My strategy for heading home came to me in therapy. When I left Mimi, I started really thinking about why I was in that relationship. The conclusion I came to was this: until I repaired my relationship with my mother -- the most important woman in my life, and the one that has effected me the most -- I would never have a healthy relationship with another woman. I think a lot of gay kids can relate to that. My relationship was a disaster with my mom, so how could I expect to choose a good partner? So I guess I could say that I went home for selfish reasons because I really went home with a mission to work hard on that relationship.
My mom wrote me a long letter that was very touching about everything that she regretted, and it was about a five-page letter. She misses me and wants me in her life. After last year's show we barely talked. She realized that her inability to talk to me and be more inclusive in my life and get over my own needs and desires and is going to destroy any opportunity to have a relationship with me. I, also, wasn't being drained because of my relationship with Mimi so it was the right time for both of us. I'm so excited about the possibilities of my new relationship with my mother.
I was nervous walking back into my high school. Because I come from such a small town, a lot of my old teachers were there. They've taught my mother, brother, myself...so already just walking in the door made me feel like a kid. And then, it's just one of my phobias to get up in front of a microphone.
That was cool. Talk about coming full-circle. But seeing the kids want an autograph was really cool. I didn't know if the kids knew I was gay so I was a bit nervous about that. But I tried to speak to them and put myself in their shoes. I would have loved to hear someone say no matter where you come from if you want to dream big...go for it. You can achieve it. I wanted to hear someone come from New York or L.A. come to me and say get the heck out of here if this is what's inside of you.
Watching my mother watch me give the autographs was very special. Like I said, my mother doesn't dole out compliments. For her to take me aside and say she was proud of me and to see her glowing, that was a cool moment.
We visited the next day, my last day at home. I didn't know what to expect because I am very much my mother's parent. We're very close in age. She had me when she was 18. I assumed I would be consoling her and saying all the right things to her. She handled the situation beautifully. She was a parent in every sense of the word, and I respected her and looked up to her. When I watch that scene now, I cry.
I do have the home video footage and it was very difficult to watch at first. Now I notice how much I look like my dad. We have similar body types and our eyes. Secondly, I don't remember him being happy and loving me. I don't remember that father. I remember the mentally ill father. Since talking about my dad in Arrowhead a lot of people have talked to me. When I hear so many people share their stories...it helps me because I know I have done the right thing, that I've shared and helped in some way.
The timing of Doug's news happened exactly as it's seen on the show. I was in Ohio shooting and the crew and I were breaking for lunch. The trainers called me off camera and the feeling of shock -- combined with my own exhaustion -- we just sat down and cried. The next day I visited my dad's grave. It was just a moment that was very surreal.
My concern for Doug was there but he was so very private. He didn't want any of us to be a part of it. We couldn't really process it because he didn't want us to be a part of it. It happened fast. None of us knew how sick he was. And he did not want any of us there. He wanted us to remember him as the vibrant, happy man that he was. Those were his express wishes.
To me this was definitely the most powerful episode and the most beautifully shot. I couldn't be prouder of it. I look forward to seeing how people react.