Two strikes: Growing up gay and handicapped

I have always known I was gay. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I knew what attraction to the same sex was called, but I knew I like boys better than girls.

I tried asking girls out; it never worked. I would date once, and then that would be it.

In grade school and middle school, I always picked girls (at least subconsciously) I knew were safe, either they were never interested, or they were already taken. I never thought it was the “gay thing,” as I never really came out to myself. No, I thought it was the “dis abled” thing (I have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy and because of it, I walk with a limp).

gay & disabled

On reflection, I see it was probably a bit of both: the “gay thing” and the “handicapped issue”. It really doesn’t matter, which because I was looking at boys long before I thought of girls (however rarely). I never acted on anything once I hit high school.

I first admitted to myself I might be gay in at fifteen or sixteen; I knew, but I also knew not to act on it. I grew up strict Catholic. In-fact, I even tried to pray the gay away. This was one of the issued that caused me to become depressed (along with low self confidence – which is another story for another time).

When I was ready to come out to everyone at the age of thirty, my brother bet me to it. He came out because he contacted HIV and he was dying. I went back in. My parents asked me if I was gay, but because of the AIDS epidemic, and HIV scare, I said, “No,” even though it was all I could do to prevent myself from hyper-ventilating on the spot. I reasoned I wasn’t acting on anything, so it wouldn’t matter. I never thought about the future. I ended up coming out at forty.

It hasn’t been easy being both “dis abled” and gay. My being “dis abled” hid a lot of questions growing up as to why I wasn’t dating, or why I did not have a girlfriend. I retrospect, I am thankful for this. I grew up in one of the projects of Toronto, and life would have been extremely difficult if people knew I was gay on top of my having a handicap.

Such is life. Things worked out for me in the long term though.
—Robert Confiant 2 April 2018

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