in life

Ninja Turtles. Mom(s). Catholicism. Equality.

At age six, my parents got divorced. At the time, I was far too young to understand the impact and enormity of what happened. That my world around me was being turned upside down. That I would experience first-hand what it’s like for two people to love each other, fall out of love, and then hate one another. That I would be pulled, for the next twenty years, in dramatically different directions. That my beliefs would be combated, my will would be tested, and my relationships challenged.

You see, when you’re six years old, you don’t think about things like this. You think about which Ninja Turtle is the best (Leonardo), not which parent you want to live with. You ask questions like “Where in the world IS Carmen Sandiego?” not “Why is mom sleeping with another woman?”. You think about things like POGS, Tamagotchis, and Saturday night SNICK, rather than spending your time questioning your Catholic upbringing and your relationship with God.

But I didn’t have the textbook childhood upbringing. Of course, I had quite a collection of POGS. Yes, I was first in line for the latest Beanie Baby, and without question, I had literally every single Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure you could think of – but underneath it all, I was thrust into an environment that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in, one that, for a while, I absolutely hated, but one that, ultimately, today, I couldn’t be more grateful for.

Between learning that I was adopted, accepting that my mom was gay, dealing with a Dad who hated my mom’s lifestyle, resented her, and thought the environment was downright dangerous (because apparently simply being around gay people automatically makes gay, right?), going to a church that preached that homosexuality was an abomination, only to have that spawn of Satan pick me up right after and take me Cracker Barrel for a Country Boy Breakfast, you could say that growing up was very “interesting” for me.

I spent years telling friends, girlfriends, even my (now) wife when we first met, that my mom’s partner was my aunt (though I think their jean shorts, Big Dog t-shirts, and short haircuts quickly gave away that something was up)  – Not out of shame and embarrassment, not because I had a problem with it, but because I was worried what other people would think. I was worried that people wouldn’t look past my mom’s lifestyle. I was worried about not having any friends. I was worried about not getting laid. I was worried I’d never be given a chance. 

By the time I was nearly 18, I had a huge falling out with my Dad. I finally stood up and told him that the teachings we listened to and recited on Sunday mornings were a contradiction to everything I believed in. That preaching inequality only led to discrimination, stupidity, and hatred. 

Today, I’m much more open about my upbringing and my experiences. I joke about having “2 mommies”, even though growing up, my mom and Sandra weren’t allowed to sleep in the same bed, as ordered by the court.

I accept that my dad’s dragged-out courtroom attempts to take me away from my mom and give me a “safer”, (more sheltered), religious, private-school upbringing were based on the fact that he did, indeed, want what was best for me, even if his approach was wrong.

Through everything that happened, the most important thing, by far, is that my Mom, my other Mom, my Dad, the church, the kids who made fun of me, the wife who accepted everything, the challenges, the fears overcome, the stances took against strong beliefs, it’s all shaped me into who I am today.

Not to mention, it makes for some pretty interesting Happy Hour stories…

Today, I am someone who believes that there is no other way than a way in which all things are equal.

The argument that gay marriage should not be allowed. The argument that two men living under one roof cannot receive the same benefits as a man and a woman. The idea that being gay is “wrong”. There’s no subjective, factual backing to any of these claims.

And maybe I’m entirely objective in saying that anyone who believes things should not be equal is ignorant, but yeah, I just said it. It’s time to check yourself.

For those who disagree with me. For those who believe being gay is a choice, and that it’s the wrong choice: I strongly encourage you to call up a gay friend and ask them to grab coffee. Send me an email and ask me whatever questions you have. Have a conversation with someone who has experienced growing up with gay people, or is in fact, gay themselves. It might seem awkward at first, but the first step to acceptance is understanding. So find a way to understand. Then see if you walk out of the conversation with the same stance as the one you walked in with.

It seems almost silly to be writing something like this in 2011 (almost 2012), but equality is far from achieved. There’s still a need for videos (like the one below) to share that message of equality. There’s still a need for people like me (and you) to speak up and inspire others to think (and act) differently.

I leave you to think about this: What, in history, was made better by discrimination? When did segregation work? When was bigotry applauded by the masses?

It’s not about changing your religious beliefs. It’s not about taking a different political stance. It’s about believing, whole-heartedly, that all men (and women) are created equal.

If you have a story you’d like to share, I strongly encourage you to do so in the comments below.

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

Add Your Voice



  1. I’m so glad you wrote this! The post you wrote a few years back on marriage equality where you shared your mom’s sexual preference was the beginning of me reading and following your work and progress. I agree wholeheartedly, it is time. And I appreciate you being transparent and sharing your experience. THANK YOU!

  2. This is something that annoys me, in that I sadly know many people who are completely against this idea and refuse to even listen. Unrelated, but dealing with autism every day is enough for me to see that something different is not wrong. It’s just different. That’s my stance on homosexuality: it’s not wrong. It’s just different. Many people I know think gay people “choose” to love someone from the same gender…I mean, judging by the amount of persecution/lack of acceptance homosexuals face in many parts of the world, why on earth would ANYONE choose to put themselves in that situation? Then I hear people say, if we accept this then we’re not true followers of whatever faith they believe in… things like this. There’s a lot to deal with and sadly equality isn’t anywhere close.

    • Agreed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it would be pretty lame if everyone was the same. It’s up to you and I (and everyone else reading) to do our little part in enlightening others into an “equality” way of thinking. Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective!

      • Yup – don’t know where I read the following, but I did many years ago and it’s stuck with me since: If everyone in the world was the same, it would be a pretty boring place to live in.
        All hail diversity!

