Please welcome our second contributor to The Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Kade Boehme. Kade shares a very personal story about his own coming out with us today, and there’s also another chance to win a $20 Gift Card for Dreamspinner Press (the first can be found HERE – Deadline Midnight PT 5/21/14).
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.
Homophobia. Obviously it’s a strange concept to me since, well, I’m the homo that’s being phobed. I never understood it. I grew up knowing what the people around me thought of gays. Good lord, my dad would see an episode of Will & Grace coming on and he’d complain about how they were “promoting that shit.” He said the same thing about biracial couples, Jews, Catholics… He was pretty equal opportunity, but I digress.
I knew from such an early age that I liked boys. I said Johnathan Taylor Thomas was cute when I was 7, for heaven’s sake. I was ogling boys in tights in the ballet film Center Stage when I was 12, never giving a passing glance to the girls. I “stumbled” on gay porn at thirteen, and it’s like the final pieces of the puzzle fit together when I realized boys could be together like that.
But my being gay since effing birth came from an innocent place well before I even got what being gay meant. Before my being gay was something sexual, something political, something controversial. Before all of that, I was just the 10 year old boy with a stomach-aching, sweaty-palmed, want-to-see-him-smile-all-the-time crush on his best friend Caleb.
Then, my dad said it. Queer. Hell, I still cringe just as fast at the word “queer” spoken with a southern accent as I do “faggot”. In the south, it’s kinda one and the same. I’d never paid any attention to or understood just who these queers were or who those gays were who were promoting their “shit” in such a way that my father took offense. They were the others. Until I realized, oh fuck, They is actually We.
And I officially didn’t get it. Here I was, thirteen, not understanding why my dad thought something was wrong with it. Didn’t he realize I liked boys like that too? What exactly would I be promoting if I simply… existed?
Eighteen, my dad finds out I’m gay. He tells everyone. Yeah, that didn’t go so well. We haven’t seen each other in 8 years, not since the night he found my copy of Eating Out. Damn that cover for looking like porn. Hmph. Guess it’s good he didn’t find the M/M YA I had. His head would have exploded over some of those early ’00s covers, just sayin’.
In those eight years, I’ve also not spoken with my family—seriously my grandmother used the I have friends who can help with this line…seriously—and my mother and I fell out pretty hard over it.
But something fucking amazing happened in that almost-decade. First, I never ran into others who weren’t accepting. All of my friends, no matter how religious or what family they came from, seemed to rally around me. So as a sample of my generation, they seemed to be indicative of a changing tide. Then marriage equality seemed to grow legs, DADT was repealed, DOMA was overturned. My mom made gay friends.
I still catch myself taking a look around the room if my date is forwardly affectionate in public, still hear my dad’s words in my head and reel from the things my mother and I went through. But I can report, it is in fact getting better. I know my experience isn’t the same as everyone. The changes may even be too subtle for people, but the strides we’ve taken in just a decade… Man, how I wept when DOMA was overturned. It gave me hope. Hope that I may actually get to be married and have those things I was convinced by my family I never would.
I like to think a kid born now won’t have the same experience by a long shot. When he’s eighteen and his dad finds out, his dad may flip but maybe, just maybe, they’ll be solid. Maybe he won’t have to go through kids constantly asking him, “Are you gay?” when they mean they’ll kick your ass if you say yes. Maybe homophobia will be a word no one has to even try to understand.
Maybe he’ll hold his boyfriend’s hand and never even think to check the people around him.
And for the record, those gay friends helped. My mom is now my best friend. So yeah… hope.