After college and in a serious relationship, Kevin Bentley made a promise to himself and to God: if his parents ever asked him directly, he would tell him he was gay. Sure enough, when his Mom called him one day to share the news that Andersoon Cooper had come out, the conversation quickly turned to Kevin’s sexuality. Keeping his promise, he told his mom that not only was he gay, but he was seeing someone.
Eight years later, Kevin was faced with a similar situation with his father, who was inquiring why he was moving to a different neighborhood and not bringing his roommate along with him. Seizing yet another opportunity to live truthfully, Kevin told his father – to a warm and loving reception – that he was moving in with his boyfriend.
These two experiences stayed with Kevin and resurfaced one evening when he was watching the new popular queer series, ‘Heartstopper.” Seeing the open and honest relationship between the characters and their parents, Kevin realized that, looking back, he should’ve been living for himself all along, rather than living up to what he thought his family wanted.
Transcript provided by YouTube:
My name is Kevin Bentley, and I’m from Baltimore, Maryland.
When I was 17, my brother came out as bisexual. He put it out there and was just, “This is it. No
room for discussion.” And my mom, both my parents, but mainly my mom, were just okay with it.
And fast forward; I’m in college at Swarthmore. I know that I like guys, but I mainly just
stick to dating women or not dating anyone at all. I realized also that I wasn’t completely
ready to come out to my mom because I think that I didn’t want to disappoint her
or appease – I wanted to appease her, or I didn’t want it to be another difficult conversation.
Then when I graduate, I’ve been in some serious relationships. And at this point
in my life, I was in a serious relationship. And I made a promise to myself and to God
that if my parents ever asked me outright, I wouldn’t lie and I wouldn’t hide.
At this point, I’m living in Philly. My mom calls me. I’m outside of the Barnes & Noble
in Rittenhouse Square, which is the main square in Philadelphia.
And she calls me, and she says, “Have you heard?”
And I’m, “What?”
And she’s, “Anderson Cooper just came out as gay.”
And I say, “Oh, mommy. Everyone already knows. That’s an open secret.”
And at that point, she pauses.
And then she ask, “Well,
are you gay?” I had said that I would always tell her if she had asked outright.
First, I said, “I don’t think we should talk about this over the phone.
Maybe we should talk about it at a later time.”
And then she asks again, same question, “Are you gay?”
And I say, “Yes, I am.”
Then she asks, “Well, are you dating anyone?”
And I said, “Yes, I am.” And I told her
his name. I cut the conversation short because I was uncomfortable.
It took a lot of processing in a way. And not in such a immediately
what you would think a negative way. I think that she cared a lot about
protecting me, protecting me as a Black man. The world was already hard enough, so
why be gay or queer or anything else? But over time, she loved and accepted me for me.
My relationship with my father was
one that was filled with anger and resentment to him because he came
in and out of our lives. There was no need for me to tell him that I was out. No urgency whatsoever.
So, fast forward to 2021, 8 years later after I came out to my mom. I’m talking to my dad. And at
this time, I have moved to Harlem. I’m living with now my partner, we’re just catching up.
And he asks me, “Oh, I heard you moved from Brooklyn to Harlem.”
And I say, “Yes.” And I lived with another family friend for four years.
And so he asks, “Oh, are you and Daniel still living together? Why did y’all move to Harlem?”
And I say, “No. Actually, we’re no longer living together. I moved in with my boyfriend.”
And he was, “Oh, I always knew.” He just really said, “I wanted for you to wait to tell me”
and that he loved me. And he asked about Kurt, my boyfriend.
But it was so different than my mom where you feel like it would be the opposite because I’m
obviously super close with my mom. And with my dad, it’s always stop and go, that he was the one
that basically was, “I love you no matter what. I always knew.” And he was happy for me. My mom
was definitely happy for me, but I think she just was obviously concerned for me.
Fast forward to Netflix’s groundbreaking phenomenon, The Heartstopper, that I’m sure
at this point, everyone is talking about. I watch Heartstopper for the first time,
and I truly love it because it’s seeing young people fall in love and wishing something that
I had. The main character, Charlie, has a great relationship with his dad
where he’s always protecting him and looking out for him. Watching Heartstopper, I cried.
Not cried throughout the entire time, but there are just very poignant moments
between the two main characters and their parents. I wish that I had just been brave enough to
come out to my parents and not project or think about how they were going to react,
in a way, to me. I wish I had just jumped all the way in when I knew and had it and for us to
maybe even work it out together. Because maybe my parents would’ve surprised me.
I think the benefits of living authentically is that I’m able to be
me and to get to know me better. And I think that that has led for me to be in
healthy relationships with everyone; with romantic partners, with friends, with family, with myself.
This post was previously published on YouTube.
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