Ted Smith: Sharing His Story

In this episode, I am joined by Ted Smith, who identifies as a gay man. Ted was so open about sharing his story, and I am honored to share it.

As so many know, June is PRIDE month. As a proud ally, I want to show my support. That being said, I have been doing these bonus episodes to share the message that LOVE IS LOVE…and we all deserve to be loved and to love others.

If you would like to be a listener supporter of this production, please help to keep me caffeinated. As a listener supporter, you will have access to supporter-only content and you will know about bonus episodes before the general public.

If you would like to be a guest and share your story, please submit my online podcast guest application. You can find out more about this podcast here.

Transcript

Hi, guys,

Kim here with This Fat Girl Life. And we are doing a bonus episode. I actually have two bonus episodes tonight. So I feel like totally full of love, because I’ve got some amazing, amazing guests tonight. So this first bonus episode, I have Ted with me, Ted, thank you so much for being here.

Thank you for having me, Kimberly. I’m excited.

Of course. Now you guys, as many of you know, and I’ve been, I’m very expressive about the fact that I am a very proud ally, I completely support the fact that love is love, I don’t care who you love. As long as it’s not like you inappropriate stuff for him like adult child stuff. I mean, that’s, that’s not there. But, you know, in general, you know, love is love. And we all have a right to love, whoever that other person looks. However that looks whether it is same sex, different sex, multi racial, it doesn’t matter. Because love is a heart condition. And that’s what these episodes are celebrating. So Ted, before we go into your story, why don’t you tell everybody just a little bit about yourself?

Sure. Hi, everyone. I’m Ted Smith. I am based in St. Louis, Missouri. I am an author and a coach. And I identify as gay.

So let’s kind of jump right on in. When did you realize that you were gay?

It’s always it’s always an interesting question to be asked. On some level, I always knew I was different. And as a kid, I was I grew up in a small town in Illinois, and very sheltered as a kid. And so for the longest time, I didn’t even know gay was a thing. Didn’t know it existed. It wasn’t until the bullies on the school bus, you know, teased me for being gay, that I had even really heard the term and even started to think, you know, oh, okay, well, so that means this. And then when I started to hit puberty, I realized, okay, yeah, there’s, there’s some truth to you know, the bullying that I’ve been dealing with for the last several years. So on some level, I always knew I was gay, but probably around the start of puberty is when it really started to click.

So at that point, it starts clicking, do you go to your parents? Or is that something that you kind of kept to yourself for a while,

I kept it to myself for a while. So when I was in seventh grade, I actually began a relationship with a girl who was in the class ahead of me. And it was a very confusing in a way experience, because I had had these questions of, you know, my sexuality leading up to that. But when I met her, I really enjoyed being with her in every sense of the word. And so I didn’t quite understand that. My gay feelings weren’t going anywhere yet. I really enjoyed our relationship. We ended up being together for four years through high school, a year into that. I so when I was growing up, I really didn’t have many friends. I was ostracized and teased a lot, like I said, just didn’t really fit in. And when I met her, that was kind of my first experience with a best friendship as well. And so a year into our relationship, I decided to confide in her that I thought it might be gay, and it was the first person I ever told that to anyone. I was still unsure myself, but I feel like I was looking for support and understanding from her Um, and of course, now as an adult looking back on this, I think, I’m not really sure what I was thinking as far as, you know, wanting support and understanding because understandably so, when the guy that she’d been dating for almost a year told her, he thought he might be gay, she did not react well. We both grew up Catholic. And so she had a religious strong religious background as well. And you know, leading up to that event, I had become to understand what gayness was, but I also hadn’t really been exposed to the rejection that can exists from the church and the religious aspect of things. She had, however, and she reacted, you know, quite emotionally. And that was my first experience with rejection from someone that I truly loved and trusted. And it was also my first experience with someone visibly sharing how sinful and disgusting they thought homosexuality is. I will caveat this entire story by saying that she and I are now like, closer than ever, we’ve, we had a great you know, a few years together and have remained really good friends since then had done a lot of growth and healing and the kind of enjoyed seeing each other separate paths along the way. But for that time, you know, we really wanted to be together. And so we both naively thought, you know what, we’re gonna stick this out, and we’re gonna fix this. I’m gonna fix myself and she’s gonna help we see how that turned out. But like I said, You know, I did always have these conflicting feelings of wanting to be with her. And so by the by the end of our four years together, I concluded that I was bisexual. It would explain how I had the attraction to guys but yet I had you know, loving and as well as a physical attraction toward her. After we ended things which had nothing to do with my sexuality, it I still remember the conversation sitting on her bed in her bedroom, and I don’t remember the exact words that were said, but it was basically an energy of so I guess we’re done here. It was this like, peaceful sunset and mutual understanding that like, this is, you know, we, this relationship has served its purpose. And then a few months later, I met my first boyfriend and realized, okay, I’m okay. I’m not bisexual. So that’s kind of how things evolved from that standpoint. But leading up and through all that, you know, the the three years of being with her that it was kind of the last year when we had determined or decided that I was bisexual. The three years leading up to that were really challenging. I went through a lot of shame, a lot of self rejection, just not loving myself for who I was and wanting to be somebody different than something that I couldn’t help, you know. And that took a toll on me. It took time to heal from

