my “coming out” story

(published 10/11/11)

today, on “National Coming Out Day” i thought it might be good to share a bit of my story.

(she “didn’t” but she would soon) photo taken in the “Gay Mecca of San Francisco” (inside joke)

though the lightness of this photo taken just 3 weeks after I’d come out might say otherwise, my coming out was an excruciating process–mostly to the people who were (and still are) attached to my life: Pam, the boys, and many friends. “coming out” required me to:

  • leave a marriage…
  • potentially end a relationship with two boys who’d become as my own sons
  • possibly rob two boys of the mother they’d always wanted
  • risk further breaking my adopted mother’s already broken heart
  • sever ties with many friends
  • leave a church body i’d grown up and raised my children in
  • risk my job and my role as a parent volunteer within the school system

but despite all these risks, i simply had to come out. and not so much come out gay but come out Todd. (for more, read this.)

simply put: i had to do it to save my life. 

i could no longer tolerate the lying, the deceit, and the denial of my true self.  and quite out of  nowhere, the opportunity presented itself and just as quickly, it was done.

the cost was enormous: within days, i found myself bereft of lifelong relationships and friendships with men i had once turned to with my raw heart; i was stared at, some people avoided me or looked at me with sad eyes; some dared criticize me for what i did to my children while others told me they hoped i didn’t get AIDS. within days, my former church even told the parents of the children i worked with that i “was never left alone with the children.” that hurt perhaps more than anything.

but the good news…tho still far from perfect, i no longer hate the “gay” in me. i celebrate it, embrace it, and treat it just like any other part of me: my creativity, my empathetic nature, my klutziness, my willingness to help others, my love for my children, my family, my friends. my “gayness” no longer defines me and it still does not.

what’s more:

  • i may have legally ended a marriage but there has been absolutely no finality to the relationship with the woman i married, someone who still loves, accepts, and honors me as her marriage vows indicated she would.
  • instead of losing sons, my relationship with daniel and drew has only grown stronger and deeper. and i feel loved and respected by those boys now more than i ever have before.
  • although one mother has completely abandoned zach and hayden, pam did not ever leave them and to this day remains a vibrant, essential part of their lives. and always will.
  • to this day, my adopted mother exhibits unconditional love for me. while she does not accept my choice, she does not withhold her love and support of me or make it an issue with respect to our relationship. my birth mother instantly accepted me for who i am and i know is still smiling down on me.
  • my true friends never really left me and “rose to the top,” weeding out many extraneous, unhealthy, non-beneficial relationships. and what’s more: being open and honest with myself has led me into relationships with many new friends–gay and particularly straight, female and male–many of whom i’d judged as closed minded and unfriendly.
  • i may have lost a church but i now understand the difference in empty, false, shallow religion vs. spirituality as well as what authentic Christian love really is. spirituality  is still a journey for me but the “Universe” is leading me and granting me awareness daily. And God’s love has never left me.
  • being open and honest with my sexual identity has hindered me socially and professionally but in the  end, people may hate my identity but they cannot argue with my talent, ability, or productivity. and as many people know, my parent volunteering has only increased!
  • and, perhaps most profoundly: coming out has alleviated the ignorance many people had about gays and abolished some stereotypes about us.
    through my day-to-day life and an unwillingness to flee my rural, narrow-minded little town, i have been able to show people that we’re NOT pedophiles after their children; that we cannot be defined by or limited to the weak and unimaginative stereotype of “limp-wristed, lisp-speaking, sexually deviant;” that we are families just as normal (and dysfunctional) as any heterosexual family; that we are not after every man; that some of us like sports; and that we’re not all flag-waving, in-your-face fags yelling “we’re here and we’re queer.”

[that said, i must admit not all stereotypes were removed: people do still think we’re pretty much fabulous in general, have great hair, and excellent style.]

i know not everyone’s coming out experience will be as pleasant as mine has ended up. and no one should come out until s/he is ready. i hope, though, when you are able to admit to yourself that it’s time to live an authentic life, stop hating yourself, and decide it’s time to take that step, that
  • you will experience the life-saving relief that i have.
  • that you will have friends (and hopefully family) around you to remind you how loved you are.
  • that you will never again be afraid to embrace and love the wonderful creation that you are.

