God is great!


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