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Living Out Loud: Joe Picini October 12th, 2011
Living Out Loud: Joe Picini

One thing my father started telling me around my junior year of high school was that college was going to be a fresh start. No one would really know me there and I could completely reinvent myself if I wanted to.

I was fairly happy with the person I was – pretty much comfortable with my personality, but I knew going into college that there was one thing I wanted to change: I wanted to be open about my sexuality.

Sure, my closest high school friends knew that I wasn’t exactly straight, but deep down inside I knew that as much as I wanted to be attracted to women, as much as I desperately wanted to be “normal” I was kidding myself.

When I got to college, I was literally surrounded by people who were gay. It was almost overwhelming to be with all these people who were similar to me. Some were out for years, others still in the closet. I kept true to the promise I made to myself and lived openly as a gay man at college.

I felt accepted by my peers for who I was and, for the most part, things were going really great.

Now, I knew I wanted to come out to my family over winter break because I wanted to be home to answer any questions they might have and physically be there if they were having trouble with the news. I did not plan on coming out to them the day before Christmas Eve.

In November of my Freshman year, I met someone online who completely misrepresented himself.  Everything from his age to being a current student at my university. I won’t say too much more about him because this is my story, not his.

Once I figured out that he was not at all as he appeared, I tried to break things off with him. No sooner had I left school for Winter Break did I start receiving texts from him with my parents’ names, home phone number and home address. He threatened to show up at my house on Christmas Eve.

The last thing I wanted to do was come out before Christmas, but I made a choice. A choice that ensured my father would hear the truth about my orientation from me and no one else. I walked into my dad’s home office, sat down across from him and said, “Dad, I have a problem.” I told him all that happened since November. When I finished, he asked if there was anything sexual about my relationship with him and I told him the truth. Yes, there was.

All my dad and Step mom’s energy was focused on getting this person out of my life that they really didn’t have time to process me being gay until sometime after that. They went right into protector mode. After that, my dad was adamant about telling the other members of my family for me because he wanted to shield me from their reactions. In the end, everyone took it well and my relationship with my family is as strong as ever. I’ve been living out loud for nearly four years now and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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