Feel free to tell me what you think!
(Names have been changed for the protection of those mentioned)
As I write this, I am sitting at a small desk in study hall, watching the snow outside blanket the street with a thin layer of white fluff. The flags in front of the school are still at half-mast in honor of the death of Gerald Ford, though it’s been several weeks since his passing.
Surrounding me are a few people who make me admittedly uncomfortable. First, Jacob Marsh, a huge wrestler who hates gay people, despite the fact that he rolls around in the sweat of other men on a daily basis. A few seats in front of him is Dan Smith, the guy who spread a rumor around the school about how I want to make mad gay love with him despite the fact that he is the opposite of my type (in body and mind… he’s an idiot). Last of all is Cory Ritch, a guy who hates me simply because I am gay and has no idea that his younger brother is deeper in the closet than Ellen in 1990.
As I write this, a kid named Frank Reid has come up behind me and called me a “faggot.”
As I write this, I wish people would just accept me for who I am.
As I write this, I wonder if it would have been easier if I had stayed in the closet, though I know the answer already.
When I was younger, around age twelve or so, I knew that homosexuality was wrong. I grew up in a very conservative household; we went to Church on Sundays, Bible school on Wednesdays and any church function in between. It was at home, in school and in Church that I learned that homosexuals were horrible, detestable, dirty people who defied God and paid for their unnatural acts with the threat of AIDS. It was in this house where I was told that Bill Clinton actually supported those “fags”. I think even when I was young I was never close to God for my own reasons; I was always “close” to God because my parents told me that I had to be. I had to go to church, attend Bible school and give my heart to Jesus… I didn’t really understand why, I just knew that I had to. With the same reasoning in mind, I knew that I had to like girls, go out with girls and somehow, find them attractive. All of the other boys at school liked the opposite sex quite a bit more than I did and I would just have to figure out how to as well. Yet, there was a problem with that equation… I didn’t like them the way other boys did.
Still, I knew that being gay was wrong. How could it not be, with my classmates calling each other “fags” or “homos” all day? It was just like calling someone “retarded”, and being a fag, a homo, a retard or a Jew was certainly a most horrible thing. But, I found myself attracted to other boys, which I mechanically knew was… wrong… I formed excuses to myself as to why I was attracted to other boys. It was a phase, it would pass in time, God was just testing me… but over time, nothing changed and I was forced to conclude that something was wrong with me. Anyone with those feelings had to be, as a friend of mine at the time put it, “effed up in the head and the ‘sac’.” So, naturally, I kept my feelings to myself and dated girls in hope that they’d “fix” me.
The first victim of my misplaced and confused sexual “cure” was a girl named Jamie. By this point, I was 13 and in the seventh grade. I had been thinking about getting a girlfriend for some time as a cover-up for my gayness and a way to end it, so when one of her friends asked me out for her, I accepted. At this age, “go out,” meant seeing each other at school, referring to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend and maybe holding hands at the high school football games. I thought that nobody would think I was gay if I had a girlfriend, and it… didn’t work. Nor did the relationship. Kids still constantly called me gay, or a “fag”. At that point, I didn’t realize that kids said that to everybody to mean “stupid”, and without that little bit of knowledge, I took it personally. I thought that they knew my secret…
For a few years, I kept relationships with girls, though none of those girls had wanted to do so much as even kiss until I met Becky when I was 14 in 8th grade. Becky was an admittedly unattractive girl, but she was nice to me and I enjoyed hanging out with her. I didn’t even notice that she was unattractive until a friend of mine told me that she was “fugly”, a word that I won’t even bother to clarify the mechanics of. About a week before the Jr. High “Under the Sea” dance, she asked me to go with her. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to prove to the world that I was the straightest fifteen-year-old that ever walked on this earth. We went to homecoming and over dinner I, being desperate to not be gay, asked her to be my girlfriend. She, being desperate for a boyfriend, said yes. It wasn’t long into our relationship that I knew that I had made a horrible mistake.
I went to her house one day to watch a movie. Her sister and her boyfriend were there with us. If I recall correctly, we watched Armageddon and Becky sat on the couch with me, her arms around my neck and her legs over laying over my own in that position that screams, I’m a woman, so whisk me off my feet and buy me dinner. Becky’s parents were out at church for some sort of choir get-together, so the house was empty except for us. Becky brought her face close to mine, and she bent in to kiss me. I pursed my lips tight and did all I could to keep from backing off. It must have been a funny sight, my mouth closed with Becky making out with me… she just happened to be the only personal making out, I was counting the seconds until she would release her suction of death.
