I knew I was gay at age eight when my mother’s definition of queer described me perfectly. I hid my truth and left small town Pennsylvania for the city life of Washington, DC. immediately after college graduation.
My mother carried memories of tragic family deaths and a lesbian encounter of her own. When she questioned my lifestyle and said she would “blame herself and not know what to do for the rest of her life,” I thought she might take her own life so, I lied. My father, raised in the non-traditional life of circus performers, unleashed me to be whoever I wanted to be but I continued my double life of straight daughter and gay lover.
Then becoming a teacher and high school principal, I also lived a secret nocturnal life−my triple life. Bartending in shady parts of D.C., I was hit by a rock, saw a gun pulled on my friend, and witnessed fights, arrests, and marches that pitted straights against gays. I jumped from girlfriend to girlfriend, courted a few straight girls, and dabbled in activities far different from the straight educator I portrayed by day.
On the day of my father’s funeral, my mother proclaimed her recognition of my gayness. What I hoped would be a celebration of love and openness was anticlimactic. I had wasted too many years. My father was gone, and I had lost friends rather than share my truth.
Against the backdrop of the burgeoning LGBTQ movement, I became a courageous trailblazer and did my own coming out in a big way, I married a woman. Now I share my truth with the world and enjoy the happiness that honesty has given me.
Do not make the mistakes I made. Openly love who you love.