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LGBT Community Celebrates 25th Anniversary of "Coming Out Day"

by Kelsey Schappell
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nettsu, Flickr

One man tells the story of coming out long before the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Jerry, 66, who preferred not to give his last name, says he always knew he was gay.

"I had no interest in sports, or baseball cards, or anything like that. I knew that I was different," he recalled.

Jerry grew up in the Midwest in a very religious family, and he attended religious schools. He came out when he was only 11 years old. He says it was hard to fit in, but social changes in the early 1960s helped him realize he wasn't alone.

"I was just better, in my own way ... I felt empowered," he said.

But Jerry's family wasn't so accepting. One family member even wrote him a letter telling him to end his life. After that, he only kept in touch with his mother.

"We had a very good relationship. Mother is a boy's best friend. And the other people that I had lost, I didn't really feel I had lost anything," he said. 

Jerry moved to New York City in the early 1970s. He says that was where everyone was going.

"Gay experiences were beginning to be more visible in places like New York City. It was a great time to be here."

Now retired, he's a member of SAGE, a service organization for LGBT elders. He's looking forward to the weekend.

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