On the loveseat next to us, Becky’s sister and her boyfriend were kissing furiously, their mouths not so much kissing than sucking at each other, like a child trying to eat an entire ice-cream cone in one bite. Soon, the couple made their way to the bedroom and weren’t, shall we say, shy about what they were doing in there. Several minutes later, Becky put her hand on my crotch. I pushed her hand away and she grabbed my own and placed it upon her breast. I pulled it away and she took my other hand and put it on her own crotch. I pulled it away again, and apparently Becky got the hint this time because she slapped me… hard. I got up and she said, “You must like boys or something.” That hit deep and it was harsh. So, my being in the closet with clothing piled on me yelled, “No, it’s just you! You’re ugly, you’re a whore and your breath smells like you ate a heaping pile of shit!”
I left her house, sparing the door hinges none of my fury, and began walking to the Speedway down the street. I called my dad on my cell phone once I reached the gas station so he could pick me up. When he got there, he asked me what was wrong and I answered simply, “Becky is an ugly whore.”
As I remember, he said something along the lines of, “Ya think so?” which essentially meant, “What took you so long to realize?” I knew, however, that he was only speaking of her outward appearance, which was rather unkempt. He did not know that I was deterred by her simply because she tried to make a pass at me. Most guys would fly at the chance to have a girl touching his nether regions. I, however, found it violating, disgusting and uncomfortable. As I sat in the passenger seat on the way home, I knew that I’d never be able to tell my parents what my true feelings were, though I had not yet fully admitted to even myself that I was gay.
After that, I had two more girlfriends. One, named Sarah, was a pretty girl with the personality of a tranquilized squirrel. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; she was funny and I enjoyed being in her company. I should probably explain what I mean by “tranquilized squirrel”. Imagine the most hyper person you know. Now, picture them sitting still, straining not to jump up and scream something totally random, such as, “Oh my God, monkeys!” There you have Sarah. She was a walking bag of electricity, sugar and cats. Oh, yes, she loved her cats. If she were ever to become a character from The Simpsons, she would have to be a young version of the “crazy cat lady”. Sure, I like cats just as much as the next person, but I wouldn’t go so far as to buy mine a little “cat sofa” when it is just as happy sleeping on a windowsill or under a parked car.
The funny part about my experience with Sarah is that her previous boyfriend, a guy named Adam, may have been the most stereotypical gay person I’ve ever personally known. He dressed nicely (not just nicely… gay… and I don’t throw that word around in that way very often) and had that swish, walking, talking and hand gesturing included. Not to mention, a certain attraction to manicures. One day, before Sarah and I were dating, he told me to back off, because she was his girl. Well, it’s good to see that their relationship lasted… for another whole two days after he said that. It was 9th grade, and Sarah asked me to my first homecoming. To that point, I don’t think I’d ever asked anybody to homecoming, girls had always asked me. I went with her, and in the same way I asked Becky, asked Sarah to date me. Over dinner, I, being desperate to have a “cover-up”, asked her to be my girlfriend. She, being desperate for a boyfriend, said yes. You’d think I would’ve learned…
We dated for a hot two minutes before she realized that I was weird and didn’t want to kiss her. Aww, shucks, another one bites the dust.
My fourth and final girlfriend, Kate, lasted considerably longer time than any other girl had before… because we never talked or hung out, and when we did her family scared the crap out of me. Occasionally, I went to her house and watched a movie but that was about it. That doesn’t go to say that I don’t have stories… ooh, do I have stories.
During homecoming with Sarah, when she decided that I was too weird for her cat sofa, I danced with Kate. She was a nice, Christian girl who thought Harry Potter and homosexuals were evil. Sweet. Every experience I had with Kate was stranger than the last. The first time I went to her house, her dad whipped out the knife and gun collection… nice. That didn’t scare the shit out of me at all. The second time I went to her house, her brother showed me his knife collection and told me how each knife was used in hunting. Oh, serrated blades of justice, I wanted out of that house…
About a month after I broke up with Kate, I came out of the closet to a close group of friends at a bon-fire that I had going in my backyard. At first, they were horrified that I had been “recruited”, because a month earlier I had obviously been straight. I tried explaining to them that it had all been a cover-up, but the only one who eventually understood what was going on was my friend Zach who now couldn’t care less whether I like guys or girls.
