I didn’t really get the chance to come out. I was outed. While I was able to tell a handful of people, it started to get around at school and even to my basketball team, so I left. My girlfriend’s family told my parents, it was pretty bad. I was kicked out of the house before being brought back home. I was prayed over and told it could be a demon inside me. They said I could be fixed.
I swore into the US Army in November 2014. I was 24. I shipped to basic training the following January. In the female barracks, there were four open lesbians. I don’t know if there were any gay men. I do know that we were able to talk openly about who we were and who we loved. Those women were some of the first to know that I was engaged. They were there to push me through the obstacles I faced, no matter who I loved. They were cheering me on, just like I was cheering them on. I think one of the reasons I didn’t join the Army sooner in life was because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I wouldn’t have been able to be myself. I wouldn’t have been able to support my fiancé openly, but rather, constantly look over my shoulder to learn who I could trust, and even then, I wouldn’t have been able to be me. I was in the Army for about 6 months before getting injured and sent home. In those 6 months, I learned more about me than I had in five years. I was able to do that because I was able to be me.
It wasn’t until I moved across the country that my Mom began to realize she was losing me. I learned to be myself and to care less about what other’s thought. Only then were my parents and I able to come to an agreement. I introduced my future wife to my parents, without them knowing what she meant to me. They loved her for who she was, and eventually, they came on board. In ten years, my parents went from kicking me out to paying for my wedding. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. But it got better.
Long Beach, CA