My name is Dennis Rudder and I’m from Baytown, Texas.
You know, when I was a kid growing up, going through high school and all, there was always that thought in the back of my mind that something was going on. My childhood, being in a conservative family, we never talked–sex was never discussed at the house. Never talked about being gay or anything like that. No lifestyle kind of discussions or anything, and I was really kind of lost not knowing what it meant to be gay. I didn’t like girls that much, guys were–I really didn’t like guys either. I was, I guess, kind of asexual. I was really naive when it came to really knowing what gay meant. And I didn’t start understanding that until I was going through college and met other people, had roommates, a lot of just socializing with people in college, I started understanding it.
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After college, I moved to Tyler, Texas, and was working up there and had two roommates and we eventually all three moved down here to Austin. And I was out at that time to my roommates and close friends and that type of thing. But I never did really admit that I was gay to myself. Of course, my family, I never mentioned it to them either. After I moved to Austin, I was working here for probably about 6 years before I really got into the gay scene. I went out to the bars, going to parties, all that kind of stuff, and really enjoying being with other people that way. But then in 1997, I decided that I wanted to be a Peace Officer so I enrolled in one of the local police academies and 7 months later I was a cop.
When I joined with the academy, something in my mind–I don’t know how to explain it–but something told me that cops can’t be gay. And so I went back into the closet, way in the very back of the closet, probably for close to 15 years until just about two years ago. I was working on a big project and I was going through a lot of stress with my lifestyle, with my family, things at work, and I got depressed and eventually saw a therapist. Turned out he was gay too, went to the same university I did, so it worked out real well. I also went to my physician and got a prescription for some medication that helped out. And everything seemed to smooth out.
And then in October of that same year, I decided it was time to go ahead and come out. I put a message out on Facebook to everyone. It’s been great. It was like the world was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to tell any more lies about who I was dating, or going out with, or things of that nature. And it really, really felt good.
My work partner used to come in my office and sit down, a couple times a week usually, and he would tell me, “Dennis, I’m so happy that you’re so happy these days.” And he says, “Since you came out, you’ve just totally changed into a different person.”
And I guess I have because I’m definitely feeling a lot better these days and a lot more comfortable with everything.
And for the whole part, or for the most part, all the responses I got back from family and friends were positive. I got comments back that said, “Well, we always thought there was something…” So yeah, there was something. I just wasn’t sure what it was at the time.
The only negative responses I got to my Facebook post, not really negative, but one of my sister-in-laws called me and told me that, “Well, we had always suspected this. We don’t condone it but we support you.”
And I never got any response back from my other brother, neither he nor his wife. And that kind of bothers me. But life goes on.
I can’t wait around waiting for people to accept me, that’s not what I want. Accept me like I am or go do your own thing. So when I finally got through that and decided to come out, I tell you, it’s really changed the world. My only regret is that I waited way too late in life to come out. I know I’ve missed a whole lot but I’m also going to try to catch up.
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NOTE: If you’re a police officer and want to join an online community of LGBTQ officers, send a message to Dennis on Facebook and ask for a request to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/dennis.rudder
Or join the LGBTQ group, Protect and Defend, here: https://www.facebook.com/protectanddefend/
This has been reposted from I'm From Driftwood.