Jason, in his own words: “(Being gay means) Living an honest and happy life.
My ultimate challenge was accepting that I was gay. But once I did at the age of 21, it’s been an incredible part of who I am. I’ve had the time of my life!
I first came out to my close friends who were accepting and “knew the whole time.” I later came out to my parents 7 years into my relationship with Brian [going on 11]. I thought, “It’s about time.” My family was never religious or passed judgment. I think it’s because we never shared our feelings or talked about our personal life. I still felt “what if…?” but coming out to my parents took about 20 minutes [Yes, only 20!]. One night, after dinner, I took them in another room while Brian was washing the dishes. My parents only had a few questions: “Do you wear women’s clothing?” and “Is there anything we could have done?” I responded with “Are you serious!? NO!” and “Of course not.” And that was it! Time for dessert! From that moment on their relationship with Brian only got better. I couldn’t have asked for a better “coming out” story.
The LA gay community for the most part is quite diverse. I think you make what you want to make out of each community. So depending on who you are and the type of people you surround yourself with depends on how you relate to each “scene.” I’ve always felt welcomed and never had any “hangups.” But I know some people hate the “WeHo” scene or hate the “Silverlake hipster” scene. I say embrace and enjoy! What ever your cup of tea may be!”
Brian, in his own words: “(Being gay) means being faaaaaabulous! Just kidding (kind of). To me, being gay is a very important part of who I am – but it doesn’t define everything that I am. Being gay means I’m part of a large community of people that have something in common, but not everything – which is something I really like. Many of my friends are gay but we’re a very eclectic group.
I live in LA and most of the people I interact with are either gay or could give a shit less that I’m gay. So daily challenges are minimal. When Jason and I travel, we keep in mind that not everyone is going as open-minded as we’re used to. But it still takes you by surprise if some asshole yells something while driving by (it’s always when they can make a cowardly get-away) or you just get that feeling that someone is uncomfortable with gays and gets awkward.
Aside from the challenges in coming out to my family (more on that later), I’ve been pretty lucky. Except for having to live up to a high “gay” standard of dress, fitness, snark, etc. That can be exhausting. I mean pool parties during the summer are like a friggin’ full time job of working out, not eating and modeling a brand new bathing suit that looks like it was sewn onto you. (Don’t you feel sorry for me?!)
(The gay community in Los Angeles) is Huge. Epic. Diverse. Dramatic. Supportive. All of those things. I wish we were a little more in touch with our history/politics – like New York and San Franciso, but LA gays are a little warmer and laid back in comparison, which I enjoy.
When Jason and I started dating, I made a promise to myself that if we hit the one-year mark, I would come out to my family. I had already come out to most of my friends, which was a sometimes awkward but for the most part very well received. I mean, it wasn’t much of a surprise to most. (I think my performance as Whitney Houston in the 3rd grade talent show might’ve tipped them off. Side note: I naaaaailed it.) Most importantly, I was extremely fortunate to have such amazing friends that were supportive and loving. It made coming out to them quite easy.
My family was more difficult. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I come from a very small town in upstate NY. It’s mostly conservative, very traditional and the only gays our town was familiar with were the “city gays” that would come up from NYC to spend money on antiques and enjoy our “quaint” little village.
My parents met at a high school football game and married soon after, my brother married a girl that grew up two miles from our house, and then there was me – living in sinful Los Angeles, on the other side of the country, with my Asian-American boyfriend. Kaboom.
I ended up waiting 9 months into our relationship to tell my family about Jason. My parents were out visiting at the time for a relaxing trip to Disneyland. They had already met my “friend” Jason on a prior trip, so at least that was out of the way. Then, one day before we left our hotel to go for a bike ride, I decided it was time to break the news. I remember sitting on the bed, stuttering a bit, and being surprised that for the first time in my life, I was finding it extremely difficult to put something into words. But I did. And it was rough. Very rough. One of the most difficult days of my life. (Needless to say, we never went on that bike ride.) But difficult days turned into weeks of working on things, which turned into months of getting used to things, which turned into years of things slowly but surely getting better as my family got to know Jason.
Now, 11 years later, the relationship between my parents and Jason is where I always hoped it’d be. It took lots of work, by everyone, but in the end, I’m so grateful for love and understanding. I hope that any gay kid, petrified of telling the people he loves that he’s gay, can learn from this and know that although it can be one of the hardest things they might ever do, it can – and will – get better. (But not for pool parties.)”