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gay pride merchandise

ON COMING OUT

After two hours of talking I finally took a deep breath and looked into the eyes of the man I hated. The cold eyes of my father looked back at me and they began to tear up.

My father was crying.

This was not was supposed to happen… this was not in my plan. He was supposed to rage and scream and throw me out of the house. But now he was crying. What the hell was I going to do? The day I came out to my mom and Dad was one of the toughest days of my life. The truth is I really thought  I hated my dad. I was wrong. I loved him. I really only ever wanted him to accept me, to be proud of me. I just didn’t think that was possible. Especially now that he couldn’t even look me in the eyes. I hated myself and I wanted to die.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was gay. I may not have known what to call it and for a long time I probably wouldn’t have even associated it with sexual attraction. But something was different. I was acting from the time I was a child and one of the very first jobs I ever had was playing a sick kid in some bad TV show and Alec Baldwin was giving me mouth to mouth resuscitation. Alec Baldwin! I couldn’t wait to get to work. I would sit and stare at him all day long. And I couldn’t stand not to be around him. I think I was eight years old at the time.

When I started high school I was a full-fledged television star and girls had my pictures pinned up on their bedroom walls. I was a teen heartthrob for God’s sake, untouchable. But it didn’t matter. Somehow THEY knew. Years before I’d ever experienced the first amazing brush of another mans lips across my own somehow THEY KNEW. I’d hear those words shouted across the hall, or scribbled across my binder…“ACTOR FAG.” They were like razor blades across my soul.

How could they know? Maybe it was the terror I barely held at bay in gym class. Horrified to be left out but maybe even more horrified to be asked to play… then they’d REALLY know. After gym came the locker room, even worse, wanting so desperately to see but so scared that with one look everyone would KNOW.

Know what exactly? That I was flawed? That I was the sick homosexual deserving of God’s retribution in the form of AIDS that my mother talked about? Maybe.

 A few years after that, when I was 20, I was outed in a major tabloid magazine. Shortly before that I made the long drive down to sit in front of my parents and tell them I was gay. I thought, sitting there, wondering if my dad would ever look at me again that my life was over. It was only the beginning.

 My dad and I are so incredibly close today it’s hard to imagine the fear I’m talking about. Coming out has lead me on the most extraordinary journey of discovery and usefulness I could ever imagine. I have learned to love SO well and I am SO proud of the life I live.

I have long held that those of us who are gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender have been given an extraordinary gift because it forces us to go inside and decide once and for all that what is inside of us is good and if we have anything at all to give the world we are going to find it somewhere along that journey and we are going to show it to the world in a declaration of brilliant defiance against society and its rules. And we only go looking because our sexuality forces us to. How lucky are we? But it’s easy to forget the pain which forces us to go looking in the first place.

I’m writing this after reading a post of yet another suicide. This time 19-year-old Zach Harrington who, according to a report in the Dallas Voice, took his life after attending a “hate-filled city council meeting” in his small town in Oklahoma.

Zach,

I think I know what you must be feeling. You’re terrified and you think it will always be like that. It won’t. The world seems so hard and you feel so different and so dirty inside. You are not.

Man, I want to put my arms around you and promise you what I know beyond the shadow of a doubt to be true; you are the most awesome of all creations. You are loved beyond imagining by a creation that has made you unique and special so that you will carry a unique and special message to everyone you meet along the way. THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD LIKE ZACH! There never has been and there never will be and we cannot allow a world that doesn’t see that. You are whole perfect and complete, right now, exactly as you are, and I cherish a world that knows how lucky it is to have Zach Harrington in it.

I love you. We love you. Just hang on.

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