Before It Got Better

One of the reasons I love getting comments is that it helps me learn who my readers are, which helps me figure out what kinds of posts people might appreciate.  A few of the comments I got on my 5 People You Meet as a Gay Dad post were from younger gay men, maybe a couple even too young to be called “men” yet.  A few said they hoped to have kids someday and one teenager, who’s still in the closet, asked “how I came to be like this”.  If you mean “gay”, then I think I was born that way.  If you mean “a gay dad”, then the answer is much more complicated.  One of the reasons I’m writing a memoir is to detail how I went from a scared gay kid to a happy, fulfilled gay man who thinks all the struggle was worth it.

Here’s a piece I wrote before my kids were born.  I performed it at a reading series here in Los Angeles called Spark.  The theme of the evening was “Surprise”.  And yes, it’s all true.  I’ve never published this anywhere before now, but hopefully, for anyone curious, it gives some insight into how I came to be like this.

“I’m gay.” Two words I didn’t hear much growing up in the 80s.  “You’re gay.”  That, I heard a lot.  That was easy to say.  Everybody said it.  Because you didn’t have to mean it.  You didn’t have to think about what the word “gay” really meant, only that it was bad.  If you said “I’m gay,” you’d better mean it, because then, suddenly, everyone would be thinking about what “gay” really meant.

Being a gay teenager in the 80s meant being terrified, pretty much all the time.  Terrified of not being able to throw a football, of not producing ample quantities of drool over Samantha Fox or Kelly LeBroc, of not laughing hard enough when some kid got called a “faggot” – or worse, of being that kid.

I wanted an adolescence like the horny teenagers in “Porky’s” had, where all that mattered was getting laid.  Getting laid wasn’t even on my five-year plan.  I just wanted to feel human.

My best friend Greg wasn’t helping.  My other friends liked Greg because his dad gave him a Playboy, and when we went over to his house, he let them look at it.  I just wanted to get back to watching MTV’s world premiere of Janet Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle” video, an underrated gem.  I was terrified my friends would suspect something was wrong with me, and sometimes, I had hints that they did.

This being New Jersey, we were all in a bowling league together.  I assigned myself the job of leading a team cheer every week.  “2, 4, 6, 8 who do we appreciate?  You, you!  You’re team number 2!”  One week, this twelve-year-old twit from a rival team came up and asked, “So, are you guys gay or something?”  My friend Dave shook his head, then pointed to me and said, “No, just he is.”  I knew this was his idea of a joke and that he didn’t actually think I was gay, but still, a voice in my head warned, “He’s onto you!  Retreat!  Retreat!”  I eventually stopped the cheers.

One time, Greg and I were hanging out, playing “The Legend of Zelda”.  We’d just uncovered the entrance to the ninth dungeon at Spectacle Rock, when out of the blue, Greg said the most hurtful words anyone had ever said to me.  “I could never be friends with someone who was gay.”  I wasn’t sure what exactly about our quest to save Hyrule had provoked this, but clearly it had been on his mind.  So there it was: my greatest fear emphatically confirmed, underlined and bolded. If I ever told Greg I was gay, there’d be no more friendship.  I’d be sitting alone in the cafeteria, with no one to discuss ALF with and forced to save Hyrule on my own.

Of course, that was 17 years ago.  A lot had changed since then.  I knew Greg must’ve met some gay people in college, that he was probably on good terms with Ned from Accounting.  I was sure he’d seen “Ellen” and “Will & Grace” and Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning performance in “Philadelphia”.  One thing that hadn’t changed in all that time was that Greg and I were still close.  I saw him every time I went back east, and we talked on the phone every few weeks.  But still, my love life was something we never discussed.  If Greg knew I was gay, and he was cool with it, he would’ve brought it up by now… wouldn’t he??

I couldn’t believe I was about to move in with my boyfriend, Drew, happier than I’d ever been, and I was still afraid of being rejected by somebody I considered my best friend.  I realized I hadn’t come as far as I’d thought, that on some level, I was still that scared teenager, full of shame.  And there was only one way to change that.

