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CBS2's John Dias and his mom reflect on when he came out 10 years ago

Jackie Dias reflects on her son coming out as a gay man 10 years ago
Jackie Dias reflects on her son coming out as a gay man 10 years ago 05:33

NEW YORK -- As Pride Month comes to a close, we have one last story to share.

CBS2's John Dias takes us to Suffolk County for an interview with his mother about how she handled him coming out and what other parents in the same situation should consider. 

The obvious thing about pictures of the past is they show just that, the past, without giving much or any indication of the future. 

Ten years ago, Jackie Dias would've liked to have had a crystal ball to see the future would be OK when John, at 23 years old, came out of the closet as a gay man. 

"I knew that it would be an adjustment," she said. 

It was a hard pill to swallow, at first. 

"How were you feeling then?" John asked his mom.

"I would say I was shocked, but not totally surprised," she said. 

Many emotions were going through her head, ups and downs and plenty of worries. 

"I didn't want you to be discriminated against," she told John. 

Love overshadowed it all when John and his mother told his father, who died nearly four years ago. 

"He said to me, 'I don't care. You're the same person you were when you first walked in here. You're not any different. I love you just the same,'" John said. 

"That's how we felt. That you were the same person last week, last year, when you were born. You were born this way," Jackie Dias said. "To us, the most important thing was your health and happiness, always, and that you would love yourself as much as we love you. We didn't want you to change in any way or think, love yourself any less." 

"Did you ever feel, like, why didn't you come to me sooner?" John asked.

"I think you would have, because we are very close. You would have, but I think you needed time to come to terms with it," his mom said. 

Watch: John Dias discusses interview, coming out with Dana Tyler

CBS2's John Dias shares story of his coming out with Dana Tyler 10:03

Licensed therapists say not only do many members of the LGBTQ community need time to process their sexuality, their loved ones often need time too. 

"With parents, I think there's a grieving process of the idea of how your kid was going to go through school or go through life and these milestone moments, whether it's prom or a wedding," said David Vidaurre, a senior therapist at the gender-affirming treatment community The Dorm.

"The pieces do fall together," Vidaurre said. 

But some of his colleagues argue sometimes they don't. 

"Because some parents really don't ever come around," said Alexa Connors, a senior therapist at The Dorm. 

For many, the month of June is full of rainbows and smiles. It's a time for pride. For others, there is pain. Coming out could be hard. 

According to a 2019 study by Yale School of Public Health, across the world an estimated 83 percent of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual keep their sexual orientation a secret from all or most in their lives. 

Jeff Ragovin, a proud gay man and chief commercial officer at the compliance software company Fyllo, says authenticity gets you far in the workplace and anywhere else. 

"For people like us, who don't hide it and live our lives and don't live our lives in fear, people look up to that," Ragovin said. 

As for John's mother, her message to those struggling with their sexuality in silence and parents coping with a coming out story is this:

"When I opened my eyes and my heart to a whole community, that I never knew or didn't fully understand, I opened my heart to them, and we're all God's children," she said. 

Everyone deserves happiness.

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