I came out to my family when I was 15. I think I knew sooner than that, but for a long time my feelings had no name. It was 1976. There wasn’t much to be discussed about gay people. The woman I hike with, Laura, was my first true love. On November 13th 1976 she told me she loved me and my life was forever changed. We spent the day hiking together with a great group of women this past Sunday ( Nov 13th 2016). We had our moment and reflected on the significance of our forty year friendship/love affair … she will always be my person.
I wouldn’t change even a moment of how it happened. It was largely our secret, though others would catch us in a gaze or some other awkward situation. We didn’t name it, we just began our loving adventure. All of my “firsts” were with her. I was truly, madly, deeply in love.
We lost touch over the years a couple different times, but seven or eight years ago we reconnected for good. To have this person still in my life is a miracle. It is something I value above most all else. Some things cannot be measured or weighed. They just are. This is one of those things.
The ONE THING I DO wish I had done differently was in how I told my parents. It came out during an argument when they tried to limit my contact with Laura and the kids I hung out with. It came out as a big ” well, fuck you, because I’m gay ” and it remains one of the only regrets I truly have. I hated how it happened then and over the years in looking back I see how I could have handled it in a way that honored who I was and honored the relationship I had with them. I wish I had taken ownership of my own life. I wish I had loved myself enough to share it instead of using it as a means of hurting them.
If I could do it over, I would tell them that I had been struggling to understand the feelings I had. Struggling with how I should tell them. I would explain that it wasn’t a phase that I would outgrow but rather a “knowing” about myself that I had finally embraced. I’d tell them that I knew when I was very young that I was different. Different isn’t bad at all. The important thing I would tell them, was that I was happy and that I had embraced this knowing of myself. God never came into it for me really since religion was not a big part of my life.
I hope you can find a way to share with your family too. Share who you are in a way that honors YOU (above all else) and honors the relationship you’ve always had with them. You might even consider sharing with them how much you value being able to talk with them.
You are perfect. I always believe if God had wanted us otherwise, he would have made us otherwise. Seek out people who reinforce that. Work hard RIGHT NOW in school and build a meaningful career, because your older wiser, self will thank you for it. Just keep being YOU. And keep sharing with those who love you, in a way that honors the person you are.
( For S. You know who you are * )