“I Guess I Was Wrong”
I have often heard that “change” is the only constant in life. Our lives are full of change – jobs, our relationships, even the world we live in seems to change every day. While many of these changes seem beyond our control, there is one area in which we have complete control – changing ourselves. Often, as in my case, the ability to change was not an issue – not realizing (admitting) that I needed to change was.
Let me begin by saying that I grew up in a fairly “traditional” family – parents, one sister and a dog – and a home in suburbia, California. I attended public school from kindergarten through graduation and lived a fairly “average” life. Unfortunately, in the mid to late 80’s (my high school years), there were subjects that just were not discussed in public (or in private, for that matter), among these were the topics of sex and sexuality. Please understand that these were not “bad” or “forbidden” issues – they simply weren’t issues at all – they were “non-issues”. Distinctions in my mind between “gays”, “lesbians”, ”transgenders“ and “transsexuals” were not made – I had them lumped into a common, easier to dismiss category – “freaks”. This label wasn’t something that my parents or teachers formally taught me, it was simply an attitude that I developed through exposure to society in general. It was no different than developing the attitude (as a teenager) that it is cool to smoke, drink or use drugs. The only difference was that the latter were “issues” that were dealt with at home, in school and in the media – “Just say no to drugs”, “smoking causes cancer” and “Don’t drink and drive”. On the opposite end, I was taught that skin color, race and religion did not matter – it was okay to be different in that respect. However, the whole subject of sexuality was, for lack of a better term, “in the closet”.
In high school I developed several friendships, as do most teenagers, one of which has lasted over 17 years. It is this friendship that led me to re-examine a lot of my opinions and beliefs and, in fact, admit (to myself) that I was wrong and needed to change. When my journey of change began, I was 21, recently married and had known my best friend, Jason, for about 6 years. Most stories begin with an event and this one is no different – it begins with a phone call. A phone call at around 2 in the morning, from Jason, telling me he really needs to talk and asking if I could meet him at Denny’s. Thirty minutes later, we are eating and talking when he says something to the effect of, “It’s been a tough week at school, work is hard, I haven’t been eating well lately, I’m bisexual, how’s your food?” Did I hear that right? Bisexual? He wanted to know what I thought, so I was honest – “You had to drag me out of bed at 2 in the morning for this?” I told him I was fine, that he was still Jason to me and everything was okay. We hugged, left and I went home.
But I wasn’t fine. I just had a bombshell dropped on me. I had spent the last 6 years with a freak, letting him become my closet friend – confiding in him, trusting him, loving him – he had become the brother I never had. What was I thinking!?!? WHAM! Another bombshell – what WAS I thinking? This wasn’t some freak, some weirdo, some deviant – it was Jason, my best friend. Someone I not only trusted with my life, but with the life of my child – someone who had been there for me whenever I needed him – through good times and bad, never asking for anything in return except my friendship. Well, even if he was bisexual or gay or whatever, he couldn’t be “typical” – after all, he didn’t meet any of the stereotypes I had always associated with homosexuality. He had to be the exception to the rule, didn’t he? Could my views and beliefs have been wrong all these years?
I took this question seriously – had I been wrong? It was at this point that I did a lot of soul-searching and re-examined a lot of my beliefs. I tried remembering when and where I was taught about sexuality and couldn’t. It was a realization for me – a real wake-up call – how many views and opinions had I adopted based strictly on other people’s views or on second or third-hand information? Maybe I was wrong before, but never again. I would form my own opinions from now on, based on my own research and experience.
That was 9 years ago. Since then, I have continued (with Jason’s help) my education on sexuality. However, it has only been in the last 3 years that I have become more outspoken about my views. My oldest children are in school now and are asking lots of questions. While I will address issues more openly with my children and hopefully avoid the lack of education I experienced, what about all of the other children out there that are in, or will be in, the same position I was? I hope to be able to help prevent that from happening. That is what drew me to PFLAG – the idea that I could be part of an organization that not only offers support for those faced with the reality that someone they know and love is gay, but also goes a step further and provides educational presentations for schools and other organizations. Once I realized I was wrong, I was able to change. I could do it, anyone can – but they have to realize that a change is needed. I want to help bring that realization to as many people as I can.
Meet Bud, PFLAG Phoenix’s former newsletter editor . . .
We’re glad to know you, Bud! Thanks for sharing your story!