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    Coming Out Stories: ‘You’re Gay Too!’

    By Lamont Bransfords-Young (aka DJ Lamont)–

    I was an extremely introverted teenager. In public environments I would just stand and look at the world as though I were watching a movie in the theatre. I was a passive participant; I didn’t say a word. It’s not that I had nothing to say, I just did not know how to express myself.

    At 16, my first after-school job was as a dishwasher at The Red Bull Inn, a restaurant in my hometown in Waterbury, Connecticut. I was hired by a handsome 30-something-year-old head cook named Kevin. I would always keep an eye on him.

    I worked 3 to 4 days a week, generally 5 to 6 hours per shift, or until the last dish was washed. Every night that I worked, I would perform my duties in a natural state of silence amongst the constant parade of eccentric, funny, witty, and loud middle-aged co-workings. I found them all entertaining.

    On my third or fourth shift, an 18-year-old busboy came to my station with a container of dirty dishes and said, “Hi, my name is Michael.” I did not utter one word. I just looked, smiled, and unloaded the dishes. There was a flair about him that I became fond of. He was funny and made sarcastic comments about the work environment. Each shift that we worked together he would drop down the bin of dirty dishes and say hi to me. I uttered nothing, smiled, unloaded the dishes. and just looked at the high pace, rhythmic dance of the front and back of the house co-existing.

    As I was becoming more comfortable, I finally broke my spell of silence and I responded to his greetings. He was shocked when he heard my voice. He didn’t believe I could talk. I asked him if he had heard that new song “Physical Attraction” by Madonna. He said, “Who?” I then asked if he had heard “You’re the One for Me” by D-Train, “Beat The Street” by Sharon Redd, or “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa.

    I overwhelmed him. He was enthusiastically interested in my musical name dropping, but he did not have a clue. Michael asked, “Where do you hear this music?” I said, “At The Club.”

    The Club was Waterbury’s oldest gay bar & nightclub. I was under age and still in high school, and my friends and I would go every Friday and Saturday night.

    I invited Michael and we all danced the night away. Michael and I become best buds. For two consecutive years, my friends from high school along with Michael and me sought out every gay club in the major cities of Connecticut: Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.

    I would just dance, most of the time by myself. Michael would disappear for a period of time only to reappear dancing next to me with a smile on his face. Outside of the music we said very little about the experience of the night. We never spoke of your sexual interest or orientation. We would both underplay what we saw and what we wanted.

    After one night of clubbing, I was dropping Micheal off at his house in Naugatuck and we sat in the car for a few hours talking. We spoke about the music, the clubs, and the adventures traveling around the state seeking good times. We shared our wants and dreams. All of a sudden, awkwardness was replaced by words and there was complete silence. The results of my introverted character became dominant. Then finally I said to Michael, “I have something to tell you. I’m gay.” He replied, “You’re gay?” Silence resumed for eternity it seemed. He then asked, “You’re gay too?!” I replied, “What do you mean too?” He said, “I’m gay too!”

    Michael and I are still best buds.

    ‘You Didn’t Have to Yell’

    One August Saturday, my one and only older brother Troy and I were entangled in a battle of wills. That afternoon, he took my 1984 power blue Dodge Omni without my permission. He returned my vehicle on an empty tank. I cursed him. He swung and chased me down the middle of the street wagging a big stick cursing back at me. I was screaming, “Mommie, mommie, help!” until she appeared on the front porch and pulled rank, ordering us to stop the nonsense, quiet down, and come into the house.

    The three of us ended up in the kitchen. We were all fussing at each other. I was heated; steam was blowing from my ears. My heart rate was up from the chase. My face was covered in sweat, and my clothes were stuck to me.

    I was all fired up telling my mother how tired I was of Troy taking my things from me without my permission. Troy just hissed and sassed me, making fun of the whole situation, as though it meant nothing. He called me a big sissy. My mom would shout back, “Leave your brother’s stuff alone and stop calling him names.” He swung at me one last time and called me a sissy again as he stormed out of the kitchen. My mother again said, “Would you two stop it? Stop calling your brother names..”

