Wow, where to begin? I suppose I should start with, hey... my name is Jon. I am 28 years old, and I currently reside in Irvine, California. I am originally from Sioux City, Iowa. I consider myself to be a very quiet, shy, reserved type of person. I would like to think that is due to a proper, Midwestern upbringing; however, I think it relates more to my sheltered lifestyle as a child. I am the youngest of two children, and my father passed away when I was 7 years old... leaving my sister with the task of pretty much raising me (since mom had to take on more jobs to cover the bills). I never really felt quite right as a child. I don't like to use the word "normal", because normal for me may mean something completely different to someone else. We all have our own journeys of self-discovery and "body awareness". Every little boy is curious. But I can't say as if I had a true "coming out" experience... all-in-one... wham-bam-done... type of thing. For me, it was more of a journey, and a process.
Here goes... Growing up in Iowa, without a father, left a lot of responsibility to myself, my sister, my mother, and my grandparents. My sister would take care of me after school (if we weren't at day care), and we both would share our time with mom late at night after work, and on the weekends. But even at day care after school... I remember putting on dresses from the old closet...instead of picking out a toy to play with. I just wanted to spin! I could have spun for hours!! But that was just me playing. Wasn't it? I didn't think anything wrong with that. The time for being a kid was quickly ending, and I was being forced to grow up fast. My Grandpa Jack was a huge role model for me... needless to say, he stepped into my fathers shoes. He would take me to my Cub Scout meetings, and even taught me how to drive...in a vacant parking lot, under the age of 7!! haha
My mom's side of the family is from Nebraska. They are your typical farming families; everyone has a role in life. In their minds, you go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, raise a family, etc. I always felt different at the family get-togethers.
When my mom remarried, we moved to a small town of 680 people; I was now 9. Small towns are great when you have friends... but suck if you have a secret. Maybe it's because I lived in Iowa... or the fact that it was a small, rural community... but you didn't see two guys walking together. EVER. It seemed like everyone was boyfriend and girlfriend, and all these couples had strollers filled with multiple screaming little-ones. I remember that the only shows on TV that depicted the gay lifestyle was Will & Grace, and Ellen...both of which depicted the lifestyle as a comedy (which only made small town kids think it's ok to make jokes about it). To say the least, I kept quiet at school. I was already the talk of the town because I was the "new kid". It didn't help matters much that I am artistic... that I love to sing, and am good at it!; that I love to act... I draw/paint/sculpt. Oh, but did I ever go our for sports? Did I even know what sports were!?? No one picked me during P.E. No one asked if I wanted to play during recess. It's no wonder why to this day, I still don't know the concept of most sporting events. I never really had the interest. I would rather be creating something, singing something, being a part of the school play... than dealing with the tormenters on the field/court. Because I didn't play sports, in a small town, I was already labelled. Great.
I remember when I was 12 or 13... I had my own room, and a small 13" TV. I would stay up real late to watch Cinemax (aka "Skinamax") I was developing urges... but it wasn't until one night that I noticed something. I was literally waiting to touch myself until they would show more of the guy on screen. I could have cared less what was going on with the girl... I wanted to see more of HIM! That hit me like a ton of bricks... I didn't release that night. Instead I cried myself to sleep. I had come to the realization that, hey... I think I'm gay...OMG, what is my mom going to think!?!?! When I was 14, I sat my mom down on my bed and told her, "mom... I think I like guys." She immediately welled up with tears, and said, "No you don't. You're too young to know what you want! How do you know? This is just a phase... you'll grow out of it." And that was the end of it. I never approached the subject again... even to this day. I couldn't stand how hurt she was... but also of how neglectful she was of my own hurt, my own fears.
Back in school, I had close friends from choir that looked out for me. But no one really knew what was going on. It wasn't until high school that I found I really couldn't take it anymore. Constantly seeing my best friend bring his girlfriend along on our movie nights. Always asking my friend if she would want to go to Prom with me my Junior AND Senior year... only because I didn't have a guy to ask... I didn't think there even was one to ask. It was hard in high school. Not dating anyone, and seeing everyone else go out on the weekends...while I worked. Granted, I messed around with my best friend in high school... a lot. He was ok with it when I lied to him, telling him I was bisexual. I had no interest in girls, but I was afraid to tell him I was gay. He had a girlfriend, but we fooled around on the weekends, after school... whenever. So I thought he would be more "ok" with me being bisexual... more relate-able for him. It wasn't until my senior year when I finally told him, "dude... I'm not bi, I'm gay!" That crushed me. I lost my best friend... he stopped talking to me that day. He didn't talk to me again until my junior year of college. He regretted acting that way, and I guess just needed to get education of his own?
College was in-and-of-itself one large coming-of-age for me. My freshman year, I pledged a fraternity. In doing so, at one of our events I felt that it wasn't right for them to initiate me, when they didn't know the real me. We sat around a campfire... everyone told what the fraternity would mean to them, or what it has meant for them. My turn... I told them I was gay. I told them my story, and why I wanted to share it with them. Why I didn't want to be alone anymore. I had friends, but I was so weak... so tired of hiding from myself. I couldn't bare to even look up at the guys... my head was down, my eyes were filled with tears. The next thing I knew, I had 20+ guys surrounding me, comforting me, hugging me...telling me that it's ok and that they were so moved that I had the courage, as a 19 year old freshman in college to come out to a group of guys he hardly knew. I never felt so loved and cared for.
It was after that experience, that I felt it was only fitting to tell my sister. I think I was most afraid to tell my sister. She's two years older than me, and growing up was filled with a lot of spats and arguments. Typical brother sister stuff. I waited for the right time to tell her... haha, not really. We were watching TV in her apartment. I sat quiet for a long time, contemplating how I would tell her. Until I finally said, "Can I tell you something?" She responded with... "Jon, you don't need to say anything. I know." I was shocked. I didn't need to tell her? How did she know? Were we on the same page? Did she know I was going to say, "I'm gay"?!? She continued with, "I know you're gay, and it doesn't bother me like it bothers mom. I've always known. You're my brother! I still love you."
From that moment on, we became that much closer. It was a huge relief knowing that she was ok with it. It was even greater to know that I had now told my mom, and my sister... the only people I really cared the most about, and wanted them to know. I really don't care who knows that I am gay... but I want it to be my story, MY experience to share with them. Being outed is a horrible feeling... yeah, I get over it and move on with my life. But it's my story, and my life to share with people. This is why I am choosing to share it with you. I may have rambled on, and on, and on... hehe; but I wanted to give you as much of my experiences as I could. Hopefully you will find something to relate to. It is always so nice for me to know, that I have experienced something similar to someone else. It makes me feel like I am not alone, that I am not a freak... and that others are/were struggling with life just as much as I did.
Whether or not you come out to people... coming out to yourself, letting yourself be YOU and be FREE is most important. Once you discover yourself, you are able to really live life. There is always someone out there who wants to hear your story... someone who wants to be your shoulder to cry on... and I think this site is going to do just that. Empower yourself, and remember that you are not alone.
It only gets better... Hugz!