Be You. Be Positive. Be Possible.

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This is one of those moments where I don’t even know what to say – and this does not happen very often. I came up with the title of the post before the post, knowing what I was going to say, but somehow I just can’t figure out the perfect way to start writing it. So let me just share a few things about me that may help generate where I want to go with this post. 

I’m 22.
I’m a college graduate.
I’m working professional.
I’m a friend.
I’m a brother.
I’m an uncle.
I’m a son.
I’m a dreamer.
I’m a realist.
I’m a grandson.
I’m out going.
I’m hardheaded.
I’m talkative.
I’m sarcastic.
I’m all knowing — naturally.
I’m very organized.
I’m a hard worker.
I’m loyal.
I’m authentic.
I’m a male.
I’m gay.
I’m still me.
I’m still myself.
I’m still I.

All of the items listed above make up me and I can’t change that. I can’t redefine myself. I am who I am, and that is what matters most. The unique thing about my identity is that I am gay, but that isn’t what makes up my identity. That alone brings it’s own unique challenges and shortcomings, but also brings me opportunity that others may not see.

Connor Harrison Selfie with Hat and Long Hair
Picture taken March, 24, 2013.

The story of my life begins 22 years ago but I want to bring you to March 22, 2013. The day was Friday, the time was late at night after work, and the mood was boredom. I had been on several dating sites, and that night I had decided to meet up with a friend of mine that night to hang out, watch a movie, and finally meet. I went to his house to pick him up and returned to where I was staying since my roommate was out of town and I wouldn’t have to worry about him finding out about me picking up a guy. I felt really comfortable meeting “The Blue-Eyed Traveler,” and we decided that we would watch a movie and cuddle – the best. (To this day it drives me nuts I can’t remember what movie we were watching, but I’m sure it was a good one. If I had to guess it was “Perks of Being a Wallflower.”)

During our conversation that night “The Blue-Eyed Traveler” told me about his coming out story. I remember that it was difficult, his parents didn’t react in the best manor, I don’t remember the details because I began to run through my head how my story would go down.

The thought of someone coming out at sixteen, still in high school, and being as strong as he was, boggled my mind. It was something that I couldn’t stop thinking about for the next 36 hours as I sat at home alone with Mac while my roommate was on some work escapade.

It was after 36 hours, on Sunday, that I decided I was going to tell my parents that I was gay. A thought that had been brewing for who knows how long. It was that weekend however, that I came to terms with it, and knew it would help me progress. My initial plan was to drive down to talk to my parents, but I kept freaking myself out, over thinking the situation, and thinking the worst would happen. It wasn’t until nearly 8pm that Sunday, March 24, 2013 that I decided to call my parents.

My mom picked up the phone, and I asked – as usual – “what are you up to?” She responded, “just watching TV.” And so the small talk began. I don’t remember the conversation at all, just that I kept asking what she was doing to see if she was still close to my dad. We talked for quite a while and I remember thinking how am I going to bring this up? One thing that my mom never does is really say that she has to go, she will talk and talk forever if you want to – which I love about her, but that night, around 10PM she said “all right well I better let you go.” These 8 words sunk in, and I realized that this was a now or never situation.

“Well there is one more thing that I wanted to tell you mom,” I say. My mom responds with something typical like, “okay.”

I then followed her response with, “Well I wanted to tell you that I started dating again, but that this time it has been with men.”

The phone call falls to silence and I ask, “Does that make sense?”

My mom says, “Yeah, but where is this coming from, I feel like it is coming from right-field.”

She continued to talk about many other things which I don’t feel are necessary for this story, but she became concerned, and she began to shut down, and I could feel it over the phone. It was like she had stopped breathing. We exchanged words about how I was still her son, that she still loved me, that I still needed my mom, that I didn’t want this to change anything between us. These words were some of the most emotional words I have ever spoken, and I have never – ever – cried so much in my entire life.

The next step was telling my Dad, which I discovered was no longer by my mom, and my mom had to build the strength to go upstairs where I heard her mutter words about it being my dads son on the phone. You could tell he was distressed by the way – I’m assuming – my mom was acting. He picked up the phone and said “What is going on? Is everything all right?” I told him what I had just told my mom and he went silent as well, and then mentioned that he thought maybe Mac (my beautiful and amazing dog) had been hit or had died. More concerned about my dog, I knew my Dad was going to be there to support me.

That is exactly where my Dad went, supporting me, and giving me positive words, reaffirming his love, how proud he was, and how he would take care of my mom for me. He talked about how him and my mom might not understand it, but that they support and love me. They haven’t been around the gay community, and only know what they see on the news or on television.

The reaction I got from my parents was completely opposite of what I would have assumed. I was terrified to tell my dad, and I thought by telling my mom first she would help me get there.

We exchanged more words, and I remember saying that I needed to go. At this point I was on campus driving around because I was afraid of my roommate coming home and finding me crying and I would have to worry about telling my roommate in the same night, so I left.

That week was also one of the hardest weeks with me telling each of my siblings, talking to my aunt, telling my roommate and other close friends. The best experience I had in telling someone in my family was actually my oldest brother. “It is about time,” are some of the words used during that conversation with him, and I remember feeling better about my decision to finally tell my family.

My brother and I spoke about how people think that being gay is a choice rather than something that is natural, and how he is constantly telling people at work why would someone choose a harder path in life just because they can? Not only did he support my decision, but he also asked me if I was dating anyone, or if I liked anyone – something not a single other person even asked me about. I knew then that I had a real ally in the family.

That night was one of the most relieving, stressful, emotional, positive, negative, nights of my life. And a night I will never forget. I believed that night that everything would be fine, that I could finally be me. Which is very much true, but as I said being gay has it’s own unique challenges that I will forever continue to face. So many new challenges will continue to arise, but I know now that everything is possible, and that I have to take each new challenge uniquely, and understand that things won’t always be easy. I just need to continue to be positive, meet good people, and see where my life will lead.

I’m Connor Harrison, I’m gay, and that is just one story of my life possible.