The Freckle-Faced Boy

Bienvenido a Pride season. Let's get our stories out there. Those words are what scatter the shadows and releases the stranglehold of Darthness. Uniting us in colorful and unshakeable bonds of truth.

My late coming out story involved a bathroom mirror, the raised fist, flashes of Edgar Allan Poe madness, just a splash of water, and 10,000 Maniacs.

It wasn't just that I came out so much later in my life. It was a peculiar twist of fate that changed everything for me on that particular third Sunday in May of 2004.

Picture it. The scene. A megachurch in suburban Chicago. The guest of honor I was that morning.

The 10,000 frenzied members gave me a standing ovation. Applauding my exciting primary election win that pushed me one step closer to being County Commissioner. They additionally threw in bravos of best wishes for my success in the general election. It was my race to lose.

After everyone sat down, the preacher walked up to the pulpit. Paused with purpose. Everyone all agog for his start. Then with raised fist to heaven. He unleashed an unforgiving fire and brimstone sermon on the evils of homosexuality. Castigating the abominable gays perpetrating it all.

The massive fawning claque of attendees once more all around me leaping to their collective feet. All throughout that chamber of judgment. I sat frightfully frozen in place. Feeling like the tortured character in Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Ya know. The one with the guilty conscience.

That was it. My come to Jesus moment. I knew I could no longer do it. Lie to myself about who I was. After that service ended, I would tell someone for the first time. That I was gay.

Not long after that, I withdrew my candidacy for that powerful position. Moving to Phoenix with my brand-new boyfriend. Only two duffel bags each and a scant $300 between the two of us.

It didn't matter that we were nearly penniless, had no jobs lined up, no apartment, and no cars. We would make it happen. With my true identity as a solid foundation. For the first time in 35 years of my existence...I was able to finally be me. And truly exist as a real human being.

Despite the two time zones of separation, that move forever transformed my life and eventually brought me closer to family and friends back in the Midwest.

Who would've thought? Thousands of folks with their loving hatred would help me realize something that always seemed mission impossible. Those rabid oxymorons were my muse. For me to utter those three monosyllabic words to someone. For the very first time.

But you see. There's no manual for this kind of thing. It's different for each of us. I heard stories of gays coming out to a best friend. A teacher. A counselor. A neighbor. A parent. A sibling. A colleague.

Nope. As for my story. There was someone else I'd tell. Closer than I ever could've imagined.

That late spring morning in the church seven years and a decade ago. After the services ended. I hurriedly excused myself from and artfully dodged all the jubilant glad-handers. Making like a determined running back for the bathroom in the basement. I thought I was gonna be sick.

I locked the door. Walked up to the sink. Splashed cold water on my face. Looked up. That scared freckle-faced boy in the mirror with tousled hair trusted that the seasoned thirty-something politician looking back at him knew just what needed to be done.

That moment. Staring into the looking glass. Truly for the first time to anyone. I let out those words that evaded me for 12,881 days. I finally said out loud, "I am gay."

Lie about who I am again. Nevermore. Some Edgar Allan Poe tales do get their happy endings.

This Disney fairy dust is sprinkled around for good luck by that guy of crazy cool candor. That guy of bold first steps is Ron Blake and he's encouraging more truths to be spoken out at

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