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StoryCorps: “You’re a person of value…”

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Photo: StoryCorps

Mel Hammons (left) and girlfriend Kristye Dixon (right) discuss their feelings for one another and the complexities and challenges of coming out.

Kristye:  I feel like I loved you before our first date, but I didn’t think that was possible. And when I pulled up to meet you, I got out of my car and you got out of your car, and I’ll never forget the look on your face because you … your eyes were real wide, and you just had this huge smile on your face, and just butterflies all around and…

Mel: Oh yeah.

Kristye: … and you know the way you looked at me, I just felt so beautiful.

Mel: I love you.

Kristye: I love you. I mean, I’ve never felt that way so I will never forget it.

Mel: So when was it? Was it about three months? Three or four months later that we moved in together?

Kristye: Let me take you back because first of all both of us were bad-asses, if you recall.

Mel: Um-hmm. Pretend.

Kristye: And by that definition that meant we couldn’t be too emotional, you know. We had to be cool about everything. But you and I were not very bad-ass with each other. We were like a puddle of feelings immediately.

[laughing]   Yeah. We made it happen.

Mel: We made some huge strides in the mere three years.I remember writing you letters-6

Kristye: I know I am better with you.

Mel: I agree. No, I agree that I’m better with you. I think that’s the hardest part about when people come out is figuring out about having enough respect for yourself to force someone else to respect you. You know, you don’t have to accept my sexuality, but you do have to respect me.

Kristye:  Well, you have to be as the person asking for that acceptance. You have to be willing to be without that person in your life and, if you can do that, then the tables are turned. I think that so many times gay people are just sort of begging for acceptance like a beaten-down dog, and I don’t think it should be that way.

Mel: So what would you say to a 15-16-year-old who was going to come out? What would be your best piece of advice?

Kristye: You’re a person of value and don’t forget that. And you’re afraid of others shunning and telling you they don’t want you to be a part of their life, but what if you decided if they needed to be a part of your life. I mean, you have value and you know one of those things you have to never forget. And stay strong. Keep on. Persist. Just persist.


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