Published on July 10th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles0
Just Halfway Out & No Longer Living a Lie
by Tim Unruh
I grew up in a conservative Christian home on a farm in Kansas in a loving and close family of seven children. The earliest that I can remember my attraction to boys was at the age of four and those feelings continued to intensify and create an internal emotional conflict that I battled throughout my childhood and teenage years. In my generation, you just couldn’t be a Kansas farm boy from a small rural town and be gay. Honestly, the word “gay” didn’t even exist in our vocabulary and I wouldn’t truly understand the full meaning of it until my last year or two of high school. So I just did all the things that “normal” boys did and continued to hide my little secret.
I married a beautiful girl in my late 20’s and we had a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy. I soon began to focus completely on my son, and drifted away from his mother. After less than two years of marriage, we divorced. We shared custody of our son until he was 11, at which point he moved with me to Iowa when I relocated for a new job. Now, away from the farm and small town living, my life began to change. The internet opened up a new world for me and I was able to secretly explore the gay world around me. As time passed, I became braver. I began to sneak out and meet guys, and for the first time in my entire life I was able to begin to explore the real me.
My son was my life. I poured every ounce of energy, time, and love into him. I raised him as my best friend, always telling him that he could talk to me about anything, and he believed I was doing the same thing. I became his idol, his hero, and in his eyes I could do no wrong. But the secret I was keeping began to eat away at my insides.
My biggest fear was that if I came out to my son, I’d lose him forever. My life began to spiral downwards with depression and alcohol. I continued to secretly meet guys, and sometimes even not-so-secretly. I’d lie to my son about who these guys were, and continued to get more daring in my actions. At the age of 17, he became suspicious, and read some emails that I had so carelessly left exposed on my computer. The secret was out. He talked to one of his teachers that he was close to and she helped him figure out how to approach me. So one night in 2007, it all finally came out. We talked, cried, hugged, and my son looked at me and said, “You’re still the same dad that you were before, I love you just the same as before, and I’ll always be here to support you.” Whew.
Although the load was off my chest, it didn’t mean that my life was any less complicated. My son loved me, but he was also just 17, and he began to struggle. His friends found out, I brought guy friends into our home, and for a while things went from bad to worse. A year later my son moved off to college, which gave us both some space to live our own lives, and gradually things began to improve. Today he’s still my best friend and we’re closer than ever. He’s graduating from the University of Central Florida in August and I’m proud of who he’s become.
In November of 2010 my life changed forever. I met a 21 year-old college student from Missouri on Match.com and we began to spend hours texting and talking on the phone. Less than a month after “meeting” online, we met and spent a weekend together. I knew from the first day that God had sent Bret to me and I fell in love. We were married in Iowa on August 4, 2012. My husband is 24 and I’m 51, so that presents many challenges that we’ve had to overcome. My son has fully accepted my husband and they have become good friends. Bret’s family is absolutely amazing, has supported Bret, and accepted me into their family. Bret has been an answer to my prayers. He has helped me through my struggles with depression and alcohol, and today I can proudly say that I am eight months sober!
My coming out has not been without its share of disappointment, heartache and pain. It has brought me much closer to many and distanced me from a few. I am now out to friends and family, but am still being forced to hide my personal life at my job, which is why I like to think of myself as “just halfway out“. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that coming out can be a traumatic and scary thing. But I am thankful every day that I wake up that I made that decision and freed myself from the load that I carried for so many years. I am no longer living a lie. I have found happiness and am at peace with myself for once in my life. I know that there are many people struggling right now through the same things that I’ve endured. We are making progress in the march towards gay acceptance and equality. We are not there yet but we have come a long ways. My hope is that in sharing my story that it might instill hope and courage in others who are struggling through the same situation. Believe in yourself and find strength in others and you too will rise up and find the peace and happiness that you so deserve.
Tim D. Unruh – Writes a blog called www.justhalfwayout.com that shares his life story of his struggles with growing up gay in small town rural America. How he learned to deal with his sexuality, religion, depression, alcohol abuse and coming out to his son, friends and family.