Growing up, track athlete Ben Lindaman says he always knew he was gay, but he wasn't always comfortable with it.
"The terms 'Midwest' and 'homosexual' are words that were never synonymous in my mind," he wrote in an essay for Outsports. "I observed my fellow peers and classmates who were 'different' and the way they were treated. I was infused with the ideals that society preaches about aspiring to heterosexual marriage."
When he went on to become an athlete, those ideals only became more ingrained.
"It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to stumble across messages in the media reinforcing homophobia in sports," he wrote. "In my mind, it was just easier to fall in line with society and suppress those gay thoughts as much as I could… until one morning during Thanksgiving break."
Lindaman wrote that he met "a very handsome man who worked at Dyson in Chicago," a man who became pivotal to his coming-out story.
As it turns out, during one Thanksgiving, Lindaman's mother confessed that she had her eye on a $700 (£550) vacuum from Dyson. So, Lindaman decided to text his handsome friend to ask him about the vacuum.
The friend told Lindaman that he could get him the vacuum for just $200 (£157). The problem, however, was that he'd have to explain to his mom how a broke college student managed to get a $700 vacuum at less than half the price.
Before he got the chance to come up with a story, Black Friday came, and he had to act fast lest his mother buy the vacuum via a deal she had found for $600 (£470) (a fair enough discount, but it was no $200).
"The moment of truth had arrived with butterflies that I’m sure almost all gay men feel when they tell their parents they are gay," he wrote. "Fighting through the nerves and sweaty palms, and dancing around the idea of telling my mother, I finally pulled the trigger and spilled the goods."
"I still love you with all my heart," his mom told him.
After that, Lindaman came out to his teammates at school, and wrote that since then, "I’ve gotten to meet and interact with some of the most inspiring people and broaden my social and professional networks like I never imagined."
And as for the Dyson?
"To this day, the vacuum works great," he wrote.
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