In honor of pride month, we are pleased to share a guest column written by Jordan Alvillar, ADL Mountain States Associate Director of Development.
I was most nervous to “come out” to my parents.
I had made the decision to tell them face-to-face by taking them out to dinner. I spoke with my brother right before I was headed to meet them. “They think you’re going to speak to them about going to graduate school,” he said. They clearly had no idea about what kind of talk we would be having.
To be clear, growing up my parents had always expressed acceptance toward the LGBTQIA+ community—they had given me no reason to believe that they may not accept that I am gay. All the same, I am attempting to shed light on the fact that regardless of who you are, where you are in your life or how comfortable you are with someone, coming out can still be an incredibly daunting experience. It’s been over eight years since I came out, and my heart still manages to skip a beat when I share with someone for the first time that I am gay, because it’s incredibly personal. Sure, it may get easier as time goes on, but I never find myself fully out of the woods in terms of anxiety I can feel when meeting a new person.
While at dinner, it didn’t take long for my parents to want to push through the small talk as quickly as possible. They were ready to get to whatever it was that we were there to talk about—which they noted, “sounds serious.” I mean, it was, so I couldn’t reassure them that it wasn’t.
“I know what I’m about to tell you may be surprising, even shocking,” I began. “I’m not really sure how else to begin, but as my parents, I wanted to tell you that I’m gay. I guess part of me always knew that I was—but it took many years of self-discovery to realize that this is who I am, and I can no longer deny it. That’s what I wanted to tell you. I hope this doesn’t change anything between us and I really hope you don’t look at me differently.”
And just like that, it was done. I felt as though I had just managed to summit Mt. Everest—and also felt as though I could melt into a puddle on the floor all at the same time. I looked at both of them—I still remember to this day, looking at my dad and watching him nodding and smiling.
My dad then said what remains the most important thing that anyone has ever said to me: “Jordan, as your parents, there are many, many things that you could do that would cause us great concern. This isn’t one of them. And it will never be one of them.” Receiving the love and validation from my parents in that moment—and the continued support they have shown to me and my wife, Jill, is more than I could ever ask for.
The only unfortunate part about this story is that it’s not the experience of many in the LGBTQIA+ community. I have close friends whose families will never accept them, based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Even in 2021, in the United States and around the globe, people have lost their lives or are fighting every day to be who they are and love who they love. I’ll admit, it keeps me up at night. This just isn’t how it should be—and I can only hope that someday, our community will no longer have to carry this burden and continue our fight for true equality. I hope you’ll join me in working to make that dream possible.
Until that day arrives, I’m grateful to be an employee of the Anti-Defamation League—an organization that not only celebrates my identity, but also works tirelessly to combat hatred and bigotry in all of its forms and advocate for marginalized communities in various ways. I’m also indebted to the historic LGBTQIA+ figures and activists, like Marsha P. Johnson, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Rivera, Harvey Milk and countless others who have brought the movement to where it is today—Pride Month wouldn’t exist how it does without their sacrifices and courage.
Pride is more than a day or a month—it’s a lifelong dream of what the world could be like if love were really the most important thing of all.