It has been four years since I did the scariest thing in my life and finally embraced my true self and how my story was all along. Before this family dinner that involved penis shaped noodles and awkward cards against humanity. I want to give some background on myself and how I got to this point that took 23 years.
I grew up in a nice Village called Greendale just outside of Milwaukee. I have two older brothers and a twin sister. We were a middle class family that made ends meet, we had our good times and some bad times. We as a family always prevailed because of our Mother who dedicated her life so we can be successful while we grew up. My two brothers were always in sports. Of course just like my brothers I needed to participate in sports to see if I liked them and by no surprise I was horrible. I tried to catch a baseball with my eye when I was six. That was the end of baseball and I faked I had asthma during youth football because I wanted to get out of running laps. Football was a no go. I was never good at sports but thought I needed to fit this mold of what a "boy" was suppose to do at that time and what society makes us believe is acceptable. After my stint with sports I became the kid that played in the woods and made forts with the neighborhood kids and was your average kid but deep down I was living a story that was not mine and as I grew older I started to realize this.
Going through elementary school was fun for me. I loved school and at times was known as the teacher pet because I loved teachers and helping them out. Then 5th grade came along and I started to noticed that I would act differently when trying to talk to the other boys in my class. I became very nervous and would stumble over my words and look like a fool at times. I was confused because this never happened when I talked with the girls in my class. Then I started to look around at lunch one day in 5th grade and I realized I was the only boy at the girls table at lunch. I thought nothing of it. I loved getting their left over rectangle pizza because they hated it and any other food they didn't like. As I got closer to the end of 5th grade I started to get bullied. Boys would always ask me why I liked to hang with all girls and play patty cake and other hand games. I never really gave an answer back at the time besides “because its fun”.
Fast forward to seventh grade going on eighth. This is the time I started to hit puberty and my mind started to act differently. I would still suck at talking to other guys in my class but this time I started to feel differently then when I did in fifth grade. I would say things to myself like “wow, he looks good in those shorts” or “damn wish I had a that body.” These thoughts started to freak me out because that is not what guys are supposed to think when looking at other guys. I would try to blow it off as a weird stage and not how I actually am. I would tell myself “oh Dave you know you like girls, you got this Dave.” I would fight this fight until I watched Jesse McCartney’s music video Beautiful Soul. In this video he would take his shirt off and I remembered in 8th grade thinking “wow he’s cute.” At that moment I knew I was gay. That freaked me out. I was scared because that is not how I was suppose to be. I thought I would marry I nice wife and have three kids and live in a house on a hill with a white picket fence.
As I moved to high school I decided that this was not ok to be gay and I suppressed my true feels so deep down inside of me that I would try and convince myself that I was straight. I would try and watch other “straight guys” and see what they were wearing and try and dress like a “straight” guy. I would be bullied in school by students asking me if I was gay and I would snap and say hell no I would never be that. This strong denial lasted all my years in high school and into college.
When I was in college I continued to convince myself that I was straight and that was the only way my story would go. I would work out constantly because that's what “bros” did. I would have a couple of girlfriends on the way through college. One that was a serious long relationship and it ended on bad terms because I was still fighting with my true identity and how I wanted to live my life.
I had some great times in college but also I hit a very low point in which I didn't think it even mattered anymore. At that moment I looked myself in the mirror and said three words that I was dreading “I am Gay” that was the first time I had ever said those words out loud to myself and the best part was that it felt amazing. I finally opened that door that I closed shut so tightly for so long and embraced my true self. I took ownership of my real story and not the one I plagiarized and tried to make my own. I would go on and tell some of my closest friends in college and all of their responses were “Dave we already know.” I was shocked. I thought I planned this out so well and played “straight” so well. As more and more of my friends knew I struggled with who knew and who didn't know. So I decided to create a facebook post and throw it out there for everyone to see and read and make their own opinion towards it. That moment was terrifying for me. I was scared I would lose friends but I kept reminding myself that this is my story and only I can write it. If people didn’t understand and went their other way then that was their choice. I could not let myself be stopped because of what people thought. This is me and was always me so take it or leave it.
After most of my friends knew that I was gay it was time to plan something in which I could let my whole family know. One night after a brewers game I was in a bar with my brother and his girlfriend. I was getting a drink and let's call her Lisa my brothers girlfriend was standing behind me. She started to talk to me as I was ordering a drink and ask “Hey Dave, are you gay?” Since I had a few drinks and was preoccupied by the bartender I quickly turned around and said “yeah! So what?” Then I instantly realized that she was part of my family and they didn't know yet. I asked her to not tell anyone because I wasn’t ready. Lisa was amazing she stated that she knew already but would keep my secret but said she was hosting a dinner that Sunday and that she could buy penis noodles and make a pasta salad for the dinner and see if anyone noticed. At that moment my worriedness went away and I was thinking that would be so funny and a great way to crack the awkwardness of this whole dinner, it was a go. I was actually going to do this and finally be me.
It was the day of the dinner and as we drove to her house I was worried sick and looked sick. My Mom even asked “Dave are you ok?” I told her “yeah just a little tired”. When we arrived Lisa ran out and gave me the biggest hug, but had some bad news. My brother was cooking the penis noodles (unknowingly) and over cooked them so they fell apart. Funny aspect was shot so now it all fell on me and I was even more sick to my stomach. We sat down for dinner and had a great time. Great food and conversation was happening and for a moment I forgot what I was about to do.
After dessert, we played cards against humanity and I realized that it was almost time for me to tell them my true story and who I am and I was freaking out. As we played cards against humanity I was thinking to myself that today wasn’t the day and I was not going to go through with it. Then I picked up my cards and this is what each card said. Card 1: Gay men Card 2: Gay sex Card 4:Gay Parties. At that moment I laughed to myself and then did the unthinkable. I leaned forward and started to talk. I couldn't believe what was happening I was telling myself to stop talking but I continued. I said “I have to say something everyone, This dinner was set up by Lisa and I because you were all invited to my coming out party…..I’m Gay.” I sat there and looked at everyone. There was an awkward pause and then my Mom leaned forward and said “AND?!?!” I looked at her confused and said what Mom all you have to say is and?. My Mom looked at me and said Dave I knew since you were six and I still love you nothing will change that. I started to cry because all the weight was lifted off my shoulders. All my brothers and twin sister were very supportive and showing their love towards me at this time. I felt so relieved I was now able to turn the chapter in my story and now start the new beginning and finally be my true self.
Your life is your story and only you can write it.
Be you and be true. Don't let others determine how you live your life. Do what makes you happy and your true friends and ones that love and care about you will follow.
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