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No More Sadness - A Page of My Story On National Coming Out Day


In honor of National Coming Out Day I would like to share this story with you:


I graduated from Esperanza High School in June that year.

Now it was early September and I was still living happily at home with my parents in Yorba Linda, “The Land of Gracious Living”.






I had lived in this house since I was 6 years old. I was barely 18 now and two weeks into my freshman year at Cal State University, Fullerton.


I had planned to get a teaching credential.


I didn’t go away for college, just a little fifteen minute drive to the next town over.

My parents never even discussed the possibility of me going away for school. My father was a worry wart who tried to control everything.


************************


It was a Saturday morning and I had left the house at the crack of dawn to go to water polo practice.




I rolled back home in my red VW bus a few hours later and the strangest sight awaited me in the front yard of my house.


Several giant UHaul boxes, stuffed to the gills and bulging at the sides, decorated the front lawn.


I went inside to see what was happening and found my father, his face a dangerous shade of red, raging and pacing around the kitchen. I asked him what was going on. He wouldn’t speak to me.


I went to look for my mom and found her bedroom door locked which was unusual. I could hear her crying behind the door so I knocked. “Oh Susie…” in her soft Georgia drawl was all I heard.


I went down the hallway toward my bedroom and saw that the door had been wrenched from its hinges. My closet doors, dresser drawers, everything was open and emptied.


I was standing in the middle of my disheveled bedroom wondering what in the fuck was going on when I heard my parents approaching in the hall, my mom trailing behind my dad.

My dad is seething and on the verge of coming completely unglued; my poor mom is beside herself. My dad bellows at me that they know I’m “a queer” and that if I was planning to continue with “this lifestyle” that I couldn’t live in their house anymore.


He said so many terrible, awful things to me. He said I was no longer a member of the Perkins family and I couldn’t use the name. He listed a number of things that he would “rather I be” than gay.


His list included several things I won’t repeat in public. Some things that, in my dad’s book, were the worst possible things imaginable. And yet this was worse, I was worse. I was the absolute worst thing in the world that could ever happen to a parent. I was the worst.


That’s when I realized those UHaul boxes in the front yard were filled with my belongings, my stuff.


In shock and not knowing what else to do, I lugged the awkward, heavy boxes across the yard, loaded them up and drove away from my home with everything I could now call my own in a mechanically unsound 1972 VW bus.


My parents had disowned me, though it was mostly my dad. My mom would never have done that to me on her own, I’m sure of it, but she was powerless against him.


My dad was a “good Christian man”. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from USC with a degree in Psychology. He attended USC on the GI bill after fighting in combat during WW2 and the Korean conflict. He was super intelligent, funny, and interesting and he was plagued with PTSD before anyone knew it was a thing.


I don’t know why he chose to disown me but I imagine he was doing the best he could with what he had at the time, like we all do. Maybe he thought this would “fix” me and make me "normal" again.


I sometimes wonder how my life might have turned out. What my life might have been like if instead of rejecting me, disowning me, putting me out on the street, my parents would have loved me and accepted me for who I was? I used to wonder about that quite a bit. I used to wonder about it so much that my heart broke.


But what I have discovered after so many long years, is that this life-changing ordeal of being wrenched from the safety, love and security of family, so immediately and without warning from one moment to the next, helped me become the person that I am today and formed the path which led me to the happy, simple life that I now live.


The feelings of abandonment, shame, disgrace and unworthiness; of feeling unlovable and unloved, of missing my family, especially my mother; of losing the opportunity to follow my water polo career dreams, of delaying my college education for over a decade; all this contrast allowed me the opportunity to learn to rely on myself. To learn that I could do hard and difficult things, that I could find a new way to believe in myself and to live and to support myself no matter what the circumstance.





Those years and the obstacles that dropped in front of me were difficult to navigate and I sometimes wonder how I kept faith in myself and my ability to figure it all out. I’m super grateful for those people who helped me out along the way. I’m grateful that I didn’t slide down the slippery slope into depression, drug abuse, self-harm and suicide like so many teens in similar circumstances.


I’m grateful to understand that without chaos and confusion in my life, I would never appreciate the peace and clarity. I’m grateful for my teachers and for my yoga practice that has allowed me to discover my inherent bliss and power.


I’m grateful that I didn’t give up on myself when those people most important to me chose to give up on me.


Wherever you are, whatever your situation...don't ever give up on yourself. You are here for a reason and someone out there needs you to be in this world.


*****************************************



From The Trevor Project:


“LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated or stigmatized in society.”


LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. (Johns et al., 2019; Johns et al., 2020)


Homophobia thrives in silence and ignorance and our stories can be powerful and help to uplift and support each other. People are far more likely to support equality under the law when they know someone who is LGBTQ+.


By sharing our stories and listening to the stories of others, we can help change minds and hearts and bring a long lasting impact to our community.


Thanks for reading this little bit of my story.



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