Growing up had never been easy for Dave. Ever since the beginning, he did not like the same things as the other boys – in fact, he felt more comfortable playing with the girls at school.
Everything had been especially difficult from the time he hit puberty. At this time he really noticed how different he was from the others.
He still vividly remembers how the other boys from school suddenly began to be interested in girls, while he had had a hard time understanding why. They were great friends, but he never felt attracted to them. The thought of kissing them or holding their hand never appealed to him in the slightest way.
Once he started in high school, he felt the full blow of everything. It had been so hard living up to his parents’ expectations. They had always had high expectations for him. His dad was a professional football player and his mom was a lawyer, so his dad wanted him to become an amazing football player like him, while his mom had demanded of him to be the best in his class, so he would have a bright future.
He had always been teased for being different – being a nerd, being too feminine, being weird. Everything they could think of.
One of his interests had always been acting. At the beginning, it was only a small interest, but it soon grew into a desire for being in front of the camera – a dream of wanting to become an actor. He knew he couldn’t do it though – his parents would never allow him to do such a reckless thing to his bright-looking life. Not being able to do the only thing he loved had been devastating, and he had gotten into a depression.
Another problem was his dad’s want for him to try out for the football team of the school. He had never wanted to do sports and he already had a hard time keeping up his good grades, but he decided to try anyway, only to make his dad proud of him.
That was what it had always been about – making his parents proud. Getting their love and accept. That was the things he had always wished for, but had never gotten.
High school had also been the place where he fell in love for the first time and finally found out just how different he was from the others. It had been a guy.
His parents were the kind of Christians, who went to church each and every Sunday and they were both very homophobic. He had even heard them say that homosexuals were a waste of life. He could not bear the thought of being something so wrong in his parents’ eyes, so he had prayed every single day.
Of course he never told the boy about his crush on him, because that would have ended in disaster. He did not want the whole school to know about his “illness”. He had been close to suicide, but he never did it.
In the second year of high school he got an offer from the local theatre. He had been sitting there again, looking wishfully at the stage like he did so often, when a man – the man who owned the place – had given him a hint about an audition for a new play. Dave still didn’t know if he had told him out of pity, but he had taken up the offer.
He had only had one week for learning his lines. It had been difficult, because he had to hide for his parents and keep school on track while doing so, but he had done everything to make it. He had been nervous at the audition, but he had done well. He didn’t get the lead role, but to his amazement he had gotten one of other the most important roles. He had been happier than ever before.
Here at the theatre, he had met so many nice people. People like him who loved acting. This was the first time he could just be himself instead of the person everybody else wanted him to be.
There had been one person that had drawn his attention more than the others though. Him. A guy named Chad. At first, it had been simple admiration because he had been everything Dave wanted to be – good at acting, a few years older, handsome, always smiling and making people get into a good mood with his positive, warm and funny personality. Not to mention the fact that he was openly gay and didn’t care about what others thought of him.
They had gotten closer and closer – and Dave’s feelings had come crashing down over him. He had never thought he had a chance, but as time went by, friendship turned to close friendship and soon enough, close friendship had turned into a secret relationship.
Dave had had a hard time accepting himself, but it had just felt so right. Like they were meant to be. Chad had been everything he ever wanted in a boyfriend. He was so sweet and supporting. They had spent many days and nights together, talking freely to each other. Chad lived in his own apartment, so Dave would sometimes sleep over, lying to his parents about where he went.
Dave had been living the double life – the “perfect” son and student at school and himself with his boyfriend at the theatre – for over a year, when something went wrong. The theatre had gotten more popular over time, so his mom had seen an advertisement for the newest play – with him in the lead role. She had been so angry, but he had pleaded her not to tell his dad and to at least give him a chance to prove how good he was.
After making her watch the play, she had been nicer. She had never approved, bit she did not stop him from acting.
Once his dad found out, he definitely wasn’t happy about it. He had been close to forbidding Dave to go back to the theatre, but Dave had begged him to understand. It had ended really well in the end and Dave had thanked his luck.
He hadn’t been so lucky half a year later. He had been 16 and life had finally begun to look better. It had been a day after one of his performances, where Chad – who had moved on to a bigger theatre – had been there to watch. Dave had done his best, just to impress him. After walking out of the big building, Chad had kissed him and praised him for his great performance.
What Dave hadn’t known was that his dad had decided to pick him up just that day and he had seen everything. He had stormed out of the car and roughly pulled him away from Chad, yelling about the sin he was committing. Dave still remembers his words; “This is just a phase! You’re not allowed to see that.. thing anymore. You’re coming home with me to pray for God’s forgiveness!”
The though of never seeing the love of his life had been the thing to finally make him realize just how important this new lifestyle was to him. He had told his dad that he would never stop seeing Chad – he had told him exactly how he had felt all those years.
He hadn’t been able to believe it when his dad had said the cold words that ended everything: “Then you aren’t our son anymore. Don’t come back home before you’re cured.” Then he drove off, not even looking back.
After that he hadn’t had any other choice than to move in with Chad. It had already been 10 years since that.
Yet another flash blinded his eyes for a second and he smiled at the cameras, before he began to speak.
“It’s an honor to stand here today. I’ve always dreamt of becoming an actor, and now I’m finally here. I want to thank everyone who made me into the person, I am now. I’ve went through a lot to stand here today – gone against my parents’ wishes, coming out and overcoming people’s opinions about homosexuals – but I couldn’t have felt like this or been this person today, if it hadn’t been for the problems I’ve went through. I know a lot of you support me now, and that means the world to me. Thank you, everyone!”
Yes, he had finally accepted himself and been accepted by others as well. He could finally be the person he wanted to be, doing what he wanted instead of what other people wanted. He finally reached what he had wished for – becoming a well-known and good actor and getting love and acceptance from his loving husband, Chad.
Growing up was never easy for Dave, but he made it.