By JOSH CHAPMAN-GOMEZ
Growing up in Los Alamos came with many expectations, some of which I severely missed the bus on. Los Alamos High School had information available through the Gay, Straight, Alliance, but I did not even know that was a group until my senior year of high school, the year after the summer my best friend came out to me.
Growing up, sexuality was not really discussed in my home because it was never really an issue. My mother had gay friends when she was in college, so the discussion never really came up. By the time I reached my coming-of-age years, I knew that I was different, and was chastised by many for it, but did not know why I was different from all the other guys. I just knew that I felt differently, and it made me scared that I was going to be judged by my peers.
When my best friend came out to me our senior year of high school, I offered to accompany him to the GSA to support him, and later found out that I needed that support too. After graduation, I moved away to college attending Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. I still did not really know who I was at this point.
By the time I was 19, I was starting to come around and understand that these feeling were not going away, they were not “just a faze,” nor was I strange. I considered myself bisexual for many years, continuing to date girls, but never really taking that experience in the direction many of my straight friends were going. After graduating at the age of 24, I moved back home to take care of my father, and that is when things changed dramatically.
I began to seek companionship through online dating apps and had several adult experiences which solidified that I was gay. I grew comfortable with myself and others around me, however remained terrified of how my parents would accept that their only child was gay. I came out to my parents and was welcomed with open arms by my mother. My father was initially confused and a little disappointed because he always figured I would have my white picket fence, 2 kids, and a wife. When we got to talk, I reminded him all that was possible, just exchange wife with husband.
In 2015, I married my husband, just off the hill in El Rancho.
Los Alamos has grown tremendously in the last 12 years. The acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is astounding and inspiring. Seeing the acceptance in a town which I once considered closed minded and terrified of the changes that the world was placing on it has warmed my heart beyond belief.
It is incredibly important for equality events of all kinds to continue to gain traction in Los Alamos, and the Los Alamos Pride Festival is a great leap forward. I look forward to participating in the monumental event in the home town which I have loved and loathed for so many years. This town has gained a true understanding of inclusion, and will thrive.
I would like to add for those readers who may not fully understand the coming-out process.
Everyone has some sort of closet that they must come out of at some point in their life. For some, that closet is their sexuality or gender identity, and for others it may be a trauma which they have experienced, or a love of exotic antiquities. Any part of one’s self which may be considered controversial, taboo, or just a little weird can create a closet for which that person must hide that piece. Sexuality is a terrifying closet to leave, but as Los Alamos continues to progress, maybe we can help that closet be a little less dark for those who have to leave it.