Shawn, in his own words: “For me being gay has defined freedom. It is totally enlightening to not feel like a “poser” or a pretender. Being gay has also given me strength! I am generally a lover, not a fighter, but you learn really quickly how to hold your own when you are “out of the norm” from others.
Challenges- there have been very few challenges involving being gay. I have really had an easy time with my homosexuality. I’ve never been beaten up or denied a job & I have a VERY supportive family. Of course as a young person I was called a faggot as early as the 3rd grade but if it makes you tougher…
Successes- I’m not sure that I can attribute any success to being gay, other than that because I came out so young, I had a head start on learning to love & accept myself. So perhaps any successes come through that &, again, an wonderful support system of family & friends & Butch.
I feel like Louisville has a very diverse gay community, but like any group of gays anywhere, we are just people. Some of us are partiers, some of us homebodies, some of us are sweet, some of us are nasty bitches. People are people. Overall Louisville has a very committed & supportive gay scene.
I came out to my friends when I was 15 & my family when I was 16. Much to my surprise my parents had the opposite reactions than I expected. My dad didn’t panic at all, he hugged me and told me that he loved me. In hindsight I think I remember seeing relief in his eyes when I told him. My mom on the other hand was upset & cried and only after a few days did she explain to me why she was so distraught. She was concerned that I would have a hard life & suffer some sort of indignities because I was gay. After the dust settled & she saw that nothing was any different, it was all okay.
I would tell a younger me to “pump the breaks” just wait because it will be sooooooo much better,”
Butch, in his own words: “The gay community has changed in Louisville in the years I have been here- this used to be the city a lot of gays would
come to in the weekend to go out and have fun- bars, dancing, etc. cause closing time here isn’t until 4am. But now- many people don’t feel the necessity to go to a “gay” bar to go out, since it is much more accepting openly now.
My (coming out) story is a lucky one because my family was and is very accepting. I did have friends that were thrown out by family after coming out- so I know how fortunate it is to have loving family members
(Advice I would give my younger self) Be yourself and be happy with who you are….. We could all be kinder to ourselves.”