When I was younger, I will admit, I was a little dumb. I lacked a lot of common sense and grew up in a fairly religious household where God was the figurehead. What makes this more interesting is the fact that when I was growing up, I had a gay uncle who had AIDS. While at the time, little was known about it, it still scared me.
As I grew up, I felt incredibly dumb for feeling the way I did. I wrongly assumed when I was younger that if I even touched my uncle, I would contract AIDS. Bizarrely enough, I vividly remember a visit to my parents' house where Uncle Mark was followed around with a can of Lysol disinfectant just in case. I can only imagine how incredibly miserable that experience was and how rude and inconsiderate we were as children.
To feign ignorance and to excuse that behavior, at this point, is just sad. I remember having no relationship with my uncle whatsoever. My father wasn't real keen on us being around him and I remember "adult conversations" alluding to the fact that his presence wasn't generally accepted among the rest of the family despite his incredibly "normal" (whatever that is) "lifestyle."
I grew up in the Deep South. A lot of people wouldn't think twice about central Florida being considered the "Deep South," but it is far more southern than you think. It's more Republican than Mississippi and sometimes more redneck than even McIntyre, Georgia, where Honey Boo Boo and her family hail from. The South is no stranger to controversy when it comes to LGBT rights and how the HIV/AIDS epidemic was viewed. (In some cases, it hasn't changed at all since my 1988 upbringing in a small Florida town of around 1,000 people.)
Where I'm from, you're not gay. In fact, you're not anything but the societal norm. You get married, you have babies, you work in a phosphate mine (or similar job), you go to church on Wednesdays and Sundays and you go about your daily business without disturbing society. That's how it is. There's no being different. There's no stepping out of line. There's no being gay. If you are different, don't expect to stick around for long. It's not accepted.