A coming out story, alternatively titled, it does get better.

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A coming out story, alternatively titled, it does get better.

My cousin and I in Chicago the weekend I was out of the house.

My cousin and I in Chicago the weekend I was out of the house.

My cousin and I in Chicago the weekend I was out of the house.

My cousin and I in Chicago the weekend I was out of the house.

By Grace Schumann, Reporter

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In honor of National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, here is my story.

It was the morning of June 25, 2016. It was a sunny Monday morning, the week after Father’s Day. The sun hadn’t quite come up yet and the heat of the day hadn’t quite set in yet. My morning started out hopeful, with a news alert that Congress was voting to legalize gay marriage. I vividly remember my breakfast, nothing but a cup of orange juice in my favorite floral cup.

It was that cup I asked if I should come out to my father that morning. The ice cubes clinking around must have sounded positive because I quickly told my mom what I was doing, headed outside and sat down across from my dad. The sun chair’s rust-colored cushions were wet with morning dew as I sat down cross-legged, hugging a pillow tightly. My father looked up from his iPad and greeted me jovially. After all, last week was Father’s Day, he was happy.

We talked for a while, about normal things. Then I brought It up.

“So the Supreme Court is deciding on gay marriage soon, how would you feel if I got married to a girl?”

That got his attention. I remember the rest as a sort of bubble of accusations, tears, and raised voices. The bubble pops with a slammed door, my back on one side, my dad screaming on the other. Fast forward three hours, and I am clinging to my mother’s arm as she escorts me to her car, insisting I go to drivers ed. I did end up going- but I didn’t retain much.

My grandmother picked me up and drove me to her house. While I was in class, my mother had dropped off enough clothes for the weekend at my grandparent’s and arranged for me to stay at least the night with my cousin who was staying the week.

That weekend I went into downtown Chicago with my cousin, we were 15. I spent all my money, cried my eyes dry, laughed until my ribs felt like they collapsed, and worried like I never had before. After all, I was going home in 48 hours. On the eve of my homecoming I stayed up all night, watching the lights of downtown Elmhurst and thinking.

After what felt like both an eternity and the blink of an eye, I was in the car on my way home. The morning light filtered through the buildings flickering past. I felt like a prisoner twiddling his thumbs on death row.

Then I was at home. Then seven days passed. Silence from my father, not even looking me in the eyes. It was a Sunday when he spoke to me again, one week later. He spoke to me about the AIDS crisis, his values he learned growing up in southern Florida, his love for me- not my ‘choice’ of loving girls. He apologized for his anger, I apologized for isolating him. He wanted the best for me, he did not understand.

After that day began a long process of acceptance, starting with a week of detox. No one in our family used electronics, we talked at dinner, watched movies, argued, it was a little bit of a mess. But the mess was good.

Ten months later March of 2017,  my father attends a therapy session with me. It was hard, two of the most stubborn Schumanns sitting in a room talking about their emotions. Or to be more accurate, one speaking about her emotions and the other grunting. It was progress. Three more months fly by, and the father and the girl are back in the same couch and chair. This time, both speak.

One year, three months, and 22 days later after that fateful Monday. Father and daughter sit on the family couch playing a video game and joking together. The daughter comments that one girl character is very pretty in the game, and the father agrees. It gets better. All scars fade, metaphorically and physically. Nine times out of 10, parents want the best for you.

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