National Coming Out Day: Take pride in the true youEntertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
In celebration of National Coming Out Day and LGBT History Month, Travis Kelso-Turner, the executive director of Executive Pride – the LGBTQ workplace equality organization shares his highly personal and emotional story.
His story, which is below, sheds some light on why he launched the “Pride Inside” initiative to make LGBTQ workplace equality a reality for every American worker.
Travis’s parents divorced the year he was born, and his dad remarried to someone that shared the same hateful views. Travis’s stepmother knew he was gay, but it was an unspoken subject – she forced Travis to stop dancing professionally, which he loved, because in her words “only girls, or ‘fags’, are allowed to dance.” Later in Travis’s childhood, his stepmother began calling him “Travina” to tease him.
With a lack of supportive parents, Travis turned to his friends and made his friends’ family his family. “If I followed the footsteps I was led in, I would be addicted to drugs, or a milkshake attendant spittin’ on your onion rings. I took a route that I felt was right, I chose good friends, I observed their parents, listened to their advice and let them show me the way,” says Travis.
While attending a religious high school, Travis stayed closeted to maintain his popularity. But, hiding who he really was took a toll on Travis, emotionally and physically, so he decided to come out: “for three of my four years, I knew I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t ‘me’. The last semester of my senior year, I decided enough was enough and it was time to be me and come out to my friends. I lost no one in that transition, I was accepted at school and my friends loved, and supported, me 100 percent!”
The next step was telling his family, “I told my mother first – she said she already knew and that it wouldn’t affect how she loved me, or how our relationship would be.” Travis waited two more years to tell his father because he couldn’t imagine telling a man, who once said he would disown him for being gay – that he actually was. To Travis’s surprise, his dad said “he’ll always love and support me, and he was happy I told him because he also knew.” His relationship with his dad improved slightly throughout the years – until Travis got married, “I’ve spoken to my father a handful of times since my wedding and I couldn’t figure out why, until my youngest brother told me that my dad brought up me changing my last name to Turner – and how upset he was that I did that. He went on and asked my brother if I was the ‘bitch’ in my relationship.”
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