It took Antonio Spencer half a century to come out. Now he’s anxious to share his truth

MARK STOKES | Illustrator
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Name and age: Antonio Spencer, 55

Occupation: Bus operator

Spotted at: Ross and Haskell avenues

A tradition of leadership: Born an only child in Dallas, ambitious Antonio has been in life leadership programs since the sixth grade. In his freshman year of high school, he was president of the student senate body and voted “Wittiest.” His parents divorced when he was 13 years old, and that’s when the weight of life started to fall down on him. He was struggling with his identity, being African-American. “In that era, there were certain things you dare not disclose. I had watched my cousin be disowned because he came out to his father, my uncle.” With all the shame that he encountered, he couldn’t handle that kind of scrutiny. Family has been everything to him, even today.

Coming to terms:  After being married for 30 years, he still couldn’t connect the dots. With extensive counseling, he was encouraged to accept the truth, “in order for me to pull my life together so that I wouldn’t fall into the pit of hell.” He can remember the first time he admitted that he was gay, was in November 2013 — exactly five years ago this month.

“To actually say it out loud for the first time was an unbelievable feeling. I’m sure I lost 50 pounds! The process of coming out can be overwhelming. There are factors that stack on top of each other which have to be sorted and placed in the right perspective.”

Time has brought about a change: “My parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and cousins are much more accepting today.” He hopes someone will read his story and know that they are not alone in their struggle.

His interests include writing and creative thinking. He enjoys singing and plays the saxophone. He also ministers and loves to praise and worship. In his free time, he bowls, fishes and loves the cinema.

Favorite scripture: Psalms 23.

Favorite quote: “The Lord heard my cry.”

His future aspirations are to write a few books and create a Christian hand game that can be played like a video game. “I hope by coming forward, I can be part of a support group and become a gay activist.”