I mustered whatever courage I had, and I dialed Greg’s number.

Coming out of the closet is one thing at which practice never makes perfect.  Though I’d done it dozens of times by this point, I still made all the rookie mistakes.  Being nervous, assuming the reaction would be bad, and the worst, starting with the words, “I’m sorry…”.  In this case, it was, “I’m sorry to do this over the phone,” which, although true, was far too dramatic a setup.  As was what followed: “Greg, I have something very important to talk to you about, something I’ve needed to say for 17 years.” Then, I stopped.  How the hell do you go from there to “I’m gay!”?

Greg knew something was up.  He was totally silent. Too silent.  Too long.  Finally, I just said it.  “So… I’m gay!”  Still nothing. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t bear the quiet, so I kept talking.  “It’s been a really long process, and I hope you’re not hurt that it took me so long to tell you, but that’s more a reflection on me than on you and, hey, have you seen Philadelphia?”

“It’s okay. You can stop,” he said.  He took a long pause. “It’s fine. I’m cool with it. I’ve… I’ve kind of been going through the same thing.”

WHAT?!?!?

“I’ve been… you know, questioning.”

Oh my God. He couldn’t even say it. Here I was apologizing for being so slow in coming out, and it turned out he was even further behind in the process. He hadn’t even accepted himself yet. His voice was shaking.  He was petrified.

It became clear that Greg had been questioning his sexuality for years – and that his question had pretty much been answered. But he hadn’t told anyone. Anyone.

I tried to be supportive, I tried to say all the right things. I told him about Drew, and about how happy I was, hoping he’d see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I reminded myself that when he answered his phone a few minutes earlier, he had no idea that his lifetime of hiding was about to end. We talked for half an hour, and it was easily the most open talk we’ve ever had, and then we said goodbye. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, and besides, I was still a little overwhelmed myself.

I had certainly considered the possibility that Greg might be gay. If there was one person I’d ever known who was even more secretive about his love life than I was, it was him. His dad’s Playboy aside, girls and sex were subjects the two of us never discussed, and I think that’s part of why we became such good friends, though I guess I always assumed he was doing me a favor.

But somewhere along the way, I dismissed my suspicions. I mean, come on, the guy was in his 30s now. He had to be straight. The only other possibility was that he was gay and even more in the closet than I was. What were the odds of that?

I thought back to what he’d said that day at Spectacle Rock. “I could never be friends with someone who was gay.” And then I remembered what he said next: “Could you?” Suddenly, I realized that his statement hadn’t been motivated by hatred, but by fear. It was a possibility I didn’t even consider at the time. Back then, I was crushed. And I had to respond. But how? I was caught off-guard. I was afraid. All I could say was, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

And what followed was seventeen years of “I don’t know”. It seems absurd now.  All that time we were both struggling in private, we could’ve been there for each other, had someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone to make us feel human.

Growing up gay was hell, and there’s nobody I would rather have gone through that with than him. If only we’d known. If only we hadn’t been so afraid.

In the weeks that followed, Greg and I talked a lot.  I felt like we got to know each other for the first time.  Not only was I seeing a new Greg, but Greg was becoming a new man, day by day.  Within a week, he’d come out to his whole family.  A few days later, it was his 31st birthday, and he gave himself the best present he could think of.  He took a dozen of his closest friends out to dinner, and he made a big announcement to the whole table.  In an instant, his hiding was over.

Greg didn’t have any bad experiences coming out.  No rejection, no hostility, no drama.  Just like with me, the fear was so much worse than the reality.

And during his whole coming out marathon, he had to make one really hard call, to his best friend from college.  When Greg shared his news, his friend got quiet at first, and Greg started to panic.

Then the friend cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and said, “It’s okay.  I’m cool with it.  Actually, I’ve kind of been going through the same thing.”

