I WAS FIFTEEN WHEN I first came to terms with being gay. I grew up in Slaton, outside Lubbock, and there were rumors spreading about another guy on my all-star cheerleading team. I didn’t think it was a big deal, and I became friends with him. It got me thinking, “Well, what if I’m gay?” I was still pretty young and confused about a lot of things. I found the hotline number for a national gay support group listed in the newspaper, right above an ad about homosexuals converting back to heterosexuality. I guess I had a choice between the two, but since I wasn’t sure I was homosexual yet, I figured I couldn’t quite change back.
That summer, I came out to one of my friends. I asked her, “If I were gay, would you still be my friend?” She said, “Sure. We could go shopping together.” And I said, “Well, do you want to go shopping tomorrow?” When I came out to the rest of my friends, at Roosevelt High School, it wasn’t a huge shock, and even my parents said they’d known all along. At school I was popular, and so for a while everything was okay. People thought it was just a phase I was going through to get attention. The first time people’s true feelings started to come out was when we were discussing the issue of AIDS in my health class. My teacher told us that Lubbock had an AIDS problem because there were a lot of homosexuals there. When I questioned him, the other kids in the class joined in, telling me that AIDS was brought to heterosexuals by a gay man who slept with a woman. Everyone there knew I was gay, but that didn’t stop them.
Senior year, everything exploded. I think it was partly