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Coming Out Stories Gallery - Tim Cranston

Well, I'm ashamed to say there was a lot of serious denial. I told more truly cruel gay jokes than anyone else in my school, and probably inflicted a lot of misery on other gay students (if there were any) with all the awful things I said. For this reason I'm a bit more tolerant of kids today who say horrible things than some people are - I know it can be the defense mechanism of a truly frightened person.

I started having sex at 17 - and was so horrified that I was convinced I was 'really straight' after my first experience. The horror didn't last long, and soon I was getting around quite a bit. No interest in dates or gay culture - just sex.

A few gay men tried to befriend me and introduce me to their friends, but I was into horror movies and guns and vandalism - not your typical 'gay stuff' and I just never fit in. Basically I was fun in bed but too fucking weird and delinquent to get into the groove at anyone's party. Not only was I not straight, I wasn't a very good gay person either. Tough times.

Eventually it started to sink in that I really was gay, though, but I still had a lot of trouble finding people I liked. In college, the gay people I met were super-liberal and hopelessly addicted to musicals and politics - very much a clone community. I was politically conservative/nihilistic and (gasp!) didn't like dancing, so people politely turned their noses up and I gave up on trying to come out that way.

I had come out to a friend from High School, but not much discussion in followed, mostly because I didn't have the nerve to bring up the subject again (neither did he). In college there were a few similar experiences, but for whatever reason discussions never really went anywhere. Finally, determined to really put my cards on the table and force myself to talk, I joined a fraternity that required all its members to recount their personal lives in explicit detail. It sounds weird but boy did it work - when my turn came one night, I let 'em have it. People were stunned; they expected stories about making it with 'hot chicks' or something. Some of these guys were very religious so I didn't know what to expect. But they were great. All of them became great friends and we remain quite close today. I wish more fraternities were like this; they were a good group of guys who treated me honorably. Plus they liked guns and horror movies too...I finally had actual friends who I could talk to and were interested. Anyway, after that the floodgates opened, and more and more people learned. Some were shocked, but not one friend rejected me or treated me badly...I regard that night as my most important step in coming out.

My parents were among the last to know. I dropped a lot of hints around Mom without knowing it. We were debating AIDS or something and then she said "I thought you told me last week that you were gay." I said "no, mom, I didn't, but I am." Well, the shit hit the fan about a week later and Mom got really depressed for YEARS. Dad found out by discovering an erotic letter I'd written (poor guy) and nearly dropped dead on the spot but didn't say anything. Years later when I came out to him it was incredibly anticlimactic. I had suspected he might know because he had stopped making AIDS jokes and then told me how "poor Oscar Wilde had been treated unfairly." Talk about an about-face!

Anyway - Mom and Dad coped awkwardly for a long time, and both refused to get counseling from anyone because they didn't want to be preached to by some 'vacuous happy person' as Mom put it. Things got much better when I brought home my spouse, a big butch engineer who knew how to fix Dad's crappy car and didn't lisp or mince (their worst fear). Having a shrewish, unkind, high-strung sister-in-law helped too; my parents quickly saw that marrying a woman wasn't always good news for the family. My brother didn't care at all.

These days things are great. We spend more time with my parents than any other couple. I even listen to show tunes sometimes! Never in a million years would I have expected that.

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