Today on this gloomy, overcast, November afternoon I have decided to sit down at my keyboard and share with you the story of my, for lack of a better term, coming out. I would not say my story is completely unique, nor that it is a common one. It is unique in many different ways, but at its core is the same as all other stories of its nature, just like we as humans are different in who we are, but we live, breathe, and love as one species.
My story starts in the fifth grade, the year was 2003, and my obsession at the time was the TV show survivor. I used to watch the show with my family, we would all curl up in the living room with our dinner and cheer on our favorite players. I remember my parents' favorite at the time was a young woman whose name I don't recall. My mother would always comment on how strong she was, and my father, of course, commented on how she was a "cute little number." I never noticed, my fascination was held by a young male player who both my parents didn't particularly care for. I always wondered why they didn't, after all he was strong, and certainly capable; I always silently noted that he had an incredible body one that I, as a ten year old, was not quite used to seeing. I noticed a lot of the young men on the show, mainly their bodies; it didn't occur to me until later that I was never quite as interested in the females.
At first I didn't understand my obsession with the men on the show. I tried to explain it to myself, I never once considered that I might be gay, the thought didn't even occur. I started to think that it was because I was unsatisfied with my body, that by somehow watching these men I could learn how to acheive their perfect muscles and sculpted abs, despite the fact that no ten year old could possibly accomplish such a feat, especially one with my diet