Me (l) and Greg (r) at the Simpsons ride, 2008

89 comments on “Before It Got Better

    • Thanks for writing. I feel like there are probably a lot of stories like ours. Our shared secret was probably one of the things that made Greg and me so close all that time, even though we didn’t know it.

  1. You have a gift for resonating with people. That was a beautiful post, I related to it just thinking back on how horrible it was to be a teenager!

  2. I was a teen a decade ahead of you and Greg.
    I too wish that I’d had a friend to relate to at the time.
    This inablility to form deep and meaningful friendships, I feel is a direct result of being forced into the closet by a culture that definitely does not understand that being gay is just like being straight, with the only exception being who we are attracted to.
    We have the same basic wants and needs for love and friendship, we just don’t have the opportunity to express ourselves in order to form those friendships and relationships.
    I didn’t begin to come out until 2 years ago, but every time I read a story like this one, I’m reminded of just how difficult it is to live in the closet and how incredibly liberating it is to come out (even when it’s difficult and must be done over and over again).
    Thanks for being here.

    • Thanks, Stephen. And congratulations on coming out. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but also the most important. I’m glad the world is changing, and the more of us who share our stories, the faster it’ll happen.

      Wishing you lots of happiness…

  3. I love this post and I wish that every child struggling with their sexuality could read it and “get it”
    I have a family member who is gay – no news to us – been with the same man for almost half his life
    he has struggled with it – he has accepted it – he has lived it
    I think he has recently discovered that we (his closest family and friends) celebrate it with him and now he can fully enjoy it.

    it’s the way it should be

    • Thanks. It sounds like you’ve never talked openly with this family member. Why not let him know you celebrate it with him? I’m sure he’d appreciate the support and he’d probably be relieved to have it out in the open.

      • we have over the last few years. I think he took alot of grief from an older generation of our family (his generation) … my parents, aunts and uncles, have been accepting, but quietly … my generation, my cousins and I, are all very vocal in our support and get a kick out of finding themed tees to wear to holiday gatherings. next week I sport my “some chicks marry chicks”
        I think it’s our “in your face” type of support that has made him realize that there are more of us supporting him than are against him

  4. Thank you for sharing this story! It’s so well written! I actually started to cry inside me now.
    I don’t really know what to say, I don’t know how to express myself the way I want… I have the words, but how can I get them out? It’s kind of a weird situation, imagine – you and your best friend couldn’t talk about something you both needed to talk about, you could’ve helped each other..shared your thoughts. But it isn’t easy when you’re afraid, when it’s not easy to be who you are. Now I’m watching “It get’s better” – videos and read coming out stories and so on. I try to find confident, I try to find my courage again. Three years ago I was so happy, and I felt so ready to tell someone my secret. I wanted to be free, and most of all – I wanted to be myself. I told my friend, and I’m so glad I have her. She’s there for me, no matter what! But my mother…oh,that was a bad time. I want to tell you about that, but I can’t get myself to write it here. But, I regret being so happy and ready to tell, so bad. Now, I’m even more scared, I’m hiding more, and I’ve tried to shut my feelings of. I’ve told my self that I’m kidding myself..That is not how it’s supposed to be! Because of a couple of days three years ago, I struggle even more. I’m so glad that you have this blog. i admire you! And some day I can look back and say “Well,it’s so much better now!” …I should stop writing now, I just…Thank you.

    • I’m sorry to hear that coming out to your mother went so poorly, and I understand why that made you retreat back into the closet. But I’m glad you have a friend who knows the truth. That’s what you need the most – a support network. Find other people you can talk to. People who’ll relate to you. Other gay people your age, and preferably in your area. I can tell you from experience – hiding won’t change who you are. You need to accept and love yourself for who you are, and if your mother can’t help you do that, then find people who will. They’re out there.

      Best of luck. I’m so glad my blog gave you a bit of hope. It really does get better.