    I was sitting across from her as she sat stoically at the kitchen table with a drink in one hand and a smokin’ cigarette in the other. “What’s wrong with you?” my mother said. “Why do you let him get to you?” I replied, “He is always taking my stuff, that’s why.” “I know,” she said, “but your outbursts are getting out of hand. You never talk to me. You come and go in secret. What’s going on with you? All of this can’t just be about your things.”

    The more she inquired, the more frustrated I became. Finally, I said, “I’ll tell you what is going on. I’M GAY! Did you hear me, I’M GAY! That’s what’s going on with me. I’M GAY!”

    My mom took a puff and blew the smoke throughout the kitchen, followed by a swig of her afternoon cocktail. Shen then said, “I know. We all know. Everybody in the family knows. We have been waiting for you. We did not want to pressure you. We talk about you all the time wondering if you would ever come out to us. You didn’t have to shout at me that you’re gay.”

    I was stunned. My mom outed me. I lost my ability to speak for a few moments. I started sobbing like a little boy whose toy was taken from him. A river of tears welled up and rolled down my face. I felt like a million years of stress and a million tons of weight were released from my body. For the first time in my teenage life, I felt free. I’m gay.

    SF Pride

    My friend Tiea and I hopped from community stage to community stage at SF Pride 2001. The sky was crystal blue and the sun was beaming down on all the revelers at the festival. We made our way through thousands of people—stepping on toes, bumping shoulders, enjoying unlimited cruising and eye to eye contact with a plethora of men of every color, shape, and size.

    I was feeling lucky. It was Pride, and everyone was there for a good time. It was the last hour of the festival and our final destination was the Fag Friday Stage on Groove Street, between Polk and Van Ness. The party was jumping, the Disco and House Music was pumping. Boys were on top of boys dancing to the beat of the music. I was thrilled and thought to myself, “I am a gay man at SF Pride.”

    The day was slowly coming to an end. My eyes locked with a handsome man with a head full of dreadlocks. He smiled. I looked to my left and right. We locked eyes again. His smile grew bigger. There were hundreds of people passing around me. I had doubt that he was focusing on me because of the state of pandemonium.

    Then our eyes locked again. He worked his way through the crowd and approached me: “Hey, I am Gabriel.” We chatted a bit over the loud music and danced body to body until the festival was officially closed. We jumped on a BART train, got off in the Mission, and feasted on a fat burrito. We walked around until the sun set and the fog blew in. I invited him to my home. We sat, I put a record on, and drank a beer. “Ah,” said Gabriel, who stammered, “I, I, I, I hope I didn’t give you the wrong impression. But, I’m not gay.”

    The Whole Family Waved Goodbye

    “I’m moving to San Francisco someday” was one of the last hopes and dreams that I shared with my mother on Tuesday, January 10, 1995, while she was sitting at the medical center receiving chemotherapy. My mom, Jacqueline A. Young, passed away February 2, 1995.

    The day after Labor Day 1996, I packed up a moving truck. Along with my guts, vision, sense of adventure, and my ambition, I traveled from east to west with 2 turntables, 75 boxes of records, 300 cassette tapes, a reel to reel player, and furnishings. Destination: a new life for me. Some of my oldest friends said to me, “You’re going to San Francisco to be gay.” In my reponse to them, I said that I had been gay all my life in Waterbury.

    After my last personal effect was packed in, the rolling door locked in place, and the millionth tear came rushing down my face; the time had come to leave the nest. I left everything that I knew to embrace the unforeseen of my journey. Friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances gathered to celebrate and send me off to San Francisco. To this day, my farewell to California was the largest and only “coming out party” that was hosted in my honor.

    DJ Lamont Bransford-Young for decades has been one of our community’s best loved, and busiest, spinners. DJ Lamont has played at a multitude of community events including SF Pride, Sunday Streets, Mission Community Market, and SF Juneteenth. He shares his love of spinning via Fingersnaps Media Arts, which is both an educational and artistic space. For more information:

    Published on February 11, 2021