Picture it, Hutto Texas, early 2000’s. I was in high school at the time, please note in further re-tellings the date may change. Hutto Texas was a small farming town, population just over 600 with diversity consisting of four Latin families and two black families. The preppy white Baptist made up the majority of the population, but there were a few scattered Lutherans, Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons mixed into the crowd. I already had a reputation by middle school, being only the second male cheerleader in the history of the town, and with my bubbly attitude, most people assumed my sexuality even before puberty. I made no secret that I preferred the company of other young men opposed to those foreign and alien like creatures, young ladies. My friends around me all knew, but I hadn’t felt comfortable enough to come out to my family. My younger brother Kyle probably suffered second most to me, as he was only a year younger than I and as we were in the same school, he would hear most of the gossip.
One Monday I was in my career development class, please don’t be fooled by the name, it was just a work study program where we attended class for an hour and then were released into the public for the rest of the day. Our teacher, Mrs. Dana Alleman, a friendly and dynamic home economics professional usually was juggling twenty different things and was based out of three separate classrooms. It was common for us to begin class just talking for ten minutes while she collected and arrived. I was talking with my friends Kimi, Hillary and Brandon before class began. Kimi was a year older than I but in my grade. She was five feet five, weighing in at one hundred pounds with a bleach blonde pixie cut, thinnest thing you ever saw, but ready to take on the world and kick any ass that got in her way. Hillary and Brandon were both a year younger and a class below ours. Both reserved and quiet, but being in band, they had their secrets not as well hidden as they both wished them to be. As the four of us sat at the table, just discussing our weekend, my turn came and I was discussing my date with a certain guy. It was a special weekend, as most are when you’re young and in love so we were all laughing and enjoying it. Well, one of the guys in my class, James Quientero, a disturbed and delinquent teen who was obviously going to, not mature but age, into a vandal, began shouting from the opposite end of the classroom. His angered was seething, and all twenty people in the class fell silent as he shouted “SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU STUPID FAGGOT OR I’M GONNA KILL YOU!”
Everyone was stunned. James was a pathetic loser who always had a bad temper. It could have been because his father abandoned his family, or the fact his mother never wanted him, who knows. But he never attempted to make anything of his life but a mistake. Kimi, who was already in a mood that day jumped up and responded “FUCK THAT AND FUCK YOU JAMES!” she stormed out of the room and I went with her. As I walked out the door, she was already half way down the hall towards the principal’s office. Unfortunately for all of the students at the time, the principal was a useless old bag, Jean Smith. The only reason this bag was hired as principal was that she was the sister of some athlete named Nolan Ryan. Anyway, Kimi and I went in and sat down with Nanette Anglin, the Schools Guidance Counselor. Mrs. Anglin was a kind woman in her mid forties, with blonde curly hair, fair skin and a tranquil calmness about her. Kimi related everything that happened and after calming Kimi down Mrs. Anglin asked Kimi if she and I could speak privately. Kimi looked to me for direction, and I said it was fine. She then announced that she would be waiting on the other side of the door. Mrs. Anglin then spoke to me in her calming voice, and asked me if I was alright. She wanted to let me know that no matter what happened after this moment that James would be placed in In School Suspension or ISS. This was an off site building where all trouble makers were held. I had to tell her the entire story in detail. Her first response to me was that I shouldn’t have been having a conversation in class. I told her that everyone else in the room was and that the teacher wasn’t present, so unless she was going to tell everyone that we should not be having conversations, she needs to think a little harder before she starts dishing out advice. She was upset by my response, but she also knew I was right, so she grudgingly apologized for her remark. After a few minutes of deep thought of how to handle the situation she said to me that James was being taken off of school grounds immediately. I was fine with that. However, she also told me that either I had to tell my dad about what happened or the school would. I was terrified. I volunteered with a gay youth group and was all too familiar with stories about kids coming out to their parents and being kicked out of their homes, or sent to conversion therapy. I was really in trouble as I was living at my dads house, working at my dad’s restaurant and even had a shared bank account. If my dad took the news that I was gay poorly o would be homeless without a job, or any money. I demanded to know why my father had to be involved at all. She told me that because I had been threatened he needed to be informed in case James should try to attack me outside of school. The moment I had never wanted to happen had struck me like a lightning bolt. I told Mrs. Anglin that I would tell my dad.
Looking back on it now, I didn’t really need to tell him I was gay, just that I was being threatened and accused of being gay. I headed home. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I called my boyfriend and told him what had happened and what I was being forced to do. He told me that if my dad did kick me out I could go stay at his place. He wasn’t out to his family and Hutto was a small town. A juicy bit of gossip like this would spread town wide before the day was over. He also threatened to kick James’ ass, but I told him not to worry about it. My dad wouldn’t get home for another hour or so, so I had time to plan and prepare. I packed a small bag with a few essential items, my insulin and all of the cash I had saved under my mattress($320). I didn’t have enough time to go to the bank and take out the rest of my money, so the $320 I had would have to be it. My two older sisters were both away at college, and my younger brother was in the living room. My dad knocked on my door and poked his head in asking how my day was. He saw me sitting on the bed, perplexed to say the least. He asked me what was wrong. The time had come, I had to tell him, I was petrified. Dad, I said, today at school a kid threatened to kill me. Everything is fine and he is in ISS, but the school says you should know just in case. He was very concerned, making sure I was alright. I told him again that I was fine. He asked me what happened, and so I told him. Stuttering and pausing as much as I could to delay the inevitable…”Dad, I’m gay.” I looked down as I didn’t know what his reaction would be. I was terrified. He came over to me, I looked up and he said “Son, I love you no matter what.”then he hugged me. I was relieved. “Now, what do we need to do to make sure this kid isn’t a problem any longer?” He said. My dad, the greatest father in the world, always supportive and always trying to protect me and my siblings from the harshness of the world.
James was eventually allowed back in school, but my boyfriend at the time made it clear to him in no uncertain terms that if he ever even looked at my again, it would be the last thing he ever did. #Swoon As I said earlier James was never going anywhere in his life and I’m sure he’s probably long dead now from a drug deal gone wrong.
I am one of the lucky ones. So many people are shunned, kicked out, abused or worse when they had to go through this. I am lucky enough to have one of the greatest parents in the world. As there is no instruction manual for raising kids, there is nothing that could prepare a parent for hearing this confession. My father however handled it with grace and his loving support. The giant weight that had been on my shoulders for the last few years had finally been relieved and I could be myself to the fullest everywhere. It’s peculiar to me, living in the western world in 2019 how there are still so many homophobic people in the world. I have been spoiled living in so many liberal cities that it’s weird to think that there are places around the world and even back home where being gay isn’t a normal thing.
If you’re reading this and need support, please get it. You can call the national GLBT Hotline at 1-888-843-4564. If you need further suggestions, please use the contact me page and I will get as much info to you as possible. Please remember though, coming out may not be the safest option for you and there is no requirement to do so. Please take your safety into account when deciding to be open about who you are. Although we live in a time where stupid people are ruling the world, there is always hope.