When I got home the evening after the phone call nothing was said. In fact nothing was ever said again. Before this my mother would sometimes asked me if I thought certain men, celebrity or otherwise were handsome or good looking. I always gave a vague answer. After the phone call she never asked again.
I think I read about 10 books from various sources and various level of expertise but all were positive and affirming. Some discussed the hard ships I may have to endure and some were more hopeful. This was before Al Gore invented the internet so I to either had to buy them from Walden Books or take them out of the library. Two books were more helpful than the others.
“Loving Someone Gay” by Don Clark, Ph.D. It is and honest and thoughtful book that was helpful in understanding who I was, why I was, and how I could help others understand and accept me. Don’t forget this was 1981 all this gay stuff still had to be explained.
“The Best Little Boy in the World” by John Reid. This book saved my life. It is a memoir of a normal acting, politically aware, social active young man with a secret. John Reid was a pen name used by Wall Street giant Andrew Tobias who has also served as Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.
The research was done. I had no idea what was going to happen next but I was better prepared to begin the long slog of coming out. Which it turns out is a never ending process, but more on that later.
The next step was to tell someone. I chose our churches former pastor and a close family friend. Steve Sterner had left the little congregation in Easton but was still very much a part of our lives. Steve and family were as much a part of our family as any of my uncles and aunts. I wrote Steve this brutally honest 12 page letter. A week or so later I received a letter in response. Steve addressed the letter to me with a note on the envelope that it was personal and meant for me alone. I am a junior so he wanted to make sure that my father did not read it. This little note caused a bit of drama that we all laughed over later. Steve’s letter was frank and helpful and he was clearly pained by the angst I was going through and he helped me find a local resource. Later in his career while trying to get his congregation to become open and affirming to gay congregants he told my/our story in a sermon. Needless to say I was honored and quite touched to be the subject of this great man’s sermon. To this day Steve Sterner is one of the best preachers I have ever heard.
Step 2 was to tell someone face to face. For that honor I chose soon to be elected State Representative Bob Freeman. I sat Bob down during the summer of 1982 while my parents were on vacation. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Bob was the perfect choice. At the end of this very supportive conversation he asked me to not be very open until after he was elected, he was afraid that it could hurt a campaign that we had spent years planning and running and we could smell victory. We both laughed to relieve the tension but I agreed. Even all these years later I am grateful and thankful to the very honorable Mr. Freeman. He included me in his wedding and if he gets off his ass and allows me to get married I will include him in mine.
Now it was time to tell other friends and co-workers. It took me a really long time to get though college because I kept taking time off to find myself and earn money. This was one of those off times. I told my closest friends at dinner one night and after a few questions and a few tears from a young woman who was forced to check me off her list, I was glad I did. They were there for me for the rest of the initial coming out process and a little beyond.