I’m a gay man that’s it. Gay to me—it’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a choice. It’s just how I identify. I’m wearing my pride shirt because I’m proud of who I am.
[My highest points in my journey] have just been being my true self and not having to hide. There was a time when I was in the closet, but it is liberating when you decide you’re going to live as your authentic self and just be true. To me it was very freeing in the sense that, I knew I was living as my authentic self and I wasn’t hiding any a part of myself. I’m actually sad that I didn’t come out sooner. Even then I didn’t tell my family until much later. I always knew I was gay. I mean, I always knew I was different but I didn’t know what way I was different until I was a little bit older and you kinda learn about things and go through puberty. That’s when you figure things out. I knew that I was different prior to that, you know what I mean? I remember being 5, and being very “homey” (laughs). I still love to cook!
My dad was gay.
My parents were high school sweethearts. They married and I was the honeymoon baby. Literally, they married around Christmas and I came along nine months later. For me, I knew the term “gay” from 10 years old and what it was. When my dad left us, our family, I was about 10. It was no secret, my mom was very open about what happened. He [my dad] even pulled us aside and was like, you know, I’m leaving your mom and I met somebody else. My dad explained it just as “he liked other boys.” Anyway, long story short, it’s something my family grew up knowing. [My dad leaving] was one of the reasons I stayed in the closet for so long. I knew that it broke up my family. I was scared because I didn’t know how my mom or my siblings would react. Also, I grew up in a small town so if people knew you were gay you’d get bullied for it. I got picked on for being gay before I even knew I was gay.
[My low points] have just been struggling with whether or not I was going to come out. I already knew I was gay, but just about how other people would perceive me when I did come out. I grew up in a small Mormon town, so [gay] was negative. We were already bullied enough for having a gay dad. They would say things like, “your dad is gay so you must be gay.”
When I did finally come out though, my mom was very accepting.
She said “Thank you for telling me, you know I will always love you. This doesn’t change anything. The only thing is, I want you to be careful. I don’t want you to end up like your dad.” My dad ended up dying from AIDS. That was only thing that she had to say about it and I didn’t take it any other way. She just kinda left it at that in mom-mode, because it was uncomfortable. Clearly, I wasn’t dating girls in high school and even when I moved away and gone to school she never met anybody that I was dating so I think for her it was kinda nice to see that true side of myself. The normal side of me. If I have one regret it’s that I never gave her enough credit for being a really good mom and loving her child for what a parent is supposed to love a child for.
My family never saw my homosexuality as a reason to reject me even though my dad was gay.
There’s always been a little pug spark somewhere in my world. My grandfather had a pug and so I’ve kinda just always loved them. My first relationship was with somebody named Jeff and we got a pug and his name was Otis. Then Jeff and I broke up because he was a cheating asshole, and then we literally co-parented Otis. He would take him during the week and we would alternate custody of this pug. We really loved this dog. This went on for 6 months and then he took a job in Portland and Otis went with him. He was the one that officially adopted him. Even after he left, I still sent Otis care packages until eventually we [Jeff and I] had a falling out.
When I came out to my brother at Thanksgiving, I told him Jeff wasn’t my roommate. He was my boyfriend and Otis was ours. I told him it broke me and I became really lonely. I don’t know if you’ve ever stayed up late and got drunk with your brother, but that’s what we did that night. And that night he was like, I’m gonna get you a pug. I just thought it was drunk talk, but I’m not kidding you, the next morning he woke me up at 8 o’clock and had looked at Craigslist and circled ads for pugs in the paper. And then we got in his truck and drove around to different places that were selling pugs. We had looked at different pugs all day and we were really tired. At the last place we went to they brought out two little girls, even though I was sure I wanted a boy dog. And one of them was just kinda sleepy but the other one, Bella, picked me. So I brought her home.
So my brother literally gave me this pug as a gift for coming out and telling him the truth.
Bella was diabetic and caught an upper respiratory infection, so she passed away very quickly. I said I was never going to get another dog after that. After two weeks it was really quiet and lonely so I asked my brother if we could go look at pugs. I really wanted another pug. And he told me “Funny story, me and Crystal got a pug and we checked to see if her sister was available and she was. She’s yours if you want to come pick her up.” So I got Laila from my brother too and now I have a family of pugs. My brother just didn’t want me to be alone. My pugs are my family and they’re gifts from my family so I really consider them to be a real part of my journey for that reason.