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Earle Ratcliffe

December 1997

Hi everyone. This is my first article for Oasis, and it probably won't be the last. I live in a small town in northern Canada called Terrace (pop 20,000). The nearest settlement of similar size is 2 1/2 hours (by car) away. The nearest city over 100,000 people is Vancouver, a mere 15 hours by car. Just an indicator of the isolation of my hometown. I'm openly gay. In a small town like this, it's not easy. I've never been this victim of a gay-bashing (yet), but if it happens, they'll find out this fag bashes back! Well, I'm babbling. I wrote to tell the story of my coming out...

I first told a friend in Grade 8 (I was 13). I'll call him Bobby. I was spending the night at his house one weekend, and I decided to tell him. We were sleeping in the same bed, and I just blurted out "I'm gay". He said "Oh. I guess that's pretty heavy." We didn't talk any more about it. I moved to the couch during the night. Later that week, I said it was probably just a phase. We never talked about it until my grade 11 year.

It was Grade 11 when I finally started coming out. I think Americans would refer to Grade 11 as the Junior year. Anyway, I told my bestest friend, Erin (her real name) that I was gay. She said "Cool!". Oh, she's a funny one, that Erin. She loves gay guys. She hangs around in Gay chat rooms all the time! That was a major event for me. I finally had my confidante, my partner in crime. We'd cruise the guys together (never getting anywhere, never really wanting to). We'd look at guys' asses and rate them (Bobby was a 10!). She's my best friend. If it weren't for her, I might not have made it...

So I told a few friends in high school. Every thing was fine.

After high school, I told Rhonda (not her real name), who was another close friend's sister. She told her friend, who I worked with, who told her boyfriend (who I also worked with). She also told her other friend (who I work with now). Rhonda also told her mom. Her mom told two friends and my friend, Steven (Not real name). Steven told his entire class at the local college (by accident, or so he says). Steven had a major problem with my sexuality (actually, so did Rhonda). See, they were raised as fundamentalist Christians. Their mom, however, although very religious, was the one who got through to them about me still being the same person inside. While Steven wasn't comfortable, we're still friends today. He's getting used to the idea (he even said he wouldn't mind meeting my boyfriend at the time, who I'm not with anymore....that's another article). We've (Steven and I) basically went our separate ways, but still keep in touch, and see each other regularly. It wasn't fine at first, and that leads to my relationship with my mother.

I didn't have a relationship with my mother, really. I kept totally to myself at home. We never talked about things like homosexuality, although it wasn't taboo. It just wasn't brought up. That was fine with me. Anyway, when Steven first found out (from his sister, remember?), he came over and asked if it was true. I said "Yes, and I can prove it if you want" That came out totally wrong. I meant that I could show him my gay magazines. He took it the wrong way, and left. He didn't speak to me for a week. That's when I came out to my mom. I was so depressed, I had to talk to someone. I went to my mom, who was watching TV. I took the remote and turned it off, and said "Mom, I need help". I'd never done anything like that before, so she knew something was up. I just sat beside her and hugged her. I couldn't say it for a while. Then she asked me what was wrong, and I told her. Without missing a beat, she said "I'll love you no matter what". I cried. She cried. We cried for a long time. I told her about Steven, and she said if he was really my friend, he'd come around.

That was the beginning of my relationship with my mother. After I came out to her, I really opened up, and so did she. We found out all sorts of things about each other. We became really close. She was supportive of me in whatever I did. Hell, she even bought me Playgirls! (Like I said, she was totally cool). That was August of 96. In September, she was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. She passed away on March 9th, 1997. My only regret in life was not coming out to her sooner. We talked before she died about how she wished I had said something sooner, so I wouldn't have had to have been alone. We had only a few months together as a real family, but those were some of the best months of my life. I guess the moral of the story is to come out as soon as you can. You may miss out on the best part of your life. I understand that some people might not be as lucky as I was, but you have to take your destiny into your own hands and live your own life. It's the only way you'll ever be happy.


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