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My name is Dustin Kight and I’m from North Augusta, South Carolina.
I knew from a pretty early age that I liked boys. But I was really, starting in 5th grade, kids were calling me gay and as mean as they could be because they were still too young to really know that it was mean, but I definitely felt ostracized because of it. And I was really defensive about it so my antidote to that was to have lots of girlfriends. So unlike a lot of gay friends that I know who were just weirdly anti-social in terms of the whole little kid dating thing and never dated girls, I always had a girlfriend.
So I felt like I kind of had that cover for a long time and had a pretty good mix of male and female friends and always sort of had a best guy friend who I usually had a crush on, which I’m sure if any of them saw this now they would think that was creepy. And looking back on it, it kind of was innocent and creepy at the same time. I didn’t really fully come out until I was 15. It was a little while later that I told my mom, we were in the car–it’s like every time I hear a coming out story, someone’s telling their mom in the car–but I told her, and I never really…I was less nervous with her, maybe because I’d already done it a couple of times. She just said, “You’re gonna die of AIDS. And I just know you’re going to have a really unhappy life.” And it wasn’t like, “So you shouldn’t be gay.” I mean there was a period of time for a couple of years where occasionally she would check in with me just to make sure I was still gay. But she wasn’t saying these are reasons why you shouldn’t be, it was more, “I’m your mother and this is all I know. All I know is that gay people die of AIDS and they live lonely lives. So you’re going to be lonely and unhappy. And I’m really sad about that.” Because of that, I just gave her the hardest time. Like if all the people in my life said homophobic things or inaccurate things that needed to be corrected, even though she deserved it the least, I’ve given her the hardest time.
My mom has finally started to talk about having a gay son with coworkers and stuff. A lot of who are fire and brimstone Southern Baptists conservative people. For a long time she was nervous about that, just the social isolation she might feel, which I understood, I mean that’s…I never felt like I had to ask her to do…to be as out as I was just because she’s been so great in other ways.