  5. Touching post! I am in my early 50s and I told all of my high school friends that I was gay almost 30 years ago. None of them ever spoke to me again… that is, until recently. With the advent of Facebook and a decided shift in society, now they are coming out of the woodwork to get back in touch with me to let me know that “it’s OK with them.” I’m never sure how to react. To say I have no resentment would be a lie, but to let that resentment rule my life or preclude some wonderful reconnections would almost certainly be a mistake. I am working through how to change my perspective. This was a wonderful reminder that by being patient and kind and telling one’s truth, it does get better in some very unexpected ways… ya just never know who you might be helping… Great post!

    • I can’t tell you how much I admire your bravery for coming out when you did and for staying true even as your friends rejected you. I think you’re right about letting go of the resentment and forgiving them. People do change, and it’s better to encourage them to change than to perpetuate the ill will by rejecting their olive branch. But by all means, be honest with them. Tell them how hurt you were in the past and how it sucks that you sacrificed 30 years of friendship. As long as you follow that up with forgiveness, you’ll both be glad it was said. … I think – gee, i didn’t mean to turn this into an advice column. What do I know? 🙂

  6. Touching post! I am in my early 50s now, and I told all of my high school friends that I was gay 30 years ago. None of them ever spoke to me again… that is until recently… With the advent of Facebook and a decided shift in society, they are coming out of the woodwork to reconnect and let me know that “it’s OK with them.”

    I’m never sure exactly how to react. To say I have no resentments would be a lie. But to let any resentment rule my life or preclude some chance to educate, start over, or just enjoy the contact with an old friend would almost certainly be a mistake. So I am working on my perspective.

    This post helped me realize that it does get better, and sometimes it’s the actions we take that makes it better for someone else… a friend, a parent, their children… you never know when you’re creating a miracle.

    Thanks for being one of the miracles.

  7. Wow, great story. Thanks for sharing that with us. It is amazing how the story came full circle. Your friend Greg was crying out for help but so were you all those years ago. But the fear got the better of you both, Well done on coming out to Greg all those years later. That was very courageous of you and equally courageous of Greg to come out to you. Bravo!

  8. Wow. What an amazing piece of writing. You are so very talented! And sooo gay! Love it!!! (wow I use a lot of exclamation points).

    I bet this killed at your reading show!

    • Some people gasped pretty loudly. It was wild. I thought the audience would be far too jaded and see the “surprise” coming – especially since that was the theme of the evening. 🙂

  9. As a fellow Zelda-loving, gay teen from the 80’s who couldn’t throw a football 20 feet… let alone the perfect spiral like all the other boys… all I can say is awesome post today! (As usual)

    Thanks for the dose of inspiration.
    I’m a gay father of teenagers and tonight I’m going to remind them to reach out to someone at school tomorrow who may need a friend.

  10. This story gave me goosebumps. I’m a middle school teacher, and I find myself simultaneously aching and rejoicing for my students as they grapple with their identities. The world can be such a cruel place when you’re a teenager (or an adult). I admire your resilience, your honesty, and your courage.

    • I’d imagine – and hope – that middle school has changed a lot since I was there. Of course, kids will always be grappling with their identities in one way or another. How fascinating that you always see kids in that same stage of awkward adolescence. Sounds like they’re in good hands. 😉

  11. Oh jerry–you made me cry–i never knew the whole story–but i was one of the people at that dinner–it was a wonderful and moving experience and I am so honored that greg felt comfortable enough with us to do it–i do remember us being speechless, but not surprised–i must remember to tell him– 🙂

    • I forgot you were there! I’d love to hear more about how it went down. I only know the basics. I’m still so stunned and proud of Greg that he did that. What took me ten years to do he accomplished in about a week. 🙂

  12. Wow. What a powerful read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    I suspect we are about the same age, and I will forever look back on high school with regret, wishing I had done more to support my friends who were struggling to come to terms with who they are. When I think of how alone and afraid they must have felt, I wish I had done something. I was never the one to throw around slurs, but I didn’t do anything to stop them, either.