In his company that night at the bon-fire was Jessica, a vindictive, two-faced girl who got her kicks from talking behind people’s backs, and Devin, an over-excited and annoying guy who always laughed at his own humorless jokes. One joke from Devin may go something like this, “McDonalds, more like McGreasy! Hahahaaha, just kidding.”
For a few weeks prior, I had been dropping hints to my friends that I was gay. The way I did it was incredibly obvious, though my friends just thought I was joking when I told them that I thought a guy was “hot”. At the bon-fire I started talking to them about a friend of mine that I liked a lot and I mentioned that he was gay. Zach looked at me and asked me, in the most blunt way possible, “You’re gay, aren’t you?”
I answered truthfully and Devin began laughing hysterically in his hyena-like style, all the while screaming, “I knew it! I fuckin’ knew it!”
Jessica sat there, listening intently to everything that was being said. Later on, she made a point of telling my friends that I was gay. A friend of mine told me that after I hugged her in the school hallway, Courtney went up to her and asked, “Why did you hug him, he’s gay!” Keep in mind; this was well before I told the rest of my friends. She brought it upon herself to tell my straight guy friends because they deserved to know that I wanted to “have disgusting gay sex” with all of them.
Later that night at the bon-fire, Devin vowed that he would make a point of making fun of me every day. Zach just laughed, and though he seemed quieter than before, he didn’t seem altogether shocked about what I had just told him. After a few more of Devin’s outbreaks of idiocy, everyone went home and I went up to my bedroom. I figured that my friends would never want to hang out with me again, but surely enough, Zach called me the next day to play hockey. Devin was with us, and held up to his promise. He called me a “faggot” all day long, until Zach had to bunch him hard in the arm to shut him up.
Driving home from Wompler (a skate park for hockey) Zach and I started talking about me being gay.
“You know, I don’t care that you’re gay. Just don’t get all fruity like Adam James.”
“Man, I haven’t changed. I’ve always been gay.”
“I don’t believe that, you were straight last week. It just sucks that one of my friends is going to hell.”
I shut up and let him take me home. When I got out of the care, I slammed the door and he called for me and asked me what was wrong. I didn’t answer and went inside. He called my cell phone, asked what was wrong again and I told him that I didn’t want to hang out with him if he was going to say things like that. Okay, so I was a bit angrier than that. I very well may have screamed, “I don’t want to hang out with a fucking moron like you!”
As things progressed, Zach stopped saying anything negative to me about my sexuality. I didn’t care if he still believed what he did, but I didn’t want to hear it. Slowly, more of my friends were told about it and then Jason, who at the time was barely my friend, was told. Jason then thought it necessary to tell everyone he could in the school that would listen that I was gay. This was incredibly risky and stupid, seeing that my mother worked as a substitute in the school at the time, but Jason didn’t care about that. He just thought the world deserved to know, no matter how much I didn’t want the world to.
My peers began making fun of me daily, calling me a “fag” or a “homo”. I was asked nearly every day by someone if I was gay, and I always answered him or her with the same question, “Are you?”
I grew spiteful of my peers, teachers and above all, myself. The hate directed at me translated to hate of myself and of my parents, though they had done nothing and didn’t understand what was going on. I immersed myself in depression and dealt with everything in an angst way. I wrote poetry that mirrored my feelings of the world, poetry that I do not regret writing because it was a part of my life. I bound the poetry and published it with a small online company, more for my own purposes than others. I wanted people to know how I felt. Though I appeared happy on the outside, on the inside I harbored thoughts of suicide.
I understood that these thoughts were inconsiderate and selfish, but they pressed my mind frequently and it was in my mind where I began using suicide as a potential backdoor to my problems, a way to get out if things got bad. If this happens, I can just kill myself. Or if my parents yelled at me for something, I would just think to myself, I could kill myself and get out of this house… As I said, I knew that these thoughts were stupid, and I cursed myself every time I had some sort of suicidal inclination. Although my logic and reason said No something deeper inside me welcomed these insecurities.
