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My parents seemed equal parts exasperated at the night I had put them through and concerned about what this coming out might forebode.
The treatment for both, it seemed, would be to start taking church more seriously.
I was sixteen and my leg could barely stop shaking I was so frightened.
On our second date I told my parents I would be staying the night at a friend’s house and instead spent the night with the first gay man I had ever met.
Up until that point my family had gone to Mass most Sundays, but it was more akin to something inherited, like being Irish, than something chosen.
Whether as punishment or remedy or both, my parents wanted church to become something personal. The parish my family attended was another town over and had a big youth group which combined some of the more engaging practices of the surrounding nondenominational megachurches with the old school traditions of Catholicism.
Linking ourselves together in the faith that absent the egocentric leanings of the individual, we might actually recover a natural order to life.
And what that consensus found in my case was that being gay was, well, not okay.
Which was enough to help me set the gay stuff on the shelf for a while.
In my haste I had forgotten to tell my friend to cover for me if anyone called and my parents had spent the whole night desperately looking for me.
Arriving home, most everything came spilling out under my parents’ interrogation.
I did eventually come out to my folks and a few friends in high school, though it was far from the way I would have planned. Tired of faking my way through girlfriends and tortuous school dances, I turned to the internet.
There was no celebration or relief, and certainly no pride. Back before there were apps on your phone to tell you how close the nearest match might be, I lied about my age and found a college student a couple towns away who would buy me dinner and take me to a movie.