This fact nauseated and frightened me. I, like most of my peers, had used “gay” as a pejorative and thought the orientation alone a substantial sin. I was also pretty sure I was the only gay person within a quarter of a continent. Still, even if I did know another gay person (turns out I did, but had no idea) I’d not have approached them. I was the sort of kid who’d never have actively come out in any way to anyone without telling my parents first.
For about a year I tried on my own to change. I didn’t ask for anyone’s help, but in prayer. This was, thankfully, the worst year of my life.
I did the average thing. I worried myself physically ill (my parents kept taking me to doctors who could find nothing wrong, and I’d admit to nothing). I had bouts of euphoria thinking I felt even an atom of attraction diminish. I then felt confusion and self-disgust, when it always returned like a tide.
Why did all my friends escape puberty attracted to girls and I got what most girls end up with? What did I do wrong, and so on… I thought fondly of suicide, but never attempted it. I prayed and prayed for it to pass. It didn’t pass.
Then one summer day my parents told me they were going on vacation, and I told myself I’d not let them go without confessing. I’d never kept such a secret from them before, and felt guilty for that alone, and was afraid, with them gone, I may not merely think of suicide.
What would happen once they knew the ugly secret about their boy? I suspected I’d either become homeless or they’d let me stay on the condition I get treatment. I’d have welcomed the treatment.
In retrospect, I’ve never been more disrespectful to my parents than in my assuming only those two options. We never had really talked about what being gay would mean to my parents, and I was quite anti-gay myself and assumed they were too. But I was very wrong, and am still very sorry to this day (At least I paid for the insult in a wasted year).
Anyway, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t say it; I could hardly think it. I excused my backing out by thinking I didn’t want to ruin their trip, and so I let my dad leave, saying nothing. When it was time for my mom to join him, a day later, I stayed in my room.
She came in and said she wouldn’t leave unless I told her what was wrong. I tried to make something up but she wouldn’t believe me. I broke. I started to weep, and she, understandably, panicked. “What is it?” “Whatever it is we can fix it.” “Tell me, please!”
I said nothing. But after a couple guesses that were way off, she finally came to, “Are you gay?” Thank goodness she could say it, because I was simply not able. I, instead, forced out a yes.
She calmed me down; assured me all was okay with her, that she loved and supported me regardless. I'd never felt such gratitude, and disbelief at the same time. But I felt that fear rise again, as she went to call my dad. I tried to listen in but couldn’t tell what he was saying.
Then my mom said, “Your dad wants to talk to you.” I hesitated, then took the phone and that horrible year was over. He told me he loved me, that it didn’t matter to him if his son was gay.
After about a month I could finally form the words, “I’m gay”. So? Now what?
To my surprise, my parents didn’t want me to change. They asked when and how I’d find other gay kids. I didn’t know, but really didn’t want to. I still had some personal issues to work through as to the morality of homosexuality. I was still grieving the loss I incorrectly assumed in my future, as a husband and father. Did I still want to change?
This was not easy, but it was not traumatic. I worked through it at my own pace, and got to the end and felt satisfied with the results. I could live with how I am; I could follow my nature.
But before I could do that, I needed to tell my family, my largely devout LDS family. I didn’t want an awkward surprise for them, to hear of it by rumor. When told, some reactions were clearly negatively, others gratefully ambivalent, and no negative reaction lasted. One sister, when told I had something important to tell her, assumed I had gotten a girl pregnant and was relieved that I was “only” gay :-).
Then there were my friends. I had a strong circle of friends, and wasn’t too worried about them, but it was still tough. Though we were all very close, they had no idea. How would they treat me differently? The worst I got was an “As long as you don’t hit on me”. No worries there :-).
Now I was out, and, in retrospect, the worst part, for myself, was all the time I wasted in worry and procrastination. But I was not near out of the woods yet...