By this time, Zach had accepted who I am and began to understand to a certain extent what I was going through. Zach had started hanging out with a group of friends on the school speech team with us who called themselves the “Sexy Six”. Though I hang out with Zach and the others quite frequently, I was excluded. Being a part of the group wasn’t a huge thing for me. To be honest, I found it annoying. My friends and I don’t call ourselves anything because all that would happen is we’d end up forcing someone out. I think the logical people in the group would agree with me on that.
The “Sexy Six”, Zach excluded, didn’t know how to deal with the outward effects of what I was feeling inside. One of the girls in the Sexy Six, *Mary, absolutely hated me. Everything about me. She hated the way I talked, she hated seeing me, being around me, talking to me and she had no problem telling me exactly how she felt... online. While face to face, she never could tell me how she really felt. While I was trying to find friends, this girl absolutely shot me down in a subhuman manner and made me feel like shit while I was already a low as I could go. I don’t have a problem this Mary disliking me, I have a problem with the way she treated me. I may dislike people, but I would never shout, “I effing hate you!” to them.
Out of courtesy, I have not told anybody what she said to me because of her position on our speech team, but one cannot hide the past. She is outwardly nice to me now, but I have no idea what she actually thinks of me and frankly, I don’t care. I don’t think I’ll ever completely forgive what she said to me, because she almost pushed me over the edge when thoughts of suicide pressed my mind so frequently. Looking back at it now, I see how insignificant Mary is in my life, though at that time my depression magnified her hatred 100% in my eyes. I became paranoid, I thought everybody agreed with her. Her words still ring in my head, and though it is all in the past, it still makes my blood boil just to think about it. “I hate you, you’re a freak! You invite yourself to our outings and I can’t stand seeing you outside of school!”
As I said, she is nice to me now, but I will never trust her integrity. She’s nice to me because she has to be. I could ruin her.
As my depression deepened, I wrote more and more poetry. Depressing poetry. In the middle of my junior year in high school, I was writing at least two poems a day. It kept my mind at ease and I found some level of joy in using obscure metaphors to put what I was feeling to words. As I showed some of my friends the poetry I wrote, I found that it was written better than I had originally thought. Though I’m not a brilliant writer in any way, what I wrote connected to others. It seemed that people could easily place themselves in what I wrote, mainly because of the obscure and abstract way in which I wrote. When I had a good one hundred and fifty poems, I sorted through and chose the ones I liked best. I came to a final fifty-five poems and formatted them to be bound and printed using an online publisher. I designed the cover, which featured a castle filtered in blood red with crows circling overhead. I bought about 20 copies of the book and sold them to friends and teachers and even had one put in the school library. I got more attention for the book than I wanted or deserved, but enjoyed getting my writing out there. I was sure that somebody would finally understand me if they just read my poetry.
Now, this wouldn’t be my full “gay life story” if I failed to mention Stephanie, formally named Stephie. I shared a photography class with her and barely knew her until one day, after a kid asked me if I was a “fag” in class and I responded, “Why, are you?” Stephie paid close attention to my answer and reaction and began talking to me often in following days. When the same kid asked me again if I was a “fag”, I responded, “Dude, quit asking, you’re not my type.” Stephie asked me that day if I’m gay and I didn’t answer her directly. She senses that I was uncomfortable and wrote me a note about it.
It read, If you’re gay, that’s cool. If you’re not, that’s cool, too.
I wrote her back with a note that said, Yeah, I’m gay.
Stephie smiled as she read the note and gave me a hug. I was surprised at her reaction, because up to that point most of my friends hadn’t been very accepting of my sexuality. Stephie, however, seemed to not only not care about it, but she seemed to think it made me… me. Whereas, before, I and my friends felt as if it was something out of place that shouldn’t be talked about. Stephie made me challenge many of my ideas and eventually eradicated my inner homophobia. I was so afraid of anything that was too outwardly gay, such as rainbows or anything that could be perceived as feminine, or at least not masculine.
One day when I asked Stephie what was stereotypically gay about me she said, “I refuse to tell you because I think you’ll go try to change yourself to prove yourself, though I think you’re perfect the way you are.”
Now that I think back on it, I know that she was right. I would have gone out of my way to change was even slightly stereotypical about me. Where I was once scared of rainbows, I now wear them. I have rainbow wristbands and a rainbow belt. There’s also a rainbow badge on my messenger bag. I used to avoid the feminine gay guys at my school, but now they’re friends of mine. I used to only be friends with a gay guy who I found to be too feminine for me… now I think I’m falling in love with him… I owe a lot to Stephie. She showed me how to be me.