Read also:
Coming out matters,
especially if you’re straight (10/11/13)

71 thoughts on “my “coming out” story

  1. I’m happy that your coming out allowed you such freedom and joy. It’s wonderful that not only were you allowed to recognize how truly beautiful a person you are, but you were finally able to be authentic, as well. Your boys got a great role model in you.

  2. Todd – Loved the post – so glad that you consider me a friend and hope that I helped somewhere along the way! – Kenny

  3. dear, sweet friend……….i love you so much, and love to hear you speak of the relief you feel and the happiness you have found. sometimes we just have to stop, look around, and remind ourselves of what we HAVE, and not what we still want. i am so thankful that we have this friendship and love for each other, and pray that it continues to grow as we help and support each other.

  4. No regrets here, Todd. I wouldn’t trade our family for anything. Thank you for being such a great dad and role model for our boys.

  5. That was a very sweet blog. I’m so glad you are happy. And i mean that!  And I have to tell you I have mixed feelings but not about what a wonderful person and dad you are!!!  BUT one thing I have learned in my life is – I WILL NOT judge!  I have been judged countless times and it has taught me that all we really need to do is love others and respect them.

    • J: thanks for sharing this with not only me, but anyone who may stumble upon my story, so that they can see your example firsthand.

    • sometimes the Universe has a strange way of propelling us into what it wants for us. others do it for some…while some of us went kicking and screaming. 🙂 i look forward to reading your coming out story next year 🙂 (or have you already written it? 🙂

  6. Todd, may we all, one day, be as fortunate as you to live our authentic life. Be it sexually, emotionally, or spiritually…may we all have that peace within. I applaud you and your eloquently spoken words.

  7. I loved reading this. And the best apart about it is that the relationships that mean something are only going to get stronger. We have been through more than most families and as much as we aren’t “suppose to be” family anymore we still are and I wouldn’t change the way it is for anything.

    Could you imagine what it would take to break apart the strength that our family now has?

    • you are your mother’s son… so full of grace and love.

      this is wonderful to wake up to and the affirmation your words provide me is invaluable….as is being your “extra” dad.

      (and no–i cannot imagine ANYTHING pulling the 6 of us apart.)


      • You have a such a way of communicating your story that touches my heart. I am so happy we found each other,and that I have such a great brother in you. What Daniel wrote really inspires me and I hope my girls turn out as adults with that much love and respect for us their parents. A real testament to both of you. Love you brother. Love, Sissy

      • oh how i wish i’d had you and mitchley and jenn and michael (and “all the others” haha) to grow up with … but i fully believe that the Universe has brought us all together at just the right time. just as he did with pam and the boys.

        and there’s no doubt that those girls will be just as full of love as you!

        much love to you sissy!

  8. Todd… thank you so much for sharing. I coudl tell that you are a great man and know that so many others people the same way. I hope to one day get to meet you my friend. Keep smiling buddy… it’s good to be true to one’s self!

    • thank you my twitter buddy–you’re always so kind! not sure about the great part but i sure do have great friends and family…! let’s plan on that meet-up man! 🙂 tweet ya soon!

    • only way i know to be now. 😉 and a long time coming. i hope it does empower some others on this journey–or those who are in a position to lift up those who are. thanks for your comment.

  9. I respect your truth in coming out. You had already established urself and It takes a real man to admit who he is especially when there is so much to lose. What I respect about u as a friend is that u are a father. My dad was the 1st in my family that I told about me being gay. As a son, I trusted my dad and he was a man about the whole thing….As a man and a dad all he had to do was love his son….And so he did.

    • very touched by your response, C, particularly the part about being your friend.

      the concept of “manliness” in our culture is really effed up. what your father did in response to ur coming out is the epitome of manliness. loving and standing by his “cub” … (:

      wish I’d had that in my life but I believe the absence has made me the father I am today.

      thanks for taking time to comment.

  10. Now that was a great Blog Todd! I love the honesty in your story. You were determined to be the REAL at any cost and you should be commended for that!

