“I was 21 when I first fell in love with a guy.
In hindsight, I had always sensed it since I was about 13 years old. I felt that something was different, I felt different. And now I knew.
I worked in a hotel in Flensburg at the reception. After work one day, one of my colleagues took me for a drink. He took me to a gay bar, which in my naivety I didn’t really realize.
At some point in the evening, I turned around and there he was. We looked each other in the eyes, and I guess this is what you call love at first sight. I felt it in my entire body. And I finally and instantly knew, that I am gay. I had dated girls before and always thought I was in love, but now it felt so much different, that I just knew who I was.
The relationship actually didn’t last very long, but for me it was the end of a long journey of searching for my identity. It felt as if this ton of weight came off and I was so much lighter.
My doubts were gone. It just felt right, as if I had finally found myself.
And yet, it felt wrong. Not because I believed it was wrong… but the thought of what others might think or say frightened me. Would they approve?
Despite my fear, I knew I had to call my mom. My mom and I had always had a special bond and calling her was the very first thing I did.
I knew deep down inside what she would say and how she would react, but I was incredibly excited, heart pounding, shaking. The minute she picked up the phone, I started crying. She must have thought that something bad had happened, like an accident.
Full of tears, I told her… I was crying so loud that she didn’t understand a word of what I was saying to her and when I finally calmed down and told her, she replied, ‘So what? You are my son and nothing is going to change.’
Again, it felt like a ton of weight came down from my shoulders. It gave me relief, but even more so, she re-affirmed the sense of security and safety, which I always felt around her. I always knew, whatever happens in life, I can always turn to her, go back to her, and somehow it would all be fine.
I wish I could thank her and let her know how much these words meant to me.
I am 43 now and my mom recently passed away.
It was a Friday night, a cold winter night in December, which would turn into the coldest night I ever experienced. We were in a good place, my mom, my dad, my brothers, all of us looking forward to the Christmas holidays coming up, the time we would spend together, as we would every year.
Christmas in Frankfurt had become a family tradition and I needed to get the best tree and had tons of groceries to do. I literally just laid down when my brother called.
He asked me if I was alone (which I was, as my partner was at a dinner party with friends). And then he said it:
‘Mom passed away.’
It felt like time stopped and all around me had become silent. I felt numb and instantly started throwing up.
The next day, I drove home and the first thing I saw when coming home was the pile of Christmas presents. She had wrapped them all on Friday night and when she was finished she sat down and never got up again. It was a heart attack.
We thought we’d have more time together, and then out of nowhere, from one minute to the next, we ran out of time.
All that I am left with are the memories, such as that one phone call to my mom, 22 years ago, telling her that I am gay and her words I’ll never forget.
It was these words that gave me so much strength, to live my life the way I do, be the person I am, and be proud of it. I wish I could let her know how much her words shaped who I am today, how much she shaped me.
I cannot thank her anymore… and it’s painful to come to terms with the fact that she is no longer with me.
But I can tell my story, and her story; paying it forward, her message of compassion. Her way of showing me that kindness does not cost a thing and that love actually can be unconditional.
It’s because of her that I didn’t struggle with my identity, as many others do. Today I live a fulfilled life full of people dear to me and have a job, which I love, as hotel manager leading a team of almost 150. I am working at a great place where I can be myself.
But when I look around me, ‘so what?’ is not the common answer that women and men around the world get when they finally find the courage to tell their loved ones, the ones closest to them.
Here we are, 2019, and so many still live in fear, for what will happen when they tell, for what will happen when someone finds out who they are… who they love…
We might have come far, but it’s by far not enough.
For me, tolerance is simply not enough.
We shouldn’t say, ‘That’s okay with me, I am fine with that.’ It should just be, ‘So what?’ without even asking the question.
I feel my story might be able to contribute to one mother, or father, or brother, or sister reacting differently… as only today I really understand how much it really meant to me and how much it paved the way for me.
To love someone should not need an approval. Many underestimate the fear (young) women and men have to come out to their loved ones and they underestimate the power their reaction will have, the impact they will have… by saying, ‘So what? I love you as you are.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Marc Snijders. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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