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A closeted Democrat

It wasn’t easy being a closeted Democrat in my father’s house. I was outnumbered six-to-one and I was constantly reminded of it.

My father and I didn’t ever argue about grades, I was a 4.0 student. We never fought about curfews or girlfriends; I didn’t date girls, what with me being gay and all, and I didn’t have any problems with coming home on time. But we did fight incessantly about the benefits of supply-side economics and the Bush-era environmental impact.

“You’re not really a Democrat, right? I mean, not really. You just say that to get a rise out of me, don’t you?” My dad used to ask me, failing to comprehend how his own son could somehow support Kerry over Bush in 2004.

At first, it was tough to admit. I could feel the disappointment seeping from my Rush Limbaugh-loving father, and part of me still wanted to please him.

It wasn’t until I went to college, registered as a Democrat and began attending the College Democrat meetings, that I felt strong enough to register myself as a card-carrying party member and tell my dad I was living my life as an open Democrat.

It took about five years of hiding in the political closet for me to even admit to my family that I leaned a little to the left of their politics, it wouldn’t be until another three years that I would admit to them that I was also gay.

While studying at Utah State University, I used to sit on the couch just outside the queer resource center and watch the people going in and out of the room. How I envied them and their ability to be open about who they were. These students led the lives I so wanted to have, out and proud. They had parties, movie nights and other very public displays, including an open-mic on campus where students could stand up in a crowded area and tell their stories on National Coming Out Day.

During my junior year, I was starting to step very slowly out of the closet so I took the opportunity to sit down on the patio and listen to all the coming-out tales. I was enthralled by the idea of having the kind of courage these young men and women were displaying when a leader from my Mormon congregation sat down by me and asked if I was there to mock the queers.

“I just can’t support my public school ground being used in this way. It’s disgusting,” he said, seeking affirmation from me. I said nothing.

“I mean, just look at these guys, what a bunch of freaks,” he pushed on, speaking louder now and looking around to see if people would join him. My palms began sweating. I’d never told anyone I was gay before that moment.

“This display is seriously revolting,” he spat.

I still didn’t say anything. I just walked away. I was never so ashamed of myself in my life. Reliving the situation in my mind, I thought of about a million different responses, but I never said anything.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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