I was born in the mid nineteen fifties, so my story is very common for gays and lesbians of my generation. My father was Jewish and my mother was Catholic. They believed in God, but were not religious zealots.
From my earliest childhood memory, I knew I was different. I didn’t have a label for it until I reached grade school. The playground was always a terrifying place for me, because I feared that someone would find out that I was a “homo”. Wanting the acceptance of my parents and peers, I did my best to fit in. While other boys were athletic, I was artistic. It didn’t take long for the other kids to notice that I was different, so it wasn’t long before I was taunted, teased and tortured. In middle school I felt alone, desperate and afraid.
My art talent caught the attention of the art teacher and soon we were sexually involved. I dated girls all through school, trying to find my straight self. In my late teens I became involved with a Christian youth group, and soon after gave my life to Christ. We were taught that God would change us, and I began daily prayers to be straight. At twenty I fell in love, and married a wonderful Christian girl. After twenty five years of marriage and three Children, I found myself still struggling with being gay. I had managed to keep my marital vows of fidelity, but continued to hunger for the love of a man.
Out of the blue I met a young Christian man who was struggling with the same issues and fell in love. Determined not to ruin my life or his I ended things before they even began. I soon realized that I could not pretend to be straight any longer and sought counseling. Within weeks I found the courage to tell my wife, and to my surprise she took the news well. She was convinced that God would heal me, and soon she was researching conversion organizations. Having confronted the sexual orientation issues at last, I slowly began to find comfort with myself, and decided to tell my three daughters. To my surprise, all of the girls were supportive, but expressed concern for the future of our family.
In my heart I knew that divorce was imminent, but agreed to seek marital counseling. Marriage counseling helped me realize that I could never be free to be myself as long as I continued to play it straight. With new found courage I decided to seek a divorce and live openly as a gay man. I called and told my mother I was gay, and she claimed that she had always known. My boss and coworkers took the news well, and surrounded with me support. While going through the separation and divorce process, I met a wonderful man. With all that was going on in my life, the last thing I thought I needed was to get involved with someone. I tried my best to fight it, as did he, but eventually we came together.
We have lived together now for three years, and life just grows sweeter each day. My three girls and his son have forged a family, and we have found the support of a wonderful progressive Christian church. People often ask me why it took so long to come out. I really don’t know the answer, but I think what held me back was fear of rejection and fear of hurting my family. Gay pride month means a lot to me because I never thought I could live openly as a gay man and be proud of being gay.