Happy Friday y'all! The last Friday of the year! Do you have any big plans for New Year’s Eve? Every year we have a small get together at home with snacks and family. Last year we spent it with some out of town guests which was a blast, but this year it will just be us and the family.
This week's FF is a deeply personal one. Ron opens up about his coming out process and how his kids took it. He has a thing or two to say about living authentically and his writing makes him seem familiar, like you've known him forever, probably because he's hilarious and so very relatable. We found a lot of truth in his words and we think you will, too. Read on to see what we mean:
Where are you from? Born and raised in the Detroit metro area. Totally changed scenes my senior year of high school when my family moved to rural Indiana. I spent some time in Tennessee and Alabama during and after college and now I'm back in Indiana.
Where do you live? Terre Haute, IN is a small city west of Indianapolis almost all the way to the Illinois border. Our biggest claim to fame is a mention in "A Christmas Story" - "The line stretched all the way back to Terre Haute!"
What’s your Instagram handle? @ronwhodge
Relationship Status: My guy, Alex, and I have officially been together 10 months as of the day after Christmas.
What is your favorite place you have ever traveled to and why? I'd have to go with Lake Michigan. It's not the most extravagant or exotic trip by far but since my kids were young, it's been an annual trip to travel up the west coast of Michigan and explore new little beach towns. It's been a way to connect them with my birth state, enjoy nature and make great memories. It's also where I committed to coming out three years ago.
Choose a song for the story of your life: Todrick Hall's 'Wrong Bitch', lol, not really but I have been obsessed with it lately. Although this changes with my eclectic music tastes, I'd have to go with 'Secrets' by Mary Lambert - love her
What is your proudest accomplishment? I get itchy when I think about bragging on myself but pretty freaking proud of the two awesome kids, Madi & Carter, that I've helped raise. They are growing to be caring, loving and empathetic little people and I love them absolutely.
How would you describe your home décor style? I'd call it an interdenominational modern retro comfort look- I like modern, I like retro, I want to be comfortable and I'm open to how those religions mix.
What is something you wish you would’ve known when you were younger? Living authentically is worth the repercussions- any other kind of life will leave you regretting time sacrificed on the altar of other people's convictions.
What is one thing still left on your bucket list? Really want to take Alex and the kids on a huge adventure to see the national parks out west
How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like? I was 31 when I finally uttered the words for the first time. It was at times excruciating for me and the people closest to me. Overall the most nightmarish scenarios that I had used as excuses to my hesitation for years did not come to past. I did lose most of the community I had known since I was in a deeply religious community as a part time pastor. I did receive many ugly notes and phone calls, and I endured some uncomfortable conversations and scoldings during some reparative therapy that I agreed to attend in an attempt to ease into the new reality with my soon to be ex wife. These things along with the months of uncertainty that followed the big decision have paled in comparison to the new freedom found in living authentically. Life still has its challenges and living out is not always as fabulous as I built it up to be in my mind, but I'm so very thankful.
What have you learned about yourself in your coming out process? When you live life compromising your true self and hiding from those closest to you, you don't realize how thoroughly that affects everything you do. The insecurities I had nurtured into these big monsters took a while to recognize. I didn't realize how much I struggled with my body image or with the idea of trusting someone. Also, I have emotions! Dad always called me the ice man growing up. I hated showing emotions. Since coming out I'm crying during those damn ASPCA commercials.
We see you have kids (they’re so cute!), how did they take it? The kids grasped most of what was happening much quicker than I expected. In spite of the fact that I was changing the makeup of their home and completely flipping over much of the moral structure that I had taught them and espoused my whole life, they were quick to see the reality of the choice I had to make. They are so sincere in how they see people that they were able to see past the opposition they were hearing from other sources and recognize the happiness and contentedness I was experiencing by being me. There are still times they feel conflicted and confused by the opposing viewpoints in their lives, but the majority of the time is spent simply being active little kids. They absolutely love Alex and the new home we've created together. Our community has grown to replace what was lost and the future is exciting.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why? This is something that jumps around but at the moment I would have to say Dr. Maya Angelou. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was a crutch when I was coming out. When she said, "there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you", I cried. Here was this deeply religious and spiritual person that was not ashamed to be herself and excelled at it. She was a person who really lived her life and was still compassionate and loving- I want to be that.