Growing up in Texas, being gay was never an option for Matt.

“In college, I had a personal crisis where I was starting to realize that I was gay.” He remembered. “And in Texas? In the 70s? Deep in the Bible Belt? No, you don’t do that. You can’t be gay.”

Instead, Matt buried himself in his faith, becoming heavily involved in an evangelical church. “I saw it as my ticket out of being gay.” He admitted. “For a long time, I was involved with them, and then maybe 15 years ago I began realizing that being gay was not an action or choice; it was something that I am.”

It took Matt 35 years to come out to himself after that revelation in college, and even longer to come out to friends and family.

In 2016, Matt shared his identity with his family, starting with a long email to his three children, who supported him. In the years that followed, he found community through book clubs, dinner groups, and later through Aging with Pride. But while community came easy enough to him, it was hard to let go of the past.

“I get emotional reading queer coming-of-age fiction,” he explained, “stories about young men figuring out their identities and falling in love. I never got to have that for myself. That’s time that I can’t ever get back.”

But as bitter as those missed moments feel, seeing the LGBTQ+ community thrive brings Matt joy. “Being at The Frederick Center, being at Aging with Pride. I never want to go home. I love being here.” Since joining The Frederick Center community, Matt has also given back by volunteering at our outreach programs. Volunteering at Frederick Pride this year was incredibly emotional for him, he said, recalling the thousands of queer youths he saw in the streets. “As a father myself, seeing these kids have these opportunities I didn’t get, seeing this inclusive space we’ve built here, fills my heart with warmth.”

The Frederick Center exists so that no matter your age or when you come out in life, there is a place you can call home in Frederick. Whether you are one of our supporters, our volunteers, or our community members, thank you for helping us build a home for all LGBTQ+ folks in Frederick County.