If you haven’t read the two previous chapters, you can find them at levipierpont.com/c1 and /c2, respectively.
The real issues began to settle when I was entering into adolescence, as one might expect. Gradually, within the span of about six months, I came to understand that I was, well, not straight. I remember realizing that I was emotionally and physically attracted exclusively to guys, and freaking out about it. I knew I was gay for a few months before I told my parents, but it felt like an eternity. One night, I was listening to a sermon on audio (I’m pretty sure this is the sermon I was listening to), and tears were welling up in my eyes. My dad asked me what was wrong, and when I didn’t seem willing to explain completely, he had me step outside with him to talk about whatever it was. I’m not sure how the conversation went, but he finally realized there was something I had to tell him, but I wouldn’t just say it. He began listing off whatever it could be, and finally, he said the words “same-sex attraction,” and I broke down, nodding my head. He cried too. He gave me a hug. Later that evening, with my permission, he told mom, who came down to my room to talk to me about it. A couple years later, I found out he also called his parents shortly after our conversation.
Back then, the whole issue was framed as a sin problem that I would just have to work through. It was understood that I would resist it, and only ever marry if God gave me the desire for a straight relationship. And that’s how I saw it, too. Still, at the age of 13, this was daunting. Even at that age, I knew I wanted a companion more than I wanted almost anything else. And the idea that I should never hope for that made me even more depressed. Despite this, I had a firm belief that if I could feel that Presence of God again, and regularly, consistently—then I would be content. I’d never need a guy because I’d have God and He would be enough.
Coming Out to Siblings
Shortly after coming out to my parents, I also came out to my older siblings. My sister, Elisabeth, who we all called Lissy, took it well. But over the years, it became clear that it wasn’t something she wanted to talk about, especially the more comfortable I was with it. A few nights through the years, I’d sleep on the trundle that rolled out from under her bed, and we’d talk about some boy in her life. But I never felt comfortable even alluding to the fact that I wanted to marry a guy too. I always understood why this was—my attraction to guys was not valid because I was a guy, but her attraction was beautiful and innocent and expected. So I’d root for her, and giggle with her, but I’d never open up, because I knew she wouldn’t like what she’d see. Other times, though, our relationship was a little better, a little less one-sided. Now and then, without words, she’d see the hurt in my heart, and she’d hug me, and I’d cry. And we didn’t talk about it, didn’t discuss the reason why. But I think she knew. And maybe that was her way of comforting me, even when she didn’t want to admit she had a queer little brother.
My older brother, John, was not far behind. I came out to him in a late-night text message—my preferred method of meaningful communication—and he seemed to take it well. Of course, for a long time, he was never able to admit that I was just different from him in this way. He wanted to say I’d end up just like him, wanting a wife and family just like he did. Which I think just points to one of the main reasons hetero people don’t accept queer folks—they don’t understand us. It can be easy, as a queer person, to become embittered toward the hetero population, but their initial reaction is not something you can really blame them for. A white toddler in a white family will be a little confused the first time she sees a person of color, and a man attracted to women will be confused the first time he realizes some men are legitimately attracted to men.
As for my four younger siblings, the oldest of which being around the age of 9 when I first came to terms with myself, I assumed for many years that I would never have to tell them. Of course, if you had asked me, I would have told you, “yeah, I’ll tell them sometime or they’ll just catch on.” But truly, I just thought, hoped, wished, prayed I would turn straight before I ever had to tell them anything. Because no matter how much I denied it being a passing phase—knowing that wasn’t the case—that’s what I wanted it to be, with every bone in my aching, depressive body.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many journal entries from this first coming out period, so I can only write what I remember, and my timeline relies mostly on when the few journals I have were written. A few of the episodes in this unfolding story may be out of order, but for the most part, I think I have it down right.
The next chapter will be available shortly at levipierpont.com/c4
This post was written in August of 2018 and originally published in February of 2019.