Growing up in the very small town of Curwensville, PA, I was the only gay in the village. It was hard being a queer boy in my surroundings when I had nobody to go for advice on how I was feeling nor did I have someone to look up too, so I just lived my best life with no excuses. I was picked on every day and called “Tink” or “Tinker Bell” and that really didn’t bother me. I knew we had gay teachers, but it wasn’t (overly) talked about in school or the town.
I didn’t come out until the age of 24 because I thought there wasn’t a need to. When I met my future husband, I wrote a letter to my parents telling them I am gay and that I found someone I suspected to spend the rest of my life with. And yes, I did find my prince charming and we are still together after 23 years. I was so nervous putting that letter in the mail because I just didn’t know what their reaction would be. I already lived 2,000 miles away so they couldn’t kick me out, but they certainly could not speak to me again and I couldn’t bare to think that; because how could someone who loved you your whole life react that way.
I remember a few days passed and the phone rings (before caller ID and cell phones) and it was my dad (a Methodist Pastor).
He was silent and choked up for a moment then he said, “you know we love you.”
And then my mom said the same thing to which we all started crying and I was so relieved because that was the response I thought and hoped I would get, and I did.
I learned after this that it wasn’t the case for most of my gay friends. They had horrible stories of coming out to their families. We then went on to talk about Michael – my, now, husband – with how we met, who he was as a person, etc. I think I even got the proverbial, “well, we always suspected”. What my Cabbage Patch Dolls and Barbie collection didn’t scream “GAYYYYYY”.
Not only did I come out as gay, but later I revealed I was also a Drag Queen…and to some that was shocking, but my family embraced it and really didn’t care. Hell, my brother designs half my costumes to this day. There are others in my extended family that were not so keen on the Drag Queen bits, but if you love me, you love ALL of me.
Being an actor and singer helped guide me to the art of Drag. Honestly, I really started doing Drag to get into the clubs for free, but then I started realizing there was so much more to it. This led me to being a community and LGBTQ advocate and helping organizations while performing and loving what I do.
I love that we are living in a society now where you see same-sex and trans couples featured on television, music and commercials. When I was a kid, that would have helped me out so much to know that there are people out there just like me.
We still have a long way to go for acceptance and inclusion, but I believe that our future generations will make it right!
Be Kind, Be Respectful, Be Human!