  3. This is really great, Matt. I usually try to say that I’ll respect someone’s political views if they can argue them well and actually back them up, but I’ve recently come to the realization myself that there are certain beliefs I hold where I 100% think the opposing view is WRONG. Gay marriage is one of those instances, and you’re right – it’s completely ridiculous that it’s 2011 and this is still being discussed.

    • There’s a difference between stance and belief, and outright ignorance. We may worship different gods and vote for different Presidents, but treating another human being as a lesser of yourself because of who they choose to go to bed with, and denying them equal rights, is outright wrong. There’s no stance or belief that could convince me that my mom is going to hell and deserves to be treated worse than me because of her choice in relationship

      So I agree with you 100%. We’re a long, long way off from it being a mainstream belief. Imagine watching the video above if the couple were a man and a woman – no big deal, right? It probably wouldn’t get millions of Youtube hits. I wonder when (or if we’ll ever) be able to say the same about an ad featuring a gay couple…

      Thanks for coming by, Jenn. It’s good to see you around here…

  4. I give this a big, “Amen!” 

    On a very close-to-home, personal level – Thanks for sharing this, for many reasons.
    So that I don’t get super-emotional while I’m at my desk at work… I’ll lighten the mood and throw-in a quote from Lady Gaga, “Baby, we were born this way.” :)

  5. Fantastic post! And very, very well said. Your words are inspiration for the book I’m writing about my personal experiences – I placed a child for adoption when I was 18. I’m now 41 with two young children and I have had a wonderful relationship with my son through an amazing open adoption. But the residual effects of being raised in a very judgmental (closet Catholic), guilt-infused environment, strained my personal and social development. And it wreaked havoc on my ability to have any kind of normal marriage with my (very forgiving and very understanding) husband. Wonderful post :)

  6. Thank you so much for writing this! It is very meaningful to me and what I am experiencing in my life right now. Thank you for giving me hope that one day my children may look back on this time in our lives with some perspective.

  7. Thank you Matt. I love: ‘It’s not about changing your religious beliefs. It’s not about taking a different political stance.It’s about believing, whole-heartedly, that all men (and women) are created equal.’

  8. I love your statement acknowledging that the good and “bad” made you who you are…I’m such a believer in the experiences that shape us, and this was a great reminder to me that much of my familial pain wasn’t without purpose.

    • The good and bad, lefts and rights, ups and downs, it all comes together to define who you are today and who you’ll become. It wasn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for where I’ve been. Thanks for reading, Sabrina!

  9. As the mother of a teenager that came out to md earlier this year, I read this with tears in my eyes. I’ve been supportive of gay rights all of my life; but, it wasn’t until a child of my own acknowledged sexual preference that I had to put my money where my mouth is.

    I have not been very public about this, for a couple reasons…most importantly, like you, I worry about what people will think about, say or do to my child. All I want is for my child to be happy, to be absolutely treasured and loved with as much as my child gives. I also feel that it’s actually no one’s business and it’s not my place to out my child without permission.

    I saw this video the other day, and reposted on Facebook & Twitter. It is exactly what I hope for my child.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story, for reading, and for sharing this with others, Brandee. All you need to do is continue to love and support your daughter unconditionally, which I have no doubt you do. She sounds like she’s in good hands. :) 

  10. Amazing story.  Thank you so much for sharing.  I was also raised in a household with very “conservative” views, got married and was living the life I was “supposed” to be living.  Until I finally had the courage to come out and be the real me… who also happens to be gay.  Best decision I ever made.

    It’s not without struggles.  My parents, immediate family and everyone I considered friends at the time STILL refuse to talk with me, almost 5 years later.  But I recognize they are doing what they feel right, even if I don’t think it is.  We all have our own journey.  

    You are very courageous to write this.  I thank you for helping everyone see that we’re all people – human – the same.  I also shared my story publicly last February here: although it was an 8-part series.  A fascinating look at a “successful” Jehovah’s Witness leaving a marriage and the religion because he is gay.

    • Thank you for reading, Steve – and for sharing your story. I’m looking forward to reading your full story. It’s folks like you and I, gay or straight, sharing our experiences, that will hopefully enlighten and inspire others to be more accepting and welcoming of everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or sexual preference. Cheers!

    • Thank YOU for reading, Shannon. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m confident that folks like us (and everyone else who read, commented on, and shared this) can make a big difference in the way people think and act. 

  11. Hi Matt,
    You had a challenging childhood and the games you mention put you at the age of my kids! You survived and beautifully so. Witness this beautiful blog that I’ve heard about and was invited to today by a friend. Witness that amazing video and it’s story told so simply. Inequality seems like such a stupid idea, doesn’t it? Who came up with it. You’re right. It’s time.

  12. This is a great post.  I wish EVERYONE would read it and see the logic behind it.  I have close family members – sadly – who WILL never accept and agree with this line of thinking and we have gotten into some pretty heated arguments about just this.  The best I can do is share this message with everyone I know and teach my children to be open-minded, accepting, loving adults.  I’m happy to say that with a 17 year old daughter and 13 and 10 year old sons, I feel pretty good about the job hubby and I have done so far.  Keep puttin’ it out there, man.

    • Thanks, Sharon! I know what it’s like to have people very close to you who will never side with this perspective (my own father is a perfect example). But it’s up to folks like you and I to share this message and hopefully do our part, be it big or small, to enlighten and inspire others to open their minds to new ideas and ultimately, acceptance for all.