The engagement photo the author (right) and his fiance snapped. (Photo: Photo Courtesy of Steven Romo)
The engagement photo the author (right) and his fiance snapped. (Photo: Photo Courtesy of Steven Romo)

The author and his fiancée took a photo. The photo was taken by Steven Romo.

I like to keep my private life private.

After I proposed to my boyfriend, we posted about it on social media. It spread online before I knew it, showing up on gay media sites and even mainstream newspapers.

I don't know why it took off. I worked at competing TV stations in Houston. Neither of us were out in public before. It made me laugh to see the selfies I took of us grinning and holding up our hands at the top of several articles.

When I was vocal about being gay, I thought it was unimportant to anyone else. I know how wrong I was.

My journey to being intensely private has taken a long time. I was very good at concealing. When Girl Scouts or magazine sales people came to the door, my family kept the way we lived from everyone.

We didn't want anyone to see the roaches on our walls. Our chihuahuas used the carpet instead of going outside, leaving behind piles of dog waste. We silently agreed not to let anyone else know.

Even my family didn't know I had another secret. I was trying to not be gay. It was like second nature for me to keep everything inside.

There didn’t seem to be any evidence that the world would ever have room for people like me. I’d have to always hide who I was to fit in, I thought, if there was any hope of a happy future.

We went to a church when I was young. Social connections and exposure to families were helpful to us. The church taught me that gayness was against God's plan and that it was shameful. I was not born this way. That was not news to me.

After dropping out of school in the eighth grade, I focused on my career and not on what people thought of me. I was able to break into TV news. I became an anchor in Houston, one of the biggest cities in the country, after working my way up through stations.

I figured love wasn't in the cards. The idea of a happy couple in my family was not likely to come to fruition. Is there a happy, out gay couple? It wasn't even a possibility.

In my last HuffPost personal essay, I talked about how being open about my upbringing helped me and how stories saved me. When I was a kid, I would throw away the junk food containers and other trash in my living room to watch Saved By the Bell.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of my favorites. I used to sit in a lawn chair in the living room and use a beige keyboard. As I watched adventures on the dusty screen, I pretended to be on my own germ-free ship, separated from the squalor around me.

I was excited about the future. Despite my best efforts not to be gay, I was disappointed to never see that aspect of myself reflected back.

It was the same for all the shows I watched and the books I checked out from the library. I wanted them to say "gay" in a positive way. There was no evidence that the world would ever have room for people like me. If there was any hope of a happy future, I would have to hide who I was.

I didn't think that way as an adult. I decided society had progressed so much that it no longer mattered if I spoke about who I was. Most of my co-workers in Houston knew as well. I wondered if one more overt coming out post or rainbow flag would make a difference. Is it possible to live my life without a big declaration?

Something happened that changed everything.

I’d gone so long keeping my upbringing a secret, I was surprised to hear myself telling it all to this masked, socially distanced stranger.

He was a reporter at a different Houston TV station. We met while on assignment. A Republican candidate for Congress hosted a campaign watch party at a Mexican restaurant, and though she clearly lost, she wouldn't concede the race. The event should have lasted an hour, but it only lasted an hour and a half.

The meeting resulted in many direct message conversations. After he became a weatherman, I asked him out for coffee. It was in the middle of the Pandemic and we found a place that was still open.

I had kept my upbringing a secret for so long that I was surprised to hear myself tell it to this stranger. Tell him I did. The roaches are dropping out. A family member was in prison for abusing children. I never got to reconcile with my mom who died at 43.

He looked at me with interest, but not pity. He had grown up in a religious family. They are even more steadfast in their beliefs. He told me that his coming out made his parents question their faith. They have found one that is open and affirming to people of the same sexual orientation.

They changed their beliefs because they loved him so much. He spoke about how special that family was and it was clear he knew how special it was.

I loved him within the first few weeks. I was surprised that I had the capacity. I decided I didn't need love like that and maybe I wasn't capable of it. I would be gay and have a partner. But love in a public place? It didn't feel like it was made for me.

Within a few months, he got a job that would take him to New York City.

I knew the New York opportunity was one I couldn't let him pass up. When my mom died, she didn't leave me much. There aren't any knick knacks or treasures. The knowledge that life is short has helped guide me ever since.

I walked into my boss's office with a smile on my face and told him I was quitting. There were very few jobs in New York. It was not a guarantee that I would get gainful employment again. I took the leap because I knew how much Stephen meant to me.

I bought two rings for each of us. We went to New York to find an apartment and decided to walk down Sixth Avenue. The streets were wet even though it wasn't raining. I pulled the rings out of my shorts and asked him if he would marry me. He said yes. We were teary-eyed. We took a selfies.

We told our families via video chat before heading back to Houston. We wore our engagement rings on air as we finished our newscasts in Texas. We were eager to let people know about the engagement, but we didn't post about it.

