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  • Zeb Carlson

Coming Out Day

I got a letter in the mail. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from my parents when I came out, but I knew I had to be honest. The time had come.

The letter was pretty bad.

You'll get AIDSYou need to pray

The people you hang out with are bad

You watch too much tv

No man will be welcome on this farm, ever

I've always wondered what it will be with you next, Zeb

Before the letter to my parents, my friend Becky was the first person I shared my secret with. Her words were simple, that she knew and so happy that I told her - finally. Now, let's order another round. Forever, Beck, you got my heart. (YES I KNOW I HAVE TOLD YOU THIS A MILLION TIMES AND DAMMIT I'LL BE TELLING YOU A MILLION MORE).

It wasn't until many years later that I realized the power of those words. At the time, I guess I downplayed all of it and packed it up to think about later. When later came, it got hard and I dealt with it. I realized that I don't deserve those words and I started to understand what they meant. What they REALLY meant.

Years later I talked about it with my dad and he answered with a simple, "I love you, that's what matters, and it's ok.".

When my dad died, I felt like I should come out again, for whatever reason. I made sure my family knew I was gay and I was met with a lot of encouraging words. One of my aunts, in her 80's and Christian, said, "It sure doesn't matter to me. I love you and always have. Always will. All of us do. I don't think it's that big of a deal."

From a stoic SD farmwife, those are pretty big words.

As I embark on my 2nd act of life, I am proud of my identity. And all of the support of those around me as I continue to come out and figure out ways to get involved in progressing Queer rights. And happy that — in spite of so many awful situations — in so many ways we've come a long way to gay folks being loved inclusively.

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