While my poetry book was still selling, I met a nice guy named Sean. He went to the school library every day during 5th period and I worked for the librarian. Sean was gay and he was definitely my type, so when he gave me a note asking me out to the movies I immediately said yes. We made a date to go to the movies to see Scary Movie 4, though it ended up being anything but a date. Sean’s mom insisted that he brought along his younger brother to see the movie with us, apparently unaware that Sean and I planned the evening to be a date. Seeing no point in trying to maintain the evening as a date, Sean invited his friend Brittany.
We watched the movie and it was funny, but none of my plans were able to talk place. It’s hard to hold somebody’s hand when his best friend is sitting between you. After the movie, Sean, Brittany and I dropped his brother off at his house and then went back to mine. I made some coffee and we headed up to my room. We watched some TV, I took some funny pictures of Sean’s hand in front of his face and around midnight we went outside to wait for Sean’s mom to pick up him and Brittany. Needless to say, I was rather disappointed with the turn of events for the night… until Brittany went inside to go to the bathroom and Sean and I were left alone. Without much forewarning, Sean kissed me on the lips and I… had no idea what to do. I kissed back, but when Sean pulled away I got the feeling that I hadn’t done something right. At that moment Brittany came out of the house and Sean’s mom pulled up. Sean smiled back at me and I waved as they pulled out of the driveway and cursed myself for having never kissed back any of the girls I dated. Maybe they could’ve at least taught me something, but as it happened, I had no clue what I was doing when it came to kissing.
A few days later, Sean gave me a note telling me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship, was sorry for kissing me and just wanted to be friends. It all sounded very generic.
Summer break hit. I was relieved to get away from all of the schoolwork, whispered comments and threatened violence that came with a public education. I was free, if just for a little while. However, my dad had somehow taken up making frequent anti-gay comments. It was as if he had reverted to his sixteen-year-old self and started saying things such as, “that’s gay”, “faggot”, “homo” etc… I began hating my dad and my parents couldn’t figure out why. So, one day when my dad was at work and my mom was attempting to tell me that gay people are statistically more likely to be promiscuous and get AIDS, I told her, “No, mom, they’re not.” She asked me how I knew and I told her, “I’m gay.”
She looked at me and asked me if I was serious. I told her yes. She began crying, talking to the ceiling saying, “Not my son, why my son? Not my son!”
I told her that I could not change the way I am, but she adamantly disagreed. “You are walking down a path with the devil, you have chosen this!”
In my mother’s confusion, she yelled at me until I couldn’t put up with it anymore. I walked to my friend Kayla’s apartment complex, which was about two miles away. The parking lot was littered with trash, empty tubes of lipstick and there was a used condom on the sidewalk. To be sure, it wasn’t a great part of town. I walked up to the apartment on the far end of the row, opened up the outside door and the smell of cigarettes hit my nostrils as a waft of cold air blew over me. I walked up the short stairway and knocked on Kayla’s door. I heard shuffling from inside, hands hit the door which meant that Kayla was propping herself up to look out the peep hole and the door opened. When she smiled at me, I simply said, “I told her.” and began crying in her arms. “She doesn’t love me anymore.”
I let go of Kayla and pulled a cigarette out of my bag. I lit it up and took a long drag. Kayla told me everything would be okay and brought me a glass of water. Her mom had been in the next room and she came out to talk to me.
“I hear someone’s having a crisis.” She said in her sweet, yet raspy tone due to smoking.
I answered simply, “Yeah.”
“I suppose she told you all about Jesus, Sodom and Gomorra and how this isn’t your path in life, eh?”
“She’ll come around, sweetie. You just sprang a lot on her. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but parents have a perfect image of their children growing up, getting married and having children. In her eyes, that can’t happen anymore. In her eyes, her perfect image of you has changed.”
I nodded, wondering how what she was saying was supposed to help me.
“All you have to do is be the same good kid you’ve always been. She’ll come around”
Kayla’s mom hugged me and went back into her room, where she was watching TV with her boyfriend.
Kayla and I played video games for a while until my dad called me on my cell phone. He asked me where I was and I told him. He said he wanted me home right away for dinner. I said goodbye to Kayla and her mom and began walking home. Kayla’s house is about two and a half miles away from my house, so it took a little while to get back. When I walked in the front door, my parents were waiting for me in the living room, watching TV. They looked at me and my mom had a glass of wine in her hand. She was tipsy. I had never seen her drink too much alcohol before and never have since. My dad told me to sit down.
