A reader writes:

I second this post. I'm amazed at the success of my circle of gay friends, not because we are smarter or better looking or had better connections than anyone else, but because we all out-hustled our peers in young adulthood knowing that the rug could be pulled out from under us if we came out.

From the moment I moved out to go to college (this was the early '90s) I committed myself to building a financial buffer between me and my parents. I wanted to come out and I didn't know how they would respond.  Cutting me off was certainly a possibility.  Working two or three jobs and getting scholarships while going to class full time was hard, but I truly earned my degree.

This work ethic, one based on being independent so that I could be gay, meant I leapfrogged well beyond where a person of my class and background should have landed.  I find this is not an unusual experience for gay men of my generation.

When I was comfortable that I had "made it" several year after college I came out to my conservative parents.  They replied with surprising compassion and understanding.  But really, what choice did they have?  I'm a good and loving son and I've done a lot to make them proud.  Are they proud that I'm gay?  Probably not.  But are they ashamed of me?  Not in the least.

My advice to young gay people out there: work hard to become who you really are.  Then it won't matter what other people think.

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