Coming Out: Part One

Photo of the author in July 1977 one month after these events transpired.
Photo of the author in July 1977 one month after these events transpired.
The Summer of 1977 I began the process of coming out. A rather pedantic kid, I had spent much of the previous two years at the library in my small hometown of Loveland, Ohio in a desperate attempt to discover what was wrong with me: why did everyone hate me, call me sissy and fag, and why was I attracted to boys and not girls? In the course of those two years I had exhausted the small branch library’s surprisingly copious supply of material on homosexuality, ranging from The Bible to Pat Boone to Kinsey to Freud. Most of it was mindless regurgitation of what little The Bible had to say with no real solutions to the problem I was facing, but I was comforted somewhat by some of what Freud had written in particular a letter to a mother telling her that her son was a normal human. All of this eas going on as Anita Bryant with her SAVE the CHILDREN campaign and her ilk were dominating the mainstream news and talk shows. There were shows like Phil Donahue, Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, and even CBS news presenting more sympathetic and humanistic points of view but not necessarily positive portrayals. The one thing I heard repeatedly was that telling the people one trusted and loved the most was the one thing that changed the lives of these people the most. My favorite teacher in Junior High had been Mrs. Redding who had taken the helm of the Drama Club in my 8th grade year. She was kind and genuinely seemed to care and more importantly talked to me as a person. I really loved her because she was one of the only adults in my life that made me feel good about my self, so a couple of weeks after Summer break started I looked up her phone number and address, then called, asking if I could come to see her. She said yes, then I used the 12mi bike ride to her house to muster the courage to tell her I was gay by assuring myself she would accept me and tell me I would be OK. She was pleasant enough when I got there, then suddenly began talking about Anita Bryant; about how what those gay people were doing was just wrong;about how a friend of hers from college had been exorcised of the demon of homosexuality at an Anita Bryant rally. Exorcised. I was devastated certainly didn’t tell her about me (only in retrospect did I realize she knew that’s why I had come all that way). It was a good thing her husband insisted on driving me home because I probably couldn’t have made the return trip, I was that devastated. Save the children? Yeah, right.

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2 thoughts on “Coming Out: Part One

  1. I was here to my past twice a year to round 1977 and 1979 summertime of bust I was find out had to it myself very close I was gay and deaf…

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