Our relationship was precious. It had been an escape from public scrutiny and snark. I told a good friend at work that I was going to propose. She said, "Don't worry" after she finished her celebrations. I will not say a word to anyone.

It hit me how much I wanted to be open. I was proud, but the idea that anyone would think I wanted this to be a secret was too much. I was ready for any criticism that may follow. We were in love. Nothing else mattered, not what anyone thought or said.

Stephen said he felt the same way when I told him about the exchange. On the same day, we wrote posts about the engagement and hit send. Some people told us we were going to hell. Some criticisms were hostile. The hate was quickly drowned out by messages of kindness and support.

I feel like my love story is the closest thing to miraculous that I have ever experienced. The idea that our love is less than anyone else's is dangerous.

Heterosexuality is the ideal from a young age. It is important that children know that gay people exist and love each other.

Hearing about and learning about people with the same sexual orientation at a young age won't make them queer. How do I know? Hearing about straight people didn't turn me into a heterosexual. Hearing about people in positive ways can make a difference for children who feel different, who feel afraid, and who are desperate to see that the world has room for them.

It's more difficult for others in the LGBTQ+ community, and I benefited from being cisgender. People who are open about who they are face a lot of backlash and physical danger. It can take its own toll if you feel like you don't belong. A recent CDC survey found that about one in four teens tried to kill themselves. Attempted, not considered.

I was familiar with the feeling of youthful hopelessness and was shocked to hear those numbers. Even though I couldn't see it, there was a place for me. There was a life in store for me.

It is almost embarrassing that it took me so long to realize my own story was worth something. It wasn't until I shared this last secret that I realized my life might be a signal that the world would have a place for them one day.

Do you want your story to be published on HuffPost? Send us a pitch if you know what we're looking for.

The article was originally on HuffPost.


Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
  • I have stayed at many hotels on the Disney World property. My top picks are for families on a budget.

  • The Environmental Working Group is accused of being paid by Bath & Body Works to give positive ratings to its products.

  • AdMoneywise
    • Why this Ad?
    • Go ad-free*

    If you want to be well off in America, you should aspire for one of the nation's 30 highest-paying jobs.

  • I want some advice. My husband is 25 years old and he wants me to stay at home and not work. Is this normal?

  • Life has changed since they met over 15 years ago, according to the former Spring Awakening costars.

  • A prominent Maryland doctor overseeing coronavirus testing at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport and other sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties was indicted on Tuesday, accused by federal prosecutors of overcharging Medicare and other insurers by more than 1.5 million dollars. Ron Elfenbein has been a frequent guest on local and national television news broadcasts about coronaviruses testing, treatments and vaccines. There was a ribbon-cutting for the new clini.

  • Few know that Amazon has millions of Prime subscribers.

  • There are things you should leave at home if you bring several suitcases or a backpack.

  • The Palace Papers is a follow up to Tina Brown's Diana Chronicles, with a tumultuous new chapter and more admonitions than revelations.

  • During your child's formative years, model this simple yet powerful language. Your child is listening.

  • AdTheDaddest
    • Why this Ad?
    • Go ad-free*

    45 times teenagers got a taste of their own medicine.

  • It is more likely to be cured with an early diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of gynecologic tumors. Approximately 12,000 people die from ovarian cancer in the US every year, and less than 40% of them are cured. Scientists have tried for 25 years to find a screening test that can detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. Multiple clinical tr is unfortunate.

  • The nearest town is 100 miles away, and I moved to the remote Canadian community of Beaver Creek. I did not expect some things.

  • They would do anything for each other. If he ever wanted to be a parent, the costars talked about how he would carry Groff's children.

  • The five episode-run of Private Eye was solid, but the timing of the show was bad.

  • Many women with ADHD feel like imposters. They don't believe in themselves. They go into self-blame after every struggle or sense of failure.

  • We are not telling you not to do these things, just think twice before.

  • Father is looking to rebuild his relationship with his daughter after sharing his experience with other men.

  • Do you think you can get a cheaper internet package? Maybe you should rethink.

  • The firearm was recovered by Chicago police.

  • The quiet town of Tiburon, California was mismanaging its own officer encounters with the public as the world cried out for justice for George Floyd. A married couple were approached by an officer as they were refilling their store. The only Black owned business in the town was Yema, a Menswear boutique that bears the same name as one of its owners.

  • The couple was found dead in their home.

  • AdNew Arena
    • Why this Ad?
    • Go ad-free*

    The greatest sporting event there is just a few months away.

  • There will be two memorial services on Saturday and Sunday to honor the man in New Jersey and Maryland.

  • The 3-year-old died this week after his father, Nafes Monroe, allegedly used him as a human shield during a shooting in Philadelphia.

  • Rewriting gun laws is the only way to address gun violence in the U.S. according to a guest columnist.