“THAT FELT LIKE AN ISLAND AND IT SEEMED FUN”
April 2020 / Interviewed by Josue
Randy was the first born of four in a religious family with strict parents. His upbringing was not the best as his mother suffered with mental health issues and his father was not involved; only working to provide for the family but lacking empathy for his kids. Randy became involved with the church youth group at a local high school when he began to explore his sexuality with girls but noticed his attraction to the same sex. Due to his religious background, Randy decided to suppress these feelings and continue with his life.
“Throughout my life, I would notice boys at my school or on TV and would not understand why I was attracted to the same sex. I thought something was wrong with me. I did not know what gay was because I was so sheltered. We could only watch certain shows on TV like Silver Spoons, or Growing Pains. The shows that had family values in them.
“I dated a girl from my church when I was sixteen and we did not go out but just had a label. We would go to church events together. That was the first time I kissed a girl. Being so shy and sheltered, I did not have a high self-esteem and we ended up breaking up. I started dating another girl who would become my wife. We were together for seventeen years and had two beautiful children. We got a divorce due to her cheating on me with another man.
“During my marriage, I knew that I was attracted to men, but I would never pursue any feelings based on my upbringing and the fact that I was married. I was loyal to my family and I knew that I was never going to pursue or deal with those feelings. I suppressed them deep down.
“My father would make rude remarks about gay men throughout my life. I would hear him say things like why is that guy wearing a pink shirt, or when Ellen came out, he would say gays will go to hell and called her an abomination. He would consistently make these remarks anytime he would see gay people on tv or in public. It was engraved in my mind that gay people would go to hell and not heaven, so I would not think about those feelings. My father would say that gays should live on an island on their own so they can all die.
“There was a bar by my work that I had to pass to get home and I was always curious about going in there. I was afraid to go in, I would park my car in the parking lot and just sit there for a couple minutes, chicken out and leave. This happened for about a month. One day I built up the courage to go in, grab one beer, and leave. The first time I was there, I found it so strange to see guys with other guys, the bartender with no shirt, the TVs displaying Madonna music videos, and guys dancing with each other. My father would come to mind saying those gays should go on an island together. That felt like an island and it seemed fun. I left after having my beer. After leaving, I realized that I liked it and would continue to go to the bar every week on Sunday. I started talking to other people who would go there every Sunday like me. I started to feel good about myself. I still felt like I could never share this with anyone else. It was my happy place.
“I was out with my boyfriend at the time and we were at Disneyland. We never show PDA and he decided to hold my hand for less than a second. We were shopping and I get a text from my ex-wife who said your son’s friend saw you with a guy holding hands. She said I know you are gay. Then I got a call from my dad who left a message saying that he needs to talk to me as soon as I got home. When I got home which my parents lived with me at the time, my parents went off on me and called me terrible names. Even though I bought the house we were living in, they said if I choose to live that lifestyle, I could not continue to live under the same roof as them. I decided to leave the house. My mother and father disowned me and so did my younger brother. My father raised us very religiously and he decided to live his life with hate in his heart for me, when the bible teaches forgiveness and love. It is a shame, but I am happy with my life and wish them the best.”
Narrator's oral history has been shared with their permission. Oral history has been lightly edited for length and clarity and to protect narrator's privacy.