Growing up in the foothills in rural North Carolina, being gay and particularly, “out,” were unheard of in the 1960s. There are more Baptist churches there than Starbucks in California today.
I knew I was gay from 8 years of age, but had to hide my sexuality and had a few gay friends who I met in secret. Going on to college was not any easier even at a large Southern university.
From there I lived in Europe for about 8 years as part of the Armed Forces (and forbidden to be gay). Returning to the US, I entered into a loveless marriage of 19 years until my ex-wife became a born-again Christian and left me one November night because I would not adopt her religious beliefs.
Well, enough was enough and at the ripe age of 47, I finally decided to come out as “gay” after all of these years of hiding my sexuality. I suppose I went through a mid-life wild spell expressing my freedom and being recognized as a gay man for the first time. Unfortunately, all of my friends did not accept this new lifestyle, so I lost many good friends. My family was a bit more difficult although I am sure they suspected I was gay since childhood, they only thought I was going through a mid-life crisis and would run back into the arms of a woman and remarry. After a couple of close relationships, I finally remarried about two years ago to the man of my dreams. My parents accept him, but continue to be in denial about my life and think one day I will renounce my gayness.
I can only say at this point in my life I am finally happy being an out gay man. Now, living in California, I do not experience the still closed-mindedness of the Bible Belt South and can fully live my life with happiness and acceptance.