    • thanks Ben. it took a long time to stand up and finally do it…and I remain determined to try to be the most authentic me I can…

      work in progress tho! (:

  11. I am honored that you chose to share this with us. The journey you took and the way in which you express your emotions touched my heart. You are truly a fantastic person. I am glad you are able to live a more authentic life now and wish you nothing but happiness in your future.

    • awww my twitter friend….how nice to be able to share my story with a friend and know that you were moved by it … i am humbled by your kudos and remain thankful for your friendship….

  12. Tierra Stordahl loved your blog! you really painted your story well to me and i started to cry. it is so wonderful that you had the great support of your family to help you through. what you said about your wife was beautiful. there arent to many women in …the world that would have reacted the same, you are truely blessed to have her as the mother of your children. it is so sad that when people hear that a man is gay they automatically resort to thinking ‘watch your children’ as if being gay has anything to do with being a child molester! thank you for sharing your story!

    • “another-Sister” …thank you for such a gracious, perceptive comment…. so very blessed, yes, that they call Pam “mom” … and that she is such a stalwart friend to me now.

      one of the things that held me back the longest–besides the obvious–was “would i ever be able to work with children again” … while the Christians had to address it among themselves (people who should know better) the community at large has been much more discerning and have not eschewed my role as a parent volunteer in the least; they knew i was gay before and it made no difference that i was out about it. it still shocks some people to see my sons’ friends come up to me, hug me, and call me dad. i think those boys have done MORE for the cause of “accepting gays” than anyone’s!

  13. Amazing story my friend. Again you have proved that the struggle to be who you are born to be is worth the effort as it far outweighs the pain of living a repressed non authentic life. M

    • i appreciate the gracious comment from such a leader and thinker within the movement to accept everyone. i will say living in an authentic manner on a daily basis is NOT without great challenge! 🙂

  14. When you realize that in the end it is you that must live with yourself day to day, you come to know who fits with that and who doesn’t. Anyone is free to keep stepping if it doesn’t suit their fancy, as my grandmother would say. I think of Heather Small, “What have you done today, to make you feel PROUD?”

    • this is all so true, skoot. and i admire how you live your life… you’re so very authentic and that’s very endearing!

  15. Hi Todd. I finally was able to take time and sit down and read your latest blog post. Somewhat fitting that I just finished watching Oprah’s LifeClass episode about being truthful about who you are. I had already told you that I created my twitter account in order to establish a group of friends and acquaintances that I could gain advice from and support as I journey down my own path of finding peace in my life. I count it as a blessing that I found and have you as a twitter friend. I have yet to take the step that you have already made, but I know my first step isn’t that far away. Thanks for the blog post and for being my twitter friend.


    • tim: so glad your path led you to, at some point, cross my own. i am here for you before, during, and after you take that particular step 🙂 and whether you are aware, you involvement in my own life is a blessing to me as well.

  16. Awesome story about a big decision. Hopefully someone in a similar situation will be able to see that it’s not about what you might lose but what you will gain by making this choice for yourself. You might not know it but there is always someone there to support you. Congrats on enduring this struggle and coming out stronger in the end! 🙂

    • thanks, K….. i do think what it’s all about is being able to help someone else through sharing one’s story. the fruits of my “struggle” (funny, bcz “struggle” is exactly what my ex-gay therapy therapist used to call one’s homosexuality) have been vast….including meeting some really great people. 🙂 thanks for commenting.

  17. Lovely, thoughtful post, Todd. The decision to come out is not always a straightforward one. As you point out, one does have to reckon with stereotypes (which are stereotypes precisely because they often have a kernel of truth). It is always wonderful to see someone on the other side of the closet door who 1) recognizes that it doesn’t make the world suddenly rosy and unicorny, but 2) still wouldn’t change the decision because at least one is in a truthful relationship with the world, rather than one based on deception.

    • awww Lex, thank you for your thotful response. 🙂

      your point about stereotypes is accurate; i just want ppl to see past them. [and while i’m doing this, shows like LogoTV’s “The A-List” comes along and reinforces the VERY WORST stereotypes about us!

      and yes, i would not change my decision at all.

    • maybe i’m just really super-blessed, but i believe i have actually gained more happiness and love–yes more than I could have imagined! thank you for your comment!