    A classmate of mine was diagnosed HIV postivive during our senior year (in a small town, mind you.). I’m sure you remember all to well the attitudes about the disease back then. Rumors swirled around the school like a cloud of malice and intolerance. When I’d hear people talking about it, my mind would scream “So what if he’s gay? How can you be so cruel?” All I ever managed to do was help perpetuate his cover story as to how he got the virus, and tell people to just leave him alone.

    It wasn’t enough, and I will always wish I had done something. Been brave. Stood up.

  13. I am a straight female mother of 2 and you know what, It doesn’t even matter…this story made me emotional, smile, happy and full of joy because we are all people, and you are a fabulous, open hearted, honest writer who can connect with ANYONE! thank you!

  14. It is really true what they say, it is the fear/anticipation that is worse than the actual outcome.
    With anything.
    I just love that your story involves be able to understand another person’s “fear” and have them comforted to know they are not alone!

  15. Nice story. I’ve experienced this a lot. It’s like when I’m opening to my close friends that are boys, they end up opening that they too are like me, gay. It’s good though — to be yourself and never have to hide. Especially when you have your friends to be at your side and being accepted for who you are.

  16. Beautiful post, and amazing blog, Jerry! Congratulations on taking the steps needed to be true to yourself. My best to you and your family. –Fred

  17. Fantastic..just fantastic. The way you write with such clarity and in such a way that so many people can get something from your posts is just wonderful. I love coming back to your blog. Take care!

  18. I’m fascinated by this idea of male friendships between gay guys who don’t yet know or can’t yet say they’re gay. Did you have mostly male friends? With the exception of one or two male friends, I mostly traveled with the ladies in middle and high school.

    • I’ve always had male and female friends, though in a lot of ways the female friendships were easier. The funny thing is that my friend Greg had that same experience twice – with two friends from college who also came out to him in return. I only mention one in the essay, but I definitely think there’s a pattern there.

  19. This is fantastic. I loved reading this. This past summer I was working 15 hour nights at a poker tournament with a friend I met in a college class the year before. He came out to me, and I think he chose to do that because I was so distant from his usual life and circle of friends. I was so proud of him for doing so and so honored.
    Thank you for sharing your story tough. It was beautiful.

  20. I can’t even imagine what you guys had to go through. I come from a country where people are still aggressive when it comes to gay people so many young men and women in your case are hiding. There’s of course a ‘movement’ of people such as I am, who have gay friends and more than OK with this, but some of the ‘monkeys’ with no education or common sense are still against this.

    I’m a woman and, while I don’t like seeing people of the same sex kissing for instance (well, I’ve been brought up in a conservative family), I don’t comment or make them feel bad either. I’ve seen many people of the same sex holding hands in NYC for instance and it brought a smile to my face. Love is important in life and love doesn’t care about sex, religion or anything else.

    I have few gay friends of my own and they were pretty scared to admit this and still hide it from a lot of poeple, knowing they’d be rejected. They are amazing men and I truly feel blessed to have known them.

    Let’s hope we’ll be more and more supportive and understanding of the people who think and love differently, as long as they are the good people they are 😉

    • Thanks for writing. It’s people like you – straight allies – who are helping the world change for the better. I have a feeling your aversion to seeing same sex kisses is probably just because you’re not used to it. I assure you it’s as natural and wonderful as seeing people of the same sex holding hands.

      • Jerry, thank you for your kind words. I don’t feel an ‘aversion’ it’s just that I have a ‘weird’ feeling. It does come from my conservatory upbringing, that’s for sure.

        Even so I am pleased to see people holding hands for instance and show affection, since it means they are HAPPY as a couple and that means a lot. True love is indeed hard to find and it doesn’t always take into account that we’re both male or female. This is why I am ‘ally’ as you call us. I value love and really enjoy seeing people who have found it 😉

  21. As someone who has been in one of those cheesy but fabulous “it gets better” videos, I can only hope that one of our youth, one who needs to read it, finds their way to this post. I know a couple of young people I’ll be sharing it with. Because it really does get better, but on it’s way there? It can suck.

