This time of year is bittersweet for me. Yes the holidays bring so much love and appreciation, but they also remind me of the most awkward day I ever experienced in my life. It was Christmas 2012. I had just arrived in Texas to visit my family for a few days, and on Christmas Eve I logged on Grindr to see if there were any cute boys in my area. Ten minutes later, I got a text from an older gentleman that read “Surprise, Surprise!”
I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I’d received weird messages before and I usually try to respond in a humorous way so I wrote back, “Is it my birthday?” His profile name was StNicholas; right away I noticed that he blocked his location so I wouldn’t be able to see how far he was. Though he was the closest one to me on the home page, I didn’t think anything of it. We lived in a building connected to other buildings with tons of other tenants. It could have been anybody.
“What brings you on here?” I asked. “Oh, you know… just feeling a bit of the Christmas spirit,” he responded. StNicholas told me he had been cooking all day for his family, was pooped out and in desperate need of a rubdown. I couldn’t leave the apartment because it would be obvious. There were people staying the night who would expect me to stay and play host, so I told him I was a bit tied up at the moment and couldn’t leave.
He seemed like a nice enough guy – traveling to Texas from Chicago, was a lawyer and ran his own practice, and even served in the marines for four years. I wasn’t particularly into meeting a man twenty years my senior, but it was Christmas so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Also he was the only one talking to me since I assumed everyone else had better things to do.
I heard a roar of laughter from my parent’s room upstairs. It reminded me I probably should be spending this time with them rather than on Grindr. So I told him it was nice chatting, but I had to run. “Can we swap face pictures?” he wrote back. I sent him the pic I always send guys when they ask for a face – a proper one of me in the park outside my building. He wrote back and raved about how cute it was. When I asked him for his, it was then I realized I’d been duped. The picture was of my mom and dad in their bedroom staring straight into the camera waving like idiots.
I hadn’t come out to them yet. I wasn’t planning to. I had no idea how they even knew that Grindr existed. And my heart sank to the pit of my stomach around the same time I heard them screaming with laughter and bobbing their feet on the ground, which shook the ceiling of my room. They got me.
It took a few minutes to find the courage to leave my bedroom. When I did, they were waiting in the kitchen making me a drink. What the fuck, I said. Your cousin told us about Grindr so we decided to see if you used it, they responded. They asked if I was mad, which, deep down, I was more embarrassed than anything. But regardless of how I felt about it, we drank, discussed the whole thing and decided that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.
I don’t think anyone ever plans on coming out to their parents through Grindr, but like always, my mom and dad were one step ahead of me. That, ladies and gentlemen, was my Christmas coming out story. If there’s one lesson you can take from it, it’s that whenever you decide to visit family for the holidays, keep your Grindr OFF.