I came out to my 5th grade class when I was nine years old, and even had a coming out party. Sometimes it feels like I've been out forever.
But my father's side of the family doesn't know I'm gay. Sometimes, they ask me about "girlfriends" I've brought along on family camping trips. I just laugh and say "Those girls weren't my girlfriends," conveniently leaving out the fact that I'm not attracted to girls.
It wasn't that I trusted a group of fifth graders more than half my family, I just cared less how they reacted. If my classmates decided they didn't like me because I was gay, I could always switch schools. But if my father's family didn't accept me, I wasn't sure what I would do. I told my dad I was gay, but never felt comfortable telling his family. They aren't homophobic but they're old-fashioned. Being gay just isn't something you talk about.
Recently, I wrote an editorial about the "It Gets Better Videos" and my experience growing up gay in the Bay Area. I never planned on coming out to my father's family, but the editorial, which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, ended up doing it for me. I hadn't seen my father's family since the article was published and I was dreading Thanksgiving with them.
Pulling up to the house in my dad's car I already had a speech written out in my head, something beginning with, "You think you can judge me?" I had even gone as far as to think through my dramatic exit if things didn't go well.