    • Thanks for sharing. I’ve been surprised to hear from young people who are struggling with coming out today the way I did 10-20 years ago. I would’ve thought things had changed and it wasn’t such a big deal anymore, but clearly fear is fear. All I know is the more people come out and share their stories, the more comfortable others will be doing the same. Thanks for making one of those cheesy videos. I should probably do one myself.

  22. I’ve been enjoying your blog. Great posts. I have a handful of kids at home (all older now) and one of the girl-children is gay. She came out to everyone when she was still a teenager in high school but really, we’ve known since she was about 6 because like you, she was also born that way.

      • I didn’t know – but I didn’t not know. I simply didn’t spend time thinking about whether or not my children were gay because it didn’t matter to me. I spent a heck of a lot of time hoping they were happy and felt safe and loved. Did I occasionally wonder? Sure, but I always came back to, it just doesn’t matter. As long as they are happy and feel safe and loved in their world, then life is good. It was only after my son came out that realized that to some people it really did matter and I worried about him feeling (and being) safe. But I knew he was happy and I knew he was truly and completely loved. So, I cannot change others only my reaction to them.

      • My reply below has a line “I cannot change others, only my reaction to them” – just to clarify; that refers to people who have a problem with the fact my son is gay. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn as, like most parents, you can criticize me, but don’t say anything negative about my children!

  23. I wish your text wouldn’t make me feel so uncomfortable . Because even at 30 I’m still a teenager , I’m stuck in this situation . It’s idiotic I know but I can’t say the words . Liberal parents , not the first in the family , it doesn’t matter , I can’t say it . I go to work and then I go home , i lost my friends because I refused to go out with them , they would talk about their relationships and why I don’t have a boyfriend (my grandfather did that until I stopped visiting). One after the other they are starting to get married , having families and I’m so jealous , it’s really not pretty.I’m tired of being lonely , I feel like I just missed my moment and this is it .

    • Please don’t despair. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I turned out gay. I can’t imagine how my life would’ve been otherwise – certainly not the same and not nearly as interesting and, ultimately, fulfilling. I’m not sure where you live, but there are gay people everywhere. In some less accepting societies, they just have to be better about hiding. Please try to find someone – anyone – who you’d be comfortable coming out to. It makes all the difference in the world once you can be honest about who you are. And at 30, you’re still very young. You have all the time in the world to find love and have a family if that’s what you want. Right now, just focus on finding some support. Good luck.

  24. Your post made me cry. Not because I’ve gone through the exact same thing but because the feeling of being alone is very easy to relate to. For years I felt like something was awry or missing and then I met my boyfriend. Even though we weren’t dating (for about 6 years) it felt good to know that somebody out there was having the same issues as me. We were both undergoing a lot of pressure by peers, our folks, and just people in general.

    We actually didn’t have a fight until we started dating…and when we do it’s normally finances (isn’t it always?) But that’s because money is tight. He’s paying off his debts and our bills, I’m paying the rent and groceries.

    Just knowing that somebody is undergoing the same problems can make it easier if not better and hopefully more of our youth (not just the ones who are gay, or curious) are able to find somebody who they can relate to. It would encourage them to be true to themselves more often and not just do things that their friends do.

    • I’m so glad you can relate. When I was a kid, I thought there was no one like me and no one who’d ever understand me. Now I know there are more than I ever would’ve imagined, if only I’d been able to reach out. I’m really hoping to get that message out to any confused gay kids out there.

  25. Okay, Jerry. I was doing fine until I started reading all these people’s comments. After reading several, it’s easy to get a bit emotional! It’s apparent after reading how you’ve affected other people by just sharing your story. You’ve undoubtedly inspired many people, myself included to continue to live up to our truest selves. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable and sharing this story. I’m so grateful that I didn’t allow the fears that I too shared, to dictate how I’d live my life. I’ve found that ever since accepting and loving who I am wholeheartedly, I’ve been able to have better relationships with others and also attract the right types of people into my life. I look forward to following more of your posts, and you’ve also inspired me to get back to writing on my blog. Thanks again for being you and for being an inspiration.

