My childhood in Williamson, West Virginia was drenched in fundamentalist Christianity, and I was repeatedly told that homosexuals had a one-way ticket to hell. And throughout my school years in Williamson, I was repeatedly taunted and harassed for being gay. In fact, my classmates knew I was gay even before I did.
I was fifteen when I belatedly came to this realization about my orientation. I say belatedly, because it was quite evident to everyone else around me. After a two-week emotional tug of war, I decided to divulge my homosexuality to my mother, and it took me an additional two days to summon the courage to broach the subject with her. She was sitting at the dining room table when I approached her. I felt steeped in anxiety as I repeatedly cleared my throat and finally said, “Mom, I need to tell you something about me—” She cut me off with a wave of her hand and replied, “I already know everything there is to know about you.”
My mother’s reaction wasn’t exactly the protracted conversation that I had hoped for between the two of us. So the closet door remained shut and padlocked for the next five years. After I attended Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College for two years, I enrolled at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.