A New York gay man’s twitter thread for Coming Out Day (October, 11) went unexpectedly viral.
Grant Ginder (pictured above) is an author and teacher based in NYC. He’s now 36. On Friday, he posted a story about how his parents first found out about his sexuality.
A #NationalComingOutDay thread! When I was 13, I began collecting pictures of hot men that I found on AOL. I kept them on my family's computer, in a file called "downloads" I thought no one looked at, and I labeled them with the one word I knew to describe hot men: beefcake.
— Grant Ginder (@GrantGinder) October 11, 2019
“When I was 13, I began collecting pictures of hot men that I found on AOL,” he begins. “I kept them on my family’s computer, in a file called ‘downloads’ I thought no one looked at, and I labeled them with the one word I knew to describe hot men: beefcake.”
“I don’t know where I learned the word, but at night when everyone was asleep and I was at the computer I used it heavily: ‘Beefcake in a speedo,’ ‘beefcake on the beach,’ ‘beefcake standing under a waterfall’ (a personal favorite).
“(The pictures were of a very specific aesthetic that if you were gay and coming of age in the 90s you would immediately recognize: buff, hairless men in red thongs, tanned to the color of Magda from ‘Something About Mary.’ Herb Ritts, but with more grease and less hair gel).
“I kept up my beefcake collecting for a good six months until, one day, my dad was driving me to a friend’s house and he turned down the volume on the OBC recording of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat’ to tell me he had a question for me.
“I was not happy. I was going through a very intense ‘Joseph…’ phase and was conceiving of an adaption of it to be done in our living room, with the help of the six-year-old who lived next door. Still, I humored him. I said, ‘Yes?’
“We pulled up to a stoplight (I can still remember which one) and, turning to me, he asked ‘Who’s been downloading all the pictures of the beefcakes?’
“I froze. I panicked. I thought of water splashing across a set of airbrushed abs.
“Looking him straight in the eye, I said, very gravely, ‘Dad, I think it was Mom.’
“READER, DR. FREUD, WHOEVER: I BLAMED MY MOTHER. FOR DOWNLOADING PICTURES OF D-LIST FABIOS, WORKING ON CARS IN THONGS.
“‘Mom?’ he said. ‘Huh. You think I should talk to her?’
“Again: panic. Again: airbrushed abs.
“No – she’d probably be super embarrassed if you did.”
“I reached and turned the volume back up on ‘Go Go Go Joseph’ and he let me. The light turned green, and we drove on.
“Flash forward to now: I don’t know if he ever talked to my mom, though I suspect if he did it was so they could have a good laugh. I was very obviously gay (see: productions of ‘Joseph…’ in the living room), and if anything the beefcakes just confirmed their strong suspicions.
“But Mom! Mea culpa! I panicked, and I’m sorry about that! A braver kid would’ve said, ‘fuck it, those beefcakes are MINE.’ But alas, I was 13. I wasn’t ready. Coming out is hard, and it’s something that as LGBTQ+ people we have to do every day, in a million different ways.
“So: thank you, Mom, for taking the heat, and thank you, Dad, for suppressing your smirk for long enough that I was convinced that you believed me. I am 36 now. I’m out, happy, and in love, and that’s in no small part because of you.”
A short while after posting the initial thread, Ginder posted an update.
“My mother just called. ‘There was one of a man on a motorcycle,’ she said. ‘You had excellent taste.’”
The thread has been liked tens of thousands of times and prompted thousands of comments.
Some have shared their own stories of hiding illicit images.
“When I was 13 I thought the best place to hide the ladies’ lingerie catalogs was under the bottom drawer of my school desk. Yeah… that didn’t work either.”
One woman says her brother hid his porn, “Under the mattress of our parents’ bed. In dad’s side. The boy was a genius.”
Others said Ginder’s dad had handled the situation admirably.
Ginder, who is the author of books including Honestly, We Meant Well, told Queerty he was “absolutely” surprised the thread had proved so popular.
“I always think of Twitter as this void where I can shout things, but I never really expect that anyone cares what I’m shouting about, so to speak.
“I think what surprised me more than the thread’s popularity, though, were the incredible responses I started getting from people who shared similar experiences (the Internet in the 90s, as it turns out, was pretty perilous).
“Coming out is a weird, fraught, terrifying experience, but it’s also a universal one that we as members of the LGBTQ+ community share. This whole Twitter business has reminded me of that, and that’s a powerful thing.”