Out Of Missouri
How Montreal and a Well-Timed Craigslist Ad Helped Me Come Out
Somewhere in the heart of America, a little east of Dorothy’s house, you’ll find a place where the rivers run.
This is the Show Me State—my homeland. I’m a Missourian.
But I’m also a gay Missourian.
Growing up in the American Midwest is exactly like you’d imagine. Fridays were for football games, Sundays were for church.
My life wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t awesome either. At that time, homosexuality was a taboo topic in Missouri. Gay-bashing was used by all and rarely received reprimand from teachers or parents.
Throughout high school, my closest friends were girls. In a football-centred macho society, this, along with my obsession for languages, clearly set me apart.
During the tumultuous period of puberty, I found myself attracted to other guys. I lived in a constant state of paranoia, assuming that everyone was accusing me of being “the F word.” In reality, I’m sure most people couldn’t have cared less.
Despite these attractions and secret, guilt-ridden porn-watching sessions, I concluded my homosexuality would dissipate as soon as I was thrown into a more diverse crowd. Obviously it was just a reaction to not fitting in, right?
“What is the exact social and political opposite of Missouri?” I wondered to myself.
My French teacher, a native of Montreal, first told me about the city. It sounded like just what I needed. And at 19, the allure of francophone culture and cheaper tuition pushed me to pack my bags. I was ready to embark on new adventures in a new country.
My first years here, I tried my best to suppress “the gay.” In 2010, my cover was finally blown. A close, yet persistent friend got me to confess my same-sex attractions. He then proceeded to betray my trust by posting an ad for me on the Craigslist m4m personals titled “Never been in a long-term relationship before.” I was beyond furious.
Yet, as the emails rolled in, I saw that some of the guys sounded decent and, like me, were looking for something more than sex.
At the time, I felt betrayed by my friend. Today, I know that I owe him a debt. He changed my life.
As I slowly came out to my friends, my perspective changed. My friends didn’t care about who I wanted to be with. They supported me. It was remarkable how little changed after I came out. I was still the same Andrew as before.
I tried getting involved with the LGBTQ club at school. They were all incredibly nice people, but it just wasn’t my circle. Being out did not mean I had to change my friends or adopt new political ideas.
My entire life, I’d been fighting to fit in with the norm. By being true to myself and to my friends and for the first time, I finally felt that.
On Nov. 18, 2012, I was ready to get rid of my last remaining inner struggle—I decided to come out to my parents.
It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I dialed my mother’s number. She listened patiently as her trembling son told her that he was gay. At the end, she gave a short laugh and said the most beautiful words she has ever said to me.
“Andrew, our love for you is unconditional. We love you for who you are and support you.”
After hearing that from my conservative Midwestern parents, I knew that no matter how much I messed up in this life, they would always be there. For the first time, I truly appreciated the extent of their love. Without them, I couldn’t be where I am today.
Not everyone is blessed with accepting families or friends, but inside each of us we have ourselves. I know that I am one of the lucky ones, but one thing that I gained from this experience is that it’s okay to be different—but it’s also okay to be different from the different.
I’m incredibly proud that, throughout my coming-out process, I stayed true to myself. I was Andrew, just Andrew. The boy from Missouri.