John and JD in their own words:“Being “gay” for us means being labeled. Who wants to be labeled? Shouldn’t that have gone out with the civil rights movement? A “straight” person isn’t labeled because he is straight. There is nothing wrong with us, or our monogamous relationship. We wanted a partner to love just like everyone does. It just happens that the person we are in love with, and committed to, is a member of the same sex. Why should we feel abnormal about that. We are responsible for our own happiness, even if it comes with a label. After all, Webster defines gay as happy, lighthearted and carefree. What a beautiful thing!
One of life’s greatest challenges was trying to fit in as “normal.” We were both different as far back into our childhoods as we can remember. We both have tried lying to ourselves and tricking ourselves into thinking we were something we really weren’t . It took a lot of living, life lessons, heartbreak, and learning to accept ourselves the way we are. Perfect in His image. A hurdle to overcome was allowing ourselves the privilege and right to feel good about ourselves. We sought out our perfect companion and have made a beautiful life with him. All this because we are deserving. We are good people. We should not be treated differently because we don’t fit the “normality” of society. We have succeeded. We are happy. We are normal. We are human.
The gay community in NC is very diverse. If you are in the city, there are all types of people here. Charlotte embraces gay individuals. Out here in the country is a different story. Charlotte is perhaps the best place to be if you are gay and in North Carolina. The rural community outside Charlotte is very conservative and religious against anything gay. To our knowledge we are the only openly gay couple in our small town of 1,700. We have faced pain and discrimination here, but nothing that we aren’t strong enough to face head on and use to fuel our drive as we advocate for change. It is changing slowly, and we see progress. How can you expect people to change if you don’t open their eyes and give them the chance to change their perspective? We are not ostentatious, but we are true to ourselves and to our relationship.
John’s coming out:
I grew up in rural Texas. I did not come out to my parents before they died. My mother knew though, and my brothers and sisters knew without me saying anything. It took falling in love with the most wonderful person in the world for me to be comfortable with who I am. JD taught me to not be ashamed of myself or him. If we were to be a couple, we were no secret. That was about 5 years ago. We met long ago but life kept us apart from one another. It took time, knowledge, and living to eventually bring us together. We are both in a better place today and compliment each other beautifully. We are very happy and live a wonderful life together with friends and family who accept us for who we are.
JD’s coming out:
What child wants to be a disappointment to their parents? I have always been somewhat of a “pink sheep.” I have struggled to fit in with my Southern Baptist upbringing. Although we’ve come full circle and God has used my family to reveal his perfect Grace, coming out was awful. I never want to hear my Mama cry like that ever again. Tears still roll down my face when I think about her pain that afternoon. My Daddy seemed to think it was a phase. I guess the beauty of this is quite simple. I learned that I didn’t have to fit any “mold.” Be true to yourself, although it may strain relationships, those who truly love you will come around.
My message in my coming out would be to conservative christian groups: please don’t ostracize an entire population of human beings who have the capability to do something amazing for God just because they do not fit into your construct of what you think a Christian should be. Gay Christians exist; we always have, and we always will. Your religion nearly killed me; my spirituality saved me.
I was so blessed to have my little sister who was so wise beyond her years. She never judged me. Even through starting her own family, she never left me feeling alone. It is mainly because of her that my family got through this turbulent time. My family’s relationships are better than they have ever been, and are continuing to grow. Nothing makes my heart smile more than to hear my parents tell John they love him. God had a lesson for us in his perfect plan. It was the lesson of unconditional love and acceptance. Never doubt there is a bigger picture. We may perhaps see that picture differently. I do however believe that the moment we allow ourselves to truly see one another beyond our differences that picture and our world become so much more beautiful.
Chase your dreams. Don’t let anyone stop you from being who you are. Only you can make YOU happy. Those who really love you will support you. We have traveled a long way, and in the journey before us we must continue to put one foot in front of the other. Know this: the pace is picking up, my friends. And the rewards of our labors, justice, equality, and respect merit our toils. Keep hope and faith, and let us always bear in mind that we must “be the change we wish to see in the world.”