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.”
Chad, in his own words:“I grew up in LaGrange, a suburb of Louisville, KY. I had a wonderful childhood with a very close and very Christian family. My parents were always supportive and involved in all my extra curricular activities in school such as band, choir and theater. Being raised in an Assembly of God church, Christianity was a big part of my life. I even lived in the Christian dorm at the University of Kentucky which is where I would meet my future wife. Yes…I was married…to a woman. I got married when I was 20 years old because I loved her and that was “what I was supposed to do”. After a year and a half, I decided that the relationship was a farce and I was tired of fighting the internal battle that was my sexuality. I came to the conclusion that God would want me to be happy and not in a state of constant struggle. Looking back, I can realize that I was gay my whole life but denial and the fear of going to Hell is a powerful thing. The thing I remember the most from coming out to my parents is their response. “We still love you but we’re not gonna give up hope on you” At the time, I was just relieved that they didn’t disown me. I didn’t realize it was going to be a journey for them as well…one that, thankfully, ended at acceptance.
I don’t regret anything I’ve done in the past because that journey is the reason I am where I am and what I am today which is truly happy and in love with my partner, Tim. I knew from our first date that this was the man that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Not only is he gorgeous but he’s smart, outgoing and adventurous. As far as characteristic traits, he’s the perfect “yin” to my “yang”. His spontaneity, at times, challenges me but makes me love him more in the end. I like to plan our adventures…he doesn’t. It’s not uncommon for him to unexpectedly pick me up from work with a change of clothes and we’re off!
Wherever our life takes us, it’s a comfort to know that we will be side by side through it all.’
Tim, in his own words:“I grew up in the suburbs just outside of Louisville. For most of my childhood and early teen years, I was an active member of the rural Southern Baptist church that my family still attends to this day. That church was the center of most of my family and social activities, so needless to say, it seemed like we were there whenever the doors were open. I was happy there. It felt safe being surrounded by my family & friends and though some will probably find this odd, even as I began to understand and deal with the realization that I was gay- I felt more comfortable at that small church than I did in my middle school or high school. Although I was being taught beliefs at my church that I would eventually have to part with, at least I was never called a “fag”, was never questioned about why I never had girlfriends and was never bullied about being more interested in singing than in playing sports as I was during middle school and the first years of high school. Although my religious beliefs have changed- I still look back at those years as some of the safest and happiest of my childhood.
I began to “come out” to close friends in my early twenties. It was such a fun, scary, exciting & awesome time for me! I had spent so many years making sure that I acted a certain way or said the right thing so that no one would suspect anything and more importantly, so that everyone would like me. It was during this time that I began making friends who liked me without any of my normal walls or guards in place… and that feeling was simply amazing. I also started a relationship with a man that I would eventually move to Atlanta, GA with for several years. There, I was able figure out and become comfortable with who I was, develop my own thoughts and rules about my life, and meet some amazing friends! When that relationship came to an end, I decided it was time to leave Atlanta and head back to Louisville. Little did I know what those years in Atlanta were actually preparing me for!
After arriving back in Louisville, I bought a house, fixed it up, started a new job and adopted my wonderful dog “Jadie”. I was settling in to what I thought would be a long span of being “happily single”….and then along came Chad! To say meeting him caught me off guard would be an understatement. I was so attracted to him from the second I saw him. He is the most open, candid, & confident person I have ever met- not to mention the obvious fact that he is so HOT and has eyes that will freeze you in your tracks! Before long, we were loading up the UHaul and he was leaving his apartment downtown for the quiet life in the ‘burbs! We’ve been together almost 5 years now and still my favorite part of the day is when I see his face show up on my phone and when I hear his car door shut in the driveway when he comes home from work.
Before I met him, I had labeled many pivotal moments in my life such as moving away from home, leaving jobs, and making it through the end of friendships and relationships as failures or low points. My partnership with Chad quickly made me realize that all these events, no matter how difficult and painful they were to go through, were preparing not only to meet him, but to truly be settled enough, smart enough and mature enough for the possibility of a life-long partnership with this amazing man. Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to watch our separate families come together and form wonderful friendships and to bring our family of close but previously separate friends together and witness even more close friendships develop from that..”
Things are great and getting better- not only for me on personal level, but also for the gay community as a whole. The dramatic changes that have taken place over recent years only adds to the excitement I have about my future with Chad!”