“Mom told me.” He said.
“Uh… right. Are you okay with it?” I asked him.
“Greg, I’m okay with you.”
He was being annoyingly calm, dodging around the question, not exactly answering it or leaving it unanswered.
“Let’s not talk about this now, I brought dinner home.”
What was wrong with him? I wanted him to yell! I wanted to yell! I wanted him to call me a “fag”, to tell me to get out… I wanted him to display some form of the emotion that I knew he held inside towards gay people. I wanted something more than, “I brought home Kentucky Fried Chicken and crispy potato jo-jos.”
Over the next few weeks my dad was still annoyingly calm and my mom pretended as if nothing happened. All I knew is that I had nothing to hide anymore and I certainly wasn’t going to get kicked out as I had for years expected to if I ever came out to them. When my brother came home to visit he told me that he had to talk to me.
“Greg, as if you don’t know.” He said.
I went up to my room, turned on some hard rock and began working on some graphic design. My brother, Nathan, came in a few minutes later and sat in my round, bowl-shaped chair.
“Greg, when did you decide that you’re gay?”
“I didn’t decide or choose anything.”
“Don’t give me that shit,” he said, “I hear that all the time from gays. What made you gay?”
“Nothing made me gay.” I said, getting angry.
“Bullshit, Greg. Damn it, man, I can’t even look you in the eyes anymore.”
“Nate, I don’t have to prove anything to you. I know who I am and I don’t need to justify it because you’ll never change anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess you won’t either. Greg, I want you to be there for my kids some day, be an uncle, but I won’t be able to do that anymore. I can’t make it seem like I approve of what you’ve chosen. I’m sure that mom, dad and Danny all feel the same way.”
Nathan left the room and I began working on the computer again, pretending a though what he had just said to me didn’t tear me up inside. A few days later, I told my mom what he had said to me.
“I will never let him do that to you. Though I don’t understand your feelings right now and I don’t know if I approve of it, you are still my son and I love you.”
I smiled and hugged my mom. “I love you, too.”
When my other brother, Danny, had heard what Nathan told me he had a talk with me as soon as he could. He began asking me questions about the whole thing, genuinely interested in what I had been through.
“So, how do you know that you’re gay?”
“It’s a lot of things, but when you find that you’re attracted to guys and not girls, well…”
Danny laughed and kept asking questions, “Are you interested in anybody?”
“No, not really. Nobody that I know is gay, I mean.”
“Have you ever kissed a guy?”
I got a little bit uncomfortable and answered truthfully, “Yeah, I went on a date with a guy a little bit back and he kissed me, but I’m not really into him at all.”
Danny asked some more questions and then said, “So, tell me about what Nathan said to you.”
I explained what Nathan had said about me not being allowed to see his future children and Danny got up and hugged me. I could hear in his voice that he was crying, “Greg, I will never do that to you. You’re my brother, my brother, and I love you. Don’t worry about what Nathan says, he’ll come around. Mom, dad and I will never let him keep you out.”
I was crying too as I hugged him and said, “Thanks, Dan. You’re a good brother.”
Looking back, it all sounds so corny and “Happily Ever After”. I’m glad that it does. I am glad that I have a family that still loves me because I know that they could just as easily kicked me out for this. I know now that they’re my family and they would never do that to me.
We may get into arguments like any teen with his parents, but I love them. Where I once was miserable, self-loathing and suicidal, I am now happy. I enjoy my life and have plans to go away to college in the fall. I’m going for a major in graphic design with a minor in creative writing. For the first time in my life, I feel like my life is on track.
As I finish this, I am back in my same old seat in study hall with the same people around me. It’s been a week since I first began writing this on a school laptop and the flag is still at half-mast at the entrance to the school. It’s been great recapping my experiences, because I know now that I never want to be closeted again. I remember the shame I felt, the paranoia that someone might know… and now, I’m happy with myself. Despite the fact that this phrase is becoming cliché, I have gay pride. I am not proud simply because I am gay, I am proud because, despite social stigmatization, I had the courage to let the world know who I am. That takes guts. That is what I am proud of. Though much of the world doesn’t accept me for who I am, I am happy letting people know that I am not afraid to let people see me. I have come along way from dating the crazy cat lady.