  18. Oh Todd…I absolutely LOVE your story. It made me smile, feel joy for you, and feel sadness at people’s ignorance & hate. I am so sorry for the hurt you experience when finally being free to be you, but I am so delighted that you are happy and that freedom!! I am thankful to have you as a friend Love you much. ~Brooke

    • thanks, Brooke…i think “pain” may always be part of our human experience…..but there’s no reason happiness can’t return, exist, abound–even flourish!

      i appreciate your friendship and love–and value it immensely.

  19. Todd, your words are so moving,truly a gift my friend!! I have loved you from the day I met you! I can’t imagine my life without you friend. My heart breaks for people who call themselves Christian but yet do not love as Christ did!! Im sorry for their ignorance . They are missing out on true blessings! . You are an amazing father and taught your boys so many life lessons! I just want you to have a true peace and be happy. Have daily strength in knowing how much you are loved my many! I’ll love you forever my friend!

    • *SO touched*

      thank you sister-friend for being one of VERY few people in my life (i can count…3? 4?) who, after i’d made the decision to come out, came up to me (and you may not remember this) during one of those 7th grade GMS games and talked to me, sat by me, continued to befriend me, and told me to quit hiding and to hold my head up. i have not forgotten this…and never will.

      you have raised your children with the same unconditional, true love that Christ taught us. those 3 kids have never failed to treat me just the same. even Al’s kiddos have been gracious and friendly to me. and yeah, then there’s Al: you picked a man who is of the same heart. a “man’s man,” Al has always made me feel accepted and “normal.”

      thank you for never once failing to love and encourage me, my forever friend.

  20. Hey Todd, I just stumbled upon your post while using the wordpress search function and I’m so happy I did. This is a great story to read and I’m glad you’re better off now then you were before coming out. Kudos to you for telling your story on your blog, I’m looking forward to reading through a few more posts!

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  22. Great coming out story Todd. I am particularly moved by this part: “•and, perhaps most profoundly: coming out has alleviated the ignorance many people had about gays and abolished some stereotypes about us.
    through my day-to-day life and an unwillingness to flee my rural, narrow-minded little town, i have been able to show people that we’re NOT pedophiles after their children, that we’re not all limp-wristed, lisp-speaking, sexually deviant predators, that we are families just as normal (and dysfunctional) as any heterosexual family, that we are not after every man, that some of us like sports, and that we’re not all flag-waving, in-your-face fags yelling “we’re here and we’re queer.” (we’ll leave that sort of unflattering behavior to the Christians and other fringe organizations)”

    Amen. Coming out has been the most liberating experience of my life too. And, I think being gay fathers adds another unique and special dimension to our lives.



    • gay or not, being a father is the best part of my life. and I am thankful that my sons accept me for who I am, no matter what I’ve done. I’m blessed to have raised them with a woman who helped teach them that.

      thanks for the comment. I look forward to reading ur blog and continuing this journey with shared perspectives.

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  27. I don’t know if I commented on this last year but – great blog, Todd! Sometimes I forget how hard it is/was/can be for people. Happy Coming Out Day!

  28. Todd my friend I’m glad to know you’ve finally have found the serenity and love you so dearly deserved from friends and family. Now to fight to get the rest who have no voice, a voice in this world so they dont have to live in fear.

  29. Hey Toddie )

    Thanks, I loved reading this. And I am so glad it turned out so wonderful for you. I read so many things about being gay in other countries, esp the USA and it makes me sad and also angry sometimes. And I count my blessings. I am so lucky, I couldn’t even really write a coming out story, I don’t have one.
    I admire you and others who have to go through this whole process, simply to be able to be happy. Isn’t it sad and strange?

    I am glad you did and that you inspire others.

    Love, Roy

    • it IS amazing that yes, it took me almost 4 decades of my life to learn to become HAPPY with who I am! sometimes i feel like a young man all over again with endless possibilities ahead. but all things in time; despite not being completely authentic all those years, i have enjoyed many moments of happiness and know that the “real me” (good and bad) was present far more than i probably realize!

      i have certainly lived a blessed life, much more than i could ever hope for.

      to your point, though, i hope that some day children can simply be who they are without having to fret about “coming out.”

      thanks for the encouragement and sharing my story. 🙂 love, todd

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