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Coming Out Stories Gallery - Troy

I don't think my story reflects the way it ought to be done, but I guess there's no right or wrong way to do it. I just wouldn't recommend this one:

I was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill living with two very close friends (both straight men) and experiencing many personal freedoms. Since I had begun my university career as a very overweight, very right-wing Christian fundamentalist, I was overjoyed to have lost 75 lbs., to have changed my major to acting and to have come way out of the closet to all of my friends in Chapel Hill; but my family was still in the dark.

One day, we were all sitting around the apartment when my mother and stepfather showed up. It never occured to me that it was strange that we -- all of us very busy students -- were sitting around on a Tuesday afternoon at 4:30. Apparently, my mother had phoned my roommate Joe earlier and asked him to make sure that I would be there when she arrived because my father had died at 2:00pm and she didn't want to tell me over the phone.

When she told me what had happened I absolutely freaked out, I mean I went hysterical. Almost animalisticly, I ran out of the apartment shrieking and going way out of my skull. I didn't want to believe that I no longer had any chance of changing my distant relationship with my father. I felt so distraught, because even though we had a very strange if not non-existant relationship, I knew that he was the most open minded of the two of them and the one with whom I could have probably related to the most at that point in my life. With no siblings to confide in, I thought, my dad was the only option of understanding my new liberal persuasions. I just hadn't gotten to discussing it with him yet.

At that moment, I was feeling the most profound sense of regret I think I have ever experienced. My mother had followed my tirade into the courtyards of my apartment complex. (A neighbor came outside and asked my mother if I was "tripping". My mother had no idea what she was talking about.) Anyway, as the world bagan to look darker and darker and as I smashed the watch dad had given me for graduation on the pavement (drama queen...?), in utter despair, I realized why I was so distraught. It was because my father never knew me. Not because he didn't know that I was gay, that I slept with men, that I was a man who wanted to be with men (he didn't); but that he didn't know ME. It was at that moment that I turned around and said, "Mama, I'm gay"

Now, I realize that I was emotional, but that was really not an appropriate time to drop this very large bomb on my mother.

Nonetheless, I continued.

"Daddy never knew me. He never understood me and I love you and I don't want that to happen to us. I know you don't like it, but it's part of who I am."

Well, she started crying. And she said, "I have suspected it for a while now." (Could it have been the summer of '82 when I, a pudgy 8 year old, demanded that my father take me to the hardware store and purchase several yards of yellow rope so that I could then return home to don my cuttoff daisy duke shorts, my mother's red leather zip-up-the-side boots, and the entire houshold stock of Reynold's Wrap aluminum foil in order to stunningly portray Linda Carter as Wonder Woman and lasso the neighborhood boys to make them tell the truth? Nah.)

Then she asks, "Well...Are you practicing?" (as in the southern term "he's a PRACTICING homosexual". I guess in some states you can actually get a professional license for it.)

I thought for a moment and responded sarcastically, "Yes mother, I rehearse every day and I'm fabulous."

To this she shot me an I'm-gonna-smack-you look and blustered, "you know what I mean!"

To which I calmly said, "Mother, I'm just saying that it's not about the sex. I don't ask you about your sex life with James; it's none of my business. I just want to be able to be honest with you and I want you to know me, because I love you so much and I can't bear for this to happen again."

We embraced and headed back to my hometown to be with family and friends.

She still doesn't like it but she's been there for me when I've needed her; even to give advice on relationship problems with an ex-boyfiend. My whole family knows now except for my stepfather. My mother didn't want to tell him, but I can't imagine that after 5 years now he doesn't know. Everyone is very supportive of me and they love me very much. I'm so glad that I have them in my life. I would have been cheating myself if I had not been honest with them.

Today, January 7, 2000, would have been my father's 51st birthday. I honor him today and pray that he now knows me and sees me for who I am and for who I want to be. I am thankful that, even though it was through his death, he gave me the strength to do something that made me truer to myself and to my family than I had ever been before. So, thanks Daddy.

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Drop a note to Deborah at gaylesissues@rslevinson.com

copyright 1986-2010 Deborah Levinson