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A lifetime of ADVENTURE

The Stormy Beginning

1996

2000

1982

The Stormy Beginning

Born into a family of musicians, I spent my first years living with my sister and my parents right in the middle of one of my grandfather's wheatfields in Oklahoma. That's where I first realized I was different. A sensitive, loving, and kind little spirit, I never did fit the mold of a typical farm boy.

Despite my country roots, my childhood was anything but simple. Caught in a crossfire between my parents' addiction-fueled brawls and their stress of making ends meet, I was often ignored or punished by my father for things I didn't do.

The drama continued until, years later, while my dad was away at a family funeral, my mom, my sister, and I made our escape. With our newfound freedom in a nearby town, my mother entered the workforce and began sewing jeans in a factory.

But the celebration didn't last long. Within months of being hired, mom quickly discovered that the life of a single mother was filled with all kinds of new stress. In her attempts to find joy and love anew, my sister and I were regularly left to fend for ourselves.

Desperately seeking the love and attention I was lacking, I often disrupted class at school, acted out at home, and even vandalized public property.

I had transformed from an unruly child, into an ungrateful, delinquent teenager.

A Rainbow Appears

High school brought with it many changes, most notably, another move to a new town and a nose dive in my self-confidence. Aside from trying to make new friends, I was also deeply involved in the local Baptist Church and struggling to understand my sexual identity. As my comprehension of my chosen religion grew, so did my guilt, shame, and self-hatred.

After a year of humiliating prayer rituals failed to change me, I finally made the decision to separate from the Church and accept myself exactly as I was. As soon as I came out as gay to my family and classmates, my self-esteem soared.

 

Despite my clarity around who I was, I was still completely undecided about what I wanted to be when I grew up. After my twentieth birthday, I took a chance on romance and moved to Los Angeles to start a new life with my first boyfriend. 

A Rainbow Appears
Ryan Ray at Sixteen with a High School Friend
Ryan Ray at age two on the Farm in Oklahoma
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1988

1980

1997

1993

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