By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
I told my mom on October 10, actually, two years later, at 16. It took two years to come to grips with myself. My mother had me when she was 19. I figured she would be cool with it. She never called anybody "sissy" or "fag" or any other derogatory names. My mother is, like, 1970s. But I'm closer to my grandmother, so I said to myself, "I'm gonna tell my grandmother first." I was gonna ask [my mother's] advice. So, I said, "Mom, I would like to tell Grandmother that I'm gay." That was sort of the way I came out. It shocked the shit out of my mother, to say the least.
She had a long battle with me over it. After I came out, every month my mom would ask me if I was still gay. It would turn into a really big fight. I did so much political stuff, working with Project Ten [the nation's first public school program for "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth"], but I regret that now. I got involved in all these campaigns and went up to Sacramento and stuff, and when I came back, my mother got really frightened of me and we got into a big fight. She gave me an ultimatum: "You're either gonna not be gay or you're not gonna live here."
"Mom, I cannot not be gay."
"So then you have chosen to live on the street." I'm still a teenager in high school, and she kicked me out over being gay -- at 17!
I moved to a shelter for throwaway youth for five months. Did the whole what-you-do-when-you-don't-have-a-place-to-live thing. It took me a long time to really level out. I have moved back in with my mother since then. I don't push being gay with her anymore, because when I was 16, 17, 18, being gay was a big part of my life, because it was something new, something that I'm finally okay with. Now that I have been out for five years, I don't hold it in front of her face anymore. Once my mother kicked me out, I had to come out to everybody, because they wanted to know why. I had to come out to my grandparents, my whole family. She kind of outed me. I didn't go to any family functions.
It's a tough road to get that confident. I didn't have a relationship with my father, and I said, "Why would I want to lose both parents?" So I called her up and I said, "Mom, here I am."
LUIS SIERRAis a 20-year-old gay Latino who works as an outreach coordinator at REACH L.A., a youth HIV-prevention organization. "I said, 'Dad, will you go to my wedding?' He said, 'Yeah, if you marry a girl.'" --Luis Sierra
I STARTED REALIZING I WAS GAY AT AROUND 5. I used to cry about being different, and get angry with my parents for making me this way. I'd be like, "God, did they not have sex the right way?" As a gay kid, you question and look at things differently.
When I was in high school, I would be crying in front of my mother, honestly trying to open some kind of dialogue. [My parents] couldn't see that I was crying for help to be gay. I would think to myself, "You don't even know what I'm going through, or that I'm even trying." They would say, "Oh, he has red hair." Or, "What is it with these friends?" Or, "You listen to that music?"And I would be, "That's not it." They would avoid asking if I was gay or not. I kept all the emotions to myself.
I was 14 when my mom asked me, in anger, "You're gay, right?" And then I remember, oh my gosh, I answered, "Yeah, I am, and so what?" Now we have a cool relationship, but it took some time. I don't think my mom was homophobic. Even when she says, "Even if you were a drug addict, I would still love you."
My dad always has known, up to a point. I was known to go out with a lot of á different guys. Of course, he would look, because they had cars and they would come to pick me up. A year ago, I was at the dinner table, and all of a sudden my mom asked, "Will you get married?" "Yeah," I answered, "I want to get married in Hawaii." You know, mix it up. And my mom sighed. My dad said, "Not at the dinner table." And then I said, "Dad, will you be able to go to my wedding when I get married?" He was like, "Yeah, if you marry a girl." "I'm not," I answered. "I'm going to marry a guy." He started shaking his head.
I came out that way because I wanted him to acknowledge me. I know that subconsciously I would provoke him because I did bring guys home. I would just make it very "there" to make my dad uncomfortable. I wanted him to realize that it's not gonna be a phase and that we should talk about it. So when that happened, he literally said, "It's a shame to have a gay son." My dad is a guy who doesn't talk about how he feels, even if he is happy. That was the only time that I heard him express himself. He even began to cry. It hurts. I know I have people who love me for being gay, who acknowledge the fact, who embrace the fact that I know who I am. But it hurts. It really does. Everything I do [is about] my dad noticing. I'm at a point where I have to let go of that, because I can't keep tormenting myself.