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COVER STORY

It gets better

A local take on the national project to save gay youth

Photo: Photos by Carlos Amoedo, License: N/A

Photos by Carlos Amoedo



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When I was about 15, 16 years old, there was a coach who I thought the world of. I loved her style, she was really intelligent, she had gone to Florida State, played basketball. All those things that I wanted, she had already accomplished. She was an engineer for a firm, and I was like, Oh man, I want to be just like her. Everything that she did, I wanted to be.

One day my mom just said to me, ‘I don’t want you hanging out with her anymore.’ I was hurt. I didn’t understand, and I asked her why and she just said, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

To many who might be listening to this and wondering, ‘Did this coach do something to you,’ the answer is absolutely not. All she did was open her world up. Never even said, ‘Oh I’m a lesbian.’ She just said this is who I am. And I looked up to her.

At that time, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters in the house, they were much older than me and moved out. So I appreciated her guidance.

I was messed up for a long time, for several months. It got to a point that I contemplated suicide because I felt lost. It was like my best friend was gone. I didn’t have anyone who could give me any guidance or leadership. I couldn’t come out to any family members and tell them what I felt was going on. Who could I talk to?

I was frustrated, lonely. I felt like I had no place I could go. I didn’t know a phone number for a help line or anything. I didn’t know how to describe me, let alone how to search for help.

I knew that my sexuality was not that of the norm. I also knew that my family, in particular my mom, is very religious. I didn’t want her to have to pick between her god and me. So you keep that to yourself. You don’t really open up.

Fortunately, there was one family member, Raymond, an older cousin, maybe eight years older than me. He was really cool and down to earth. He didn’t throw any stones. He didn’t judge me. I started having daily conversations with Raymond, and he would tell me, ‘Hey man, there’s nothing wrong with you … When you get older, even if you have some attraction to women, that’s OK, that’s all right.’

He saved my life. And you know what’s ironic? Just a year ago, he took his.

When I got to college, three hours away, I got away from other people’s regimes. I was probably around 19 or 20 years old when I came out. I bought my own property by the time I was 23 years old, working for corporate America. I was an overachiever.

My mom’s not totally excited, even to this day, about my sexuality. However, she respects me as an individual. Who I am as a lesbian, it’s tiny in comparison to who I am as a person.

Life is a lot better when you’re an adult. At the moment, you might think this is all that’s going on, this might seem like the end of the world to you. But it’s not. You’re just getting started.

It’s life. Keep pressing. It definitely gets better.

Mack Herron, 58

appliance specialist, Lowe’s

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