I am so sorry that you went through that. I that that hurts my heart. Yeah. That. Okay, it’s gonna be a night of tears, I can already tell. Because, like, they’re already coming. I, I hate knowing that anyone has ever felt like that.

And how did you get to a point of healing from that?

At the time, you know, I was I was a teenager so I didn’t really have the adult approach to healing and understanding that I have now. So I really I needed the external validation, the external love, and fortunately for me, my family was very accepting. I didn’t share anything with them until I was 17. And a couple months into that relationship with my first boyfriend. My mom approached me on Thanksgiving Day, which Thanksgiving Day, ironically, is like a second National Coming Out Day, for whatever reason, that’s when a lot of queer people come out to their families. So it just is funny. It wasn’t something I initiated, it was something that my mom started the conversation. So I fit the bill in that respect, as well.

I mean, it makes sense. You’ve got a very captive audience. Kill multiple birds with one stone. 

Exactly.

So it was Thanksgiving morning, I was still living at home. So I was a senior in high school. And she approached me and she said, So who’s this guy that you’ve been spending a lot of time with? Is that more than a friend? And I in my, in my head, I’m like, Oh, God, here we go. And I said, Yeah, he’s, he’s more than a friend. very loving, very accepting response. But I think, you know, we were all very sheltered in the small town. And so it’s, my perception of her response was that she wanted to make sure I knew what I was feeling. And so she had me speak to my older sister who was, at the time studying to be a child psychologist. There’s an 11 year gap between us. I was I was a happy surprise. As a kid, there’s a large age gap between me and my older siblings. And so she and I sat down that day, and I can still remember her saying, sort in the conversation. Like, I don’t know why we’re having this conversation. Like, I don’t know why mom’s having us do this. But you know, very loving and nourishing there, too. And then my mom ended up telling my dad, which I was more concerned about his how he would react. But he was great as well. And there was one, like, when we first had the initial conversation, he kind of made a comment about how Yeah, a lot of kids your age, kind of go through a period of time where they think they might be, and I’m like, I’m gonna stop you right there. I have been sitting with this for a very long time. And I am 100% certain that this is who I am. And he said, Okay, all right. And he dropped it. And my parents have been very accepting, since family, very accepting as well. And mom actually did the coming out for me, I didn’t actually have to have those difficult conversations. So of the coming out stories that I’ve heard from the community, like, I feel like I had a very easy, blessed path for which I’m very grateful.

Your family sounds amazing. Absolutely amazing. So going through all of this of Yo, figuring out, you know, I know I’m not straight. But I don’t know if I’m gay, too. I am 100%. without, without a shadow of a doubt. Gay, no question. What was the hardest part of all that?

Ah, that’s a good question. The hardest part, like I said, was that the turmoil in between of it was it was less about the label and trying to figure myself out and more about the rejection of I want to be something different than who I am. I mean, I remember so much pain and tears, I did a lot of writing as a kid in journals that I filled with just really shameful, angry, sad entries, about not wanting to be not wanting to be that wanting to be different. That was it was hard.

