So I'm going to do something a little different than what I usually do for National Coming Out Day. I usually just tell the story that's the most controversial and gets the most laughs, because well, it was just ridiculous how it all went down. This time, I figured I'd break it into a few parts. This first section is everything that happened before I admitted that I was gay to myself. I'll include a little bit of an explanation at the beginning before I get into it. I've found that I have some time in the morning to really check things, we're talking like between 7 and 9:30 am here, so I'll try and keep up, but well, who knows. The next few posts are going to be pretty reflective.
I grew up in a very small town in Northwest Ohio called Defiance. As a result of this, I came to have a lot of very specific ideas about things. Later I'd find out it's a problem a lot of people from small towns have. I grew up with a Catholic mother and a Methodist father. My mother was more concerned about burning in hell as a result of not raising us in her religious tradition than my father, so as a result, all five of us were baptized, did first confession, made our first communions, and were confirmed Catholic. My mother always used to say that we could be anything we wanted after we were confirmed, but until then, we were Catholic if anyone asked.
I ran around like an idiot and had a great time. We lived with my grandmother, but she passed away when I was 4. We were pretty much spoiled rotten up until then. We had more toys than we knew what to do with. We never wanted for anything. Even after the death of my grandmother, my parents saw to it that everything was taken care of. We never went hungry, we always had clothes, and we knew we were loved and wanted.
In school, I was smart, and that's apparently all I was. Part of that was because of the coke bottle glasses I wore because of an eye problem I inherited from my mother's side of the family, and the other was my natural clumsiness. If any of you ever read the Babysitter's club, in my family I was known as "the Walking Disaster Area." Because of my inability to play sports, I started to read a lot more, and play a lot of video games. I got a Game Boy and never looked back.
But as time went by, I started to feel like I wasn't like the other guys. I could pretend to think that girls were hot, but well, nothing would ever come as natural as the guys I saw in the hustlers that my father had in the locked cabinet in the basement. I probably started to realize my feelings around 7, but I had no idea what they were. I still liked talking with girls, and we actually had a lot more in common. I was actually better friends with a lot of girls than guys. Of course, I still stayed with the same group of friends I had since first grade, as we all lived in the same area and went to the same church. So that meant we were at school together the whole day, and then Sunday for CCD. It used to be on Wednesday, but they switched it for simplicity's sake.
Probably when I was about 10, I really couldn't take my old friends anymore. It's not that we argued, but they all played sports and were dating. I tried to have girlfriends, but I found that I really just wanted to be friends, and nothing more. There had always been rumors about me being gay, but it was all passive aggressive bullshit. Then again, most schooling is passive aggressive bullshit.
That's pretty much what 8th grade became unbearable. I was just tired of going to school, and dealing with the same bullshit. The same people who would smile and you really couldn't stand. I started noticing that once per quarter I would just have one weekend where I would basically have a complete breakdown. When the first one happened, I was just so confused. I actually found one of my father's guns. It wasn't loaded and I had no idea what kind of bullets the revolver took, but frankly that day, it felt like that was what stopped me from ending it all right there. I went to sleep that Friday night, and I came to a realization: Why do I care so much about what these people think?
I should also mention that there's something that we speak of in my family that we refer to as "the quality." It's something about the 5 of us that makes it possible to kind of fit in, but still remain outsiders, try as we might. We've discussed it at length but we've never been able to really figure it out. For each of us, it happened a little different, but in general, none of the five of us really could make sense of any of it.
Being the second youngest in the family, I had the advantage of watching brothers and sisters escape from our high school, and move onto colleges. After just a few short weeks, it was as if their entire life had changed. They had great friends. They were about a million times happier. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch. So I vowed that I too would have this life. This escape into a better place.
From that point in, I began to laugh at the horror that was my high school and to embrace its madness. I learned to take the entirety of my hometown with a grain of salt. After all, I'd serve my time, get my sad little diploma and get on with the rest of my life, somewhere among the beautiful people. So starting around freshman year, I gradually gave less of a damn about what people who drove their tractors to school thought about me, and I was all the better for it!