I knew I liked boys when I was four. I had a crush on my future brother in law and followed him around when he visited. When I got to first grade, I was smitten with another boy and bugged my parents to let me call him – even though I had nothing to say to him.
I did not have to tell my mother – she was so bold that she told me. My father, a career military man and devout Roman Catholic, has never shown me anything but acceptance and love for who I am. I am the last of five kids and my entire family is supportive.
When I was twenty, working my way through my undergraduate classes, I met someone that I loved so completely that I knew I could not live another day without him. This month we will celebrate 28 years together and I could not be happier. He is the basis of my strength, my positive outlook on life, my grounded sense of humor and nearly all of my good fortune for my adult life.
While I always felt different and not quite ‘a-part-of’ the social groups that form throughout school, I was comfortable with myself and who I was. Even when I joined the Navy in 1984, I was secure enough with my thoughts and feelings that most people I encountered simply did not know. I don’t know if I really tried to blend in, but I don’t stand out as anything stereotypical. At least not that I am aware of. There have been times professionally that I felt compelled to tell people and they were visibly surprised. When I joined a diversity group at my last employer’s urging, there were many surprised people when I came out to the room of thirty strangers. I never detected anything but supportive camaraderie and I still keep contact with many of them.
Now I am a four-time alum of VCU, a member of the administrative faculty and I have a very close-knit team of people that I work with. The only time that I am truly uncomfortable at work when I am in a large meeting and someone asks me when I will get married to my partner. I don’t want to tell them only because I think they will all insist on being there!