So when did you hit that point of being proud of who you are?

Yeah. By the time so I entered into that relationship with my first boyfriend. And he and I shared, you know, some coming out experiences as well. We came out as a couple to our friends and stuff like that. So that was an experience as well. It took some time. I was probably early 20s. I would say before I could I look back and can say that I was proud because You know, for the first few years that he and I were together, it was very, not everyone knew. And even in college, like I went away to college to a bigger city here in St. Louis. And I didn’t come out to any of my classmates, because I had such a history of, you know, unlike my family, the kids, you know, my peers in school did not treat me very well for being gay and for being different. And so there was a very much a learned process of not everybody accepts people for that type of, you know, way of being. And so it took me some time to feel comfortable with myself and be able to be proud of myself, even if somebody didn’t like it that much. So I would say early 20s, very long answer to your question.

No, that’s fine. Through your experience, you’ve already said, you know, what the hardest part was, what’s the scariest part was? What was the shining moment, best moment of it?

What comes to me when you ask that question is, so when I, when my ex girlfriend and I ended things, like I said, it was very mutual, very friendly.

My mom though protective mama bear, thought that she had broken my heart. She didn’t realize that the three months that followed, so there was a three month period where I was single, where she and I had ended things and then I met my boyfriend three months later, that was a really challenging three months. Age 17. And I say this with a smirk because it’s, it was very naive of me at the time, but I being in a small town and not knowing anybody else who was gay, like social media wasn’t a thing at the time. And so I, I thought I was gonna end up alone, I was convinced that I would never find love. And I try not to dismiss those feelings. Because they were very valid, they were very real at the time. But of course, I you know, say it with kind of a smirk because 17 is kind of young to be feeling that way. But anyway, uh, once my boyfriend and I were together, and my parents met him and accepted Him, there was also a reconciliation and a coming together with my ex girlfriend, we’re like, gee, they the two of them shared a loving hug. And she, my mom thanked her for being there for me, because nobody else was there for me during those those years of me coming to grips with who I was. So that was like, bringing everyone together that, you know, I loved and who meant a lot to me. That was that was a pretty powerful moment.

So I have one more question. Okay. Knowing what you know, now, living the life you live now, living your truth. If you could go back and speak to that young, scared, confused, boy. What words of advice would you have?

It’s always a great question. Because while I went through a lot of pain, I went through that pain for a reason. And I’m very grateful for it. And so in no way, what I want to change my experience. I think I would just simply tell him, remember, you are loved for who you are.

Ted Smith as a guest on The Rope of Hope Podcast Bonus PRIDE Month episode

I love that. I absolutely love that. With your permission, I’m actually going to make a little image of that that’s going to go on my page. Yeah, I’d love that because I that touches me. Hmm. Wonderful. Ted, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story and your experience with us. I am honored that you wanted to share with that with myself and with my audience. I am honored to have met you and to have connected with you.

So thank you, 

Thank you. I really appreciated this opportunity. And I hope it’s been helpful for for some of your listeners. And I really appreciate you and for what you’re doing. So thank you. 

Of course, you guys, that’s all for this episode. I am going to be back on at eight o’clock…have to look at a calendar. I will I’m gonna be back on at 730 with Gabby and Irene who are going to be sharing their story. And if you thought I should use a little bit of tears here with Gabby and Irene I ugly cried for a good 30 minutes just talking to them the first time so beautiful. Even if you just watch to see me I’d like cry. You guys tune in. I own my ugly cry. You guys remember, like I said at the beginning of this. Love is love. It doesn’t matter who you love. Everybody has the right to love somebody and to be loved. You guys if you are being helped be moved being touched in any way by these bonus episodes, or the bonus episodes that I’ve done in the past and want to see future bonus episodes. Please consider becoming a listener sponsor, go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash This Fat Girl Life Blog. There are multiple ways to become a listener sponsor, you could do it as a one time sponsorship. Or there’s two different sponsorship levels that you could also do where you will get member sponsor only content, you guys. I hope you have a great night. I hope to see you here in a little bit. Bye guys.

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