May 06, 2011


Joel, age 7
Houston, TX (1977)

This photo was shot in Galveston, Texas where I still often retreat for all the good memories of being at the beach. My cousins, my brother, sister, and I all grew up kind of like siblings. We all got attention in our own way.

I loved watching the "Super Friends" and Godzilla movies on Saturday mornings.
I was not too precocious, but I was different.

I was often the gentler boy, and I knew I was gay in junior high school. But I was a husky, so no one really messed with me or picked on me, except my own brother. While I could have done without his bullying, in some ways, it made me a fighter.

My story is not as horrifying as what could have been, but my Southern Baptist faith and fear of God kept me in the closet until I was 34. Thankfully, my mom and dad were supportive when I came out. And my pivotal moment was a collision of faith and identity, as the Bible says "The truth shall set you free."

So I held on to that promise. I thought it was worse lying about myself, than facing the truth about how I love.

So my message to the LGBTQ youth of today is: Stay true to yourself.
The only ones you are accountable to are yourself, and your God.

Joel's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Ricky Schroeder (in "Silver Spoons")
Silver Spoons - The Complete First SeasonAlways My Child: A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or DaughterThe Heart of Texas


Anonymous said...

My real-life in my youth had been a nightmare too...

I will tells you all because my pervert uncle who had manipulated me at 9yo untill 11yo is die now in car accident...

Jeremy 21yo

Divster said...

Beautifully stated. The truth DOES always set us free, though the road may be full of detours and delays...

Joel Bangilan said...

As I re-read this it sounded like I was literally kept in a closet. My mom and dad were very loving and supportive. I just didn't publically admit that I am gay until later in life. I did a lot of church things. The church is a very special place for me.