08/14/2013 04:37 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Gay Man Comes Out to Wife and Children, Strengthens Family Unit (VIDEO)

I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit forum for true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. Founder and Executive Director Nathan Manske and two companions successfully completed a four-month, 50-state Story Tour collecting LGBTQ stories from towns and cities across the country. They're pulling some of the most relevant, important, and sometimes just enjoyable stories from their archives and sharing them with The Huffington Post.

It's not entirely uncommon to hear about gay men who were in such deep denial about their sexuality that they got married to a woman and had children. But what do you do when you have a family and then realize that you are indeed gay?

Apparently, one option is to disappear without a trace, officially be declared dead, and resurface 16 years later with your boyfriend.

Another option is to sit down with your wife, say, "I'm gay," and deal with the consequences.

The latter option is what Rick Clemons did. It wasn't easy, but he's been thankful for his decision every single day since. Rick explains how it started:

I told [my wife], I said, "I'm gay, and I met somebody." The reaction immediately was shock, anger. I always laugh when I say this part. It's not because it was funny, but it is kind of ironic [that] the thing I thought she would be most upset about was me being gay. It wasn't. She was pissed off that I had cheated on her.

Rick doesn't hide from his mistakes or the fact that his coming out led to some challenges and difficult years. But it was worth it:

I know today, because of that, that's why I'm blessed to have a still-beautiful relationship with my ex-wife. That's why today, since I've come out of the closet, there's been very few days that I haven't got to see my kids. And I know that today, that's why I'm still alive, because I wasn't meant to come out at 19; I was meant to come out at 38.

Running away from problems might seem like the easier thing to do, but as Rick's story shows, being honest is best for everyone involved.


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