    • Thanks for this comment, TK. It made me so happy. I’m so glad you’ve taken control of your life and found such contentment. And if I inspired you to blog more, then hooray! The more we share our stories, the more we can help people out there who are struggling with their own identity. Thanks for writing.

  26. So yeah, I’m that Greg. Let’s just get that out of the way. I read your piece a few years ago, but this is the first time I am reading it here.

    And although I have told you before, I still want to say again that I am so sorry for saying that I couldn’t be friends with someone who was gay. As you know, I don’t even remember saying that but I do not doubt your memory for a second. Well about that anyway, since there are a few things your memory got wrong…

    – I did not come out to 12 people at once. There were five people at that birthday dinner table. But yes, I came out to a ton of people over the course of a week or so.

    – We did not discuss ALF in the cafeteria. Maybe at bowling league or over the phone. Maybe.

    – There wasn’t a college friend that I had a similar coming out phone call with. It was two friends actually. Crazy, right?

    See, I’m still such a jerk of a friend making corrections on your website. But we both know that I like to be right all the time. “Do you slow down during intersections even when the light is green?” “No.” “You’re supposed to.” Remember that one? Geez, why are you still friends with me?

    Probably the same reasons that you are friends with me. You’re smart, funny, sweet and always want to do the right thing. You do think I’m funny, right?

    Love,

    Greg

    PS – I’m not gay.

    PPS – Don’t tell Michael.

    • Five people? Wimp.

      I definitely remember the intersection comment. I have total recall on your obnoxiousness, just not on who I talk about ALF with, I guess.

      But I forgive you for what you said, of course – and I understand. I probably said the same thing to a bunch of people back then, and you certainly weren’t the only friend who made homophobic comments to me when I was in the closet. It’s just what we did back then, when we were young and stupid – and scared.

      I don’t enjoy repeating that detail of the story because I know you have so much guilt about it. If I thought anyone would come away with a negative impression of you because of it, I wouldn’t include it. But I think everyone gets it, and if they don’t, let me stress that Greg is a wonderful, loving, caring friend who’s no more of a jerk to me than I am to him – and that’s just the way we like it.

      Thanks for letting me post this.

      • Yep, I think we all got that. Comments were made from a place of fear. It doesn’t make them right, but I believe fear is something we can all understand. That’s why I fight so hard for education, and bringing gender identity programs into schools. Take away the fear, replace it with self-acceptance. 🙂 We don’t hate Greg, or the Greg’s of the world… we just hope they learn to find love and acceptance themselves.

      • Eh, I don’t have that much guilt. We both turned out pretty amazingly.

        More importantly, can you edit out typos from comments? It looks like you did with yours….can you correct a few of mine. Thanks.

  27. Oh goddess, I’m speechless. And I am in tears.
    Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it with us.

    ”  One of the reasons I’m writing a memoir is to detail how I went from a scared gay kid to a happy, fulfilled gay man who thinks all the struggle was worth it. ”
    This is amazing..

  28. I can only wish that I will be as bleesed and as proud as you when I look back on my life after a few decades. This is another teen Jerry who happens to have a different name and who happens to live overseas, where things seem way less bright. Thank you… Following your blog made me realise that there are many more people who have shared this experience with me. I can somehow feel connected to you, regardless of the fact that I live in the middle east, where I have to endure much even more hate because

  29. I can only wish I will be as blessed and as proud as you when I stop to look back after a few decades from now. This comes from another teen Jerry who happens to have a different name and who happens to live overseas, where things seem way less bright. Thank you… Following your blog made me realise that there are many more people who have shared this experience with me. I can somehow feel connected to you, regardless of the fact that I live in the middle east, where I have to endure even more hate because of what the world has of prejudices on another part of my Identity. May your beautiful family be always blessed.

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