Being gay does not define who I am, it is just part of who I am

Here is my truth…the first woman I remember falling in love with was Miss Kramer, my second grade teacher.  It was 1978 and she drove a Pacer.  How I wanted to ride around our tiny little town in that car (which looked like a Milk Dud) with Miss Kramer.  I imagined what it would be like to live with her, I wanted her to adopt me away from my family of 8 and shower me with all of her attention.  Of course, at the time, I had no idea that my crush on Miss Kramer was because I was gay…that would not come to be for another 20 years.

I was always fascinated by women.  I thought my admiration for them was just that, me admiring EVERYTHING about a strong, smart, beautiful woman so that I might someday emulate them.  The lines between admiration, adoration and attraction began to cross when I was in my mid-20s.  To that point I was quite confused about who I was.  I had plenty of male friends but I never, not once, ever had the inclination to “be” with them.  If ever they tried to “be” with me I would run, hide, play it off.  I could not make sense of what was happening (or NOT happening) in my life.  All of my friends had had boyfriends, I had none.  I began to think I was asexual.  It seriously never entered my mind that I might be gay until I got a job where many employees were gay. It was as if my mothership had landed.  I began to understand what “gay” meant (and what it DID NOT mean).  Gay meant being who you were meant to be and loving who you were meant to love.  It was not sick, perverted, or deviant as I had been lead to believe by my church, my small town, my culture.  I tried to fight it at first.  I swore to never act on it and when I decided that would be impossible, I decided I would act on it but I just wouldn’t tell anyone.  I wanted to move a million miles away from home so I could start a new gay life where no one knew me and where no one cared who I was and who I was with.  In my frenzy to keep my dirty little secret I started to feel like I was going crazy.  I considered taking my life…a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  My family had already lost one member (my younger brother) to suicide.  I saw how that ripped my family apart and broke our hearts forever; I knew I could not put them through that again.  I had often wondered how my brother could have felt so powerless and hopeless that he would commit suicide.  I realized that by hiding, I was rendering myself powerless and I certainly felt hopelessly trapped in denial, regret and self-loathing.  What a horrible way to live.  I decided that I needed to take control of my life. 

Being gay does not define who I am, it is just part of who I am.  Slowly, but surely, I started coming out to my family.  I started with my mom (the softy) and do you know what she said???  She said, “I always knew you were gay, I was just waiting for you to tell me!  I just want you to be happy and know that you will love and be loved.”  And so it went with each member of my family.  How I regretted all the time I wasted doubting their love for me.  I had felt so tortured, thinking everyone would relish in  “Little Miss Perfect’s” fall from grace.  Always striving to be perfect, be everything to everyone, be successful, be a role model for my younger siblings…the great cover up to counter my horrific gayness…all to find out that they all just love me for me, gay and all.   Now that 2 more of my siblings have recently come out (3 of my parents’ 6 children are gay), I can honestly say that when it comes to love and acceptance, my family takes the cake.  My advice to young people who are worried about coming out is this:  Who you are and how you live your life MATTERS and those who truly love you will accept you for exactly that.  To thine own self be true…