by Demi Jessett
By looking at his dark-brown eyes, small frame and dirty Nikes, you
couldn't tell what he has been through. The pain, the isolation, the sense of being
"different." Junior graphics communications major, Ray Rodriguez, is gay. Two
challenges that he feels every homosexual should face and come to terms with.
Ray grew up just like every other boy: a son, a brother, a student. Brought-
up by a Puerto Rican family with "machismo" valuesl he was taught that men
should be big, strong and able to take care of a family. During his high school
career. Ray surrounded himself with girls, but it wasn't until his junior year that
he started to realize that he looked at them differently.
Near the end of his junior year, the once popular guy in
school started to seclude himself, spending the next three
years of his life away from everyone, including his friends,
his siblings and especially his parents. After his high
school graduation, Raymond went to the University of
North Texas in Denton, where he spent his days in school
and his nights at home by himself. "All I wanted to do was
get away. I didn't want to talk or to be near anyone," said
Ray. "I had to get my thoughts together, and being by
myself was the only way I knew how."
After an unsuccessful semester at North Texas, Ray
decided to head for the East Coast, traveling for a couple of
months pondering what to do about his sexuality. He
wanted to get even further away, so he worked to make
enough money to travel to Europe, never to return home to
his family. Ray never made enough money to get to Europe
or even enough to live off of, and was forced to call his
parents in order to get home.
Ray, now back in Houston, spent another year isolating
himself, thinking among other things, about how he would tell his traditional
family that he was homosexual.
It was Christmas of 1997, when Ray finally had the opportunity to drop the
bombshell. Earlier he had decided that it would be best to tell his siblings first, in
order to practice before he had to tell his parents.
"All they could say was 'good'. They told me that they had talked about it
amongst themselves for a while, and wondered when I was going to come out," said
Ray. With the first step behind him, Ray thought he could start facing the world.
Now at UH, he started to get more involved with friends and actually go out after
classes. But it wasn't until June of 1998, that he had the nerve to tell his parents.
"My dad still won't admit that I'm gay. He sat there thinking that I was the
same guy that has always been there, and he's right. The only thing that's
different is that I'm gay. All my mom could say was 'poor baby', but she's fine
with it now," said Ray.
Ray has since then revealed himself to those whom he feels are truly his
friends. He has found happiness after years of turmoil. Years of seclusion. Years
"Why lose sleep? Being gay is nothing perverted. Coming out is merely
mental health," said Rodriguez. "When you're in, all you think about is your
sexuality. It's a secret. We try to be someone we're not. I've been a lot happier
since I've come out not only to my friends, but to myself."