When I moved away from home the first time, I actually left the state. I moved to California when I was 19-years-old. I had spent a huge majority of my life being bullied about being different, feminine and gay (even though I had yet to tell anyone I was gay).
When I was in California, I was introduced to a whole new world. People were out, people were proud and some of those people worked with me. I had made friends with lots of people at my employment and we spent most of our time together when we were not at work. I was friendly with the gay staff at work, but I still carried the stigma and hurt from my youth with me. I was too afraid to let them in; to let them get to know me.
The decision to come out…
I had left California two years later, moved back to Oklahoma for a brief stint, maybe 6 to 9 months. One of my best friends from California had moved to Ft. Lauderdale while I was in Oklahoma. I had come out to her and she had told me how wonderful Ft. Lauderdale was and how she worked with a great gay man, who was funny and witty. She thought we would get along great.
I made the decision to move to Ft. Lauderdale, much to my family’s dismay. My best friend and I got a place on the beach and I also got a job where she was working. She was correct about me and her gay friend at work getting along. Although I will admit, when I first met him, he came running down the hallway at their work screaming her name at the top of his lungs. I was a little intimidated, but hopeful.
As time went by, he started to become one of my best friends too. We did everything together. He told me his life story and how he struggled coming out to a religious family. He gave me hope, strength and courage. I decided I would tell my mom’s best friend, who had been like an aunt to me my entire life. I knew she would know how to tell my mom.
The time had come…
We talked for many months on the phone about my mom, my family and how best to tell her. She encouraged me to just tell her the truth, no matter the consequences, because she had faith in my mom and her love for me.
I decided one night it was time to tell her. I walked out to the pay phone (yes, this is how long ago this was), just down from our place on the beach and made the call. At the last minute, I had some uncertainty creep in and decided the lesser blow would be to tell my mother I was bisexual. Of course, she didn't take it well at first and I admit, if I had it to do all over again, I would have just told her I was 100% gay, always was and always will be.
It took some time for my mother to come around, but she has and we have a wonderful relationship. She loves my husband, our children and our life. Actually, I got lucky. I was so jaded by the bullying I had experienced growing up, that I prejudged my entire family. I was selective in who I told. Turns out, 21 years later, they didn't care. They loved me for who I am, who they know me to be. I am their Bryan.
Morale of the story….
Everyone has their own story and everyone comes out in their own time and way. There isn't one perfect way of doing it and you have to do it the way you feel most comfortable and safe. There are always resources available, a hell of a lot more than when I came out. It’s about educating yourself about what is best for you. Just love yourself, trust your gut. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation; you know best. Let your instincts guide you and be true to yourself.
No one can do this for you. You will know when it is right for you. It is nice when our family accepts us for who we are, but we also have to know, we have the ability to have a family of our choosing.
Don’t give up. Keep up the good fight. Be true to you. Love yourself and live your dreams.
P.S. I am still best friends with my friend I met in California and Ft. Lauderdale. I made great friends in both places and am still close with most all of them.
Have a peaceful night!
Johnny Bryan Ward