PRIDE 2024

27 Lessons Learned in 27 Years of Being Out

The journey continues, but here’s what’s clear so far

Julio Vincent Gambuto
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readJun 11, 2024

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Mom and me after my home perm, in 7th grade, 1991

Each year for Pride, I like to publish this list and add to it. It’s my reminder that the life of a gay man is an ever-evolving journey. I enjoy looking critically at life’s experiences and understanding their lessons. I hope these are somewhat helpful to someone somewhere on this vast Internet.

I came out in 1997, three months after my parents divorced. It was a tumultuous time. Our family was changing, and so was I. I was 19, and those who loved me begged me not to make such a bold declaration at such a young age. But I knew what I was. In fact, it seemed I was the last one who knew what I was. I think the little Capezio dancer shoes I wore to school were the big tell — or the home perm I got in seventh grade. At 13, I wanted curls like Kirk Cameron. Yes, that Kirk Cameron. (Is there any other?) So I bought a home-perm kit from our local C-Town grocer and begged my aunt to apply the magic serum to my straight hairs. My father, embarrassed and utterly confused, asked me why I couldn’t get a “normal” haircut. That was the first inkling I had that perhaps I was a different kind of boy.

Six years later, I fell in love with a classmate. Peter sat next to me in sociology. After months of…

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Julio Vincent Gambuto
Human Parts

Author + Moviemaker // Happiness in a fucked-up modern world // New book from Avid Reader Press (Simon & Schuster) // Audie Finalist // SXSW // juliovincent.com