Ninety-year-old Hector Black talks of his long road to coming out as gay.
Hector Black has lived a long and interesting life, as a husband, friend, father – and closeted gay man.
Following the brutal murder of his daughter, he opened up for the first time recently about his lifelong struggle with his sexuality – and why he didn’t come out until he was 70 years old.
Black begins by telling interviewer Ari Shapiro that there wasn’t even a word for the feelings he felt when growing up.
“No word for it at all. I had nothing. I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that I was attracted to men,” he says.
“The word gay was never even mentioned, or even homosexual. It was whispered if it was used at all.”
The first time Black realised there were other “people like him” was during his time at university in the 1940s.
That was also where he had his first sexual experience – something he was initially horrified by.
“I thought this is not me. This cannot be me. And I was just horrified,” he tells Shapiro.
“And then, you know, after a few months, I started thinking about it and then I realised that I’d wanted to experience this again. And – and so we became lovers.”
Black joined the US Army, before receiving treatment for his “condition” – which involved taking oestrogen.
The treatment stopped when he began to grow breasts, by which time he felt he was “cured”.
He went on to get married and have children – although temptation was never far away.
His wife knew of his relationships with other men, but refused to end their marriage due to the love she felt for him.
It wasn’t until his daughter came out as gay that Black says he was brave enough to do the same.
“We both loved her just as much as ever – more even because I knew how much she had been through, how much she suffered because of who she was.
“And I just said this is it – that I can’t – how can I love her and hate myself for what I am?”
Asked if he had any regrets about coming out so late and the struggles he has faced, Black gives a poignant response.
“There were some things just amazing how being gay helped me to understand what it means to be different.
“I really am grateful that my heart has been broken a good many times because it does help me to love.”