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In Honor of National Coming Out Day
Penned By: The Dapper Boi Crew
It feels like a lifetime ago, but there was a time that I used to date men. I only had one serious boyfriend, but I definitely had my fair share of dates that never went anywhere. Then I moved here to San Diego from upstate NY after college. Within a year, I was in my first relationship with a woman. We kept our relationship a secret for 4½ years, and when we broke up, I was heartbroken. I needed my family and knew it was time for me to tell them the truth.
I feel that people shouldn’t need to “come out” anymore. There shouldn’t be so much pressure on selecting a gender to date. Let people live their authentic lives without judgment. Let people love who they want to love. I am so happy to see that times are changing. I know that with a little confidence and community, we will get there!
Unfortunately, I was out-ed by a "friend" in college. My mother already had some suspicion and asked me numerous times if I was gay, but I would shrug it off. Fortunately, she and my family have always been very supportive of who I am. I am extremely grateful, because this is not the case for so many people in our community.
I was 22 years old and far away from home living with my “friend” in Myrtle Beach, SC. When things took a turn and a breakup was inevitable, I had nowhere else to turn but my mother and father. With a broken heart and crying I picked up the phone. Dialed each number as slow as I could….
Me: Hey mom! (holding back tears)
Mom: What’s wrong?
Me: Crying, sobbing, explaining
By this time my father got on the other phone and was listening with my mom.
Me: So, do you still love me?
Dad: You’re our daughter and we love you. And that’s all we know.
Mom: Yep, we love you no matter what. Now let’s get you home.
I became aware that I was “different” at an early age. I was lousy at sports and was teased for having feminine traits, sometimes mercilessly. I remember being beaten up for no reason. Back then, it still wasn’t socially acceptable to be anything other than straight. My loving parents tried to make me “more of a man” not because they hated gay people, but because they wanted me to have a good life.
I learned to gain acceptance by leveraging my talent and intelligence. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was—or who I was supposed to be. I knew that I was attracted to both sexes, and because it was the early 70s, I had experiences with both. But, I was never comfortable saying I was gay or straight. Eventually, I married and raised a family. I committed to my wife, our marriage, and our two beautiful kids. I reaped many rewards from this period of my life, none more important than the love between a father and his children. Unfortunately, divorce was inevitable, and I spent the next decade trying to figure out who I was as a result. I did have a couple of LTRs with men. But, I still felt uncomfortable, like I didn’t fit in anywhere.
Today, I accept that I land somewhere in the middle of the sexuality spectrum. If someone questions my sexuality, my honest answer is, “I’m Vince.” Because in the end, I’ve learned it’s not about “what” we are. It’s about who we are. And I am who I’m supposed to be. I’m finally comfortable. I’m a loving father. I’m Vince.
I remember women catching my attention as early as 5 years-old. I didn’t understand why, because I’d only ever seen men and women together—in real life, in movies, everywhere. During a random conversation with my father once, I said, “One day when I grow up and turn into a boy…” He cut me off right there. He broke the news that I’d never turn into a boy. As a kid, I figured that was the only explanation for liking girls. I’d turn into a man and it would all make sense. But, we never spoke of it again.
Fast forward to high school graduation. I wrote my parents a letter and called all my good friends on the phone to tell them I was gay. I was terrible at not being anyone other than me and couldn’t take it anymore. Those who wanted to stick around were more than welcome, those who didn’t, would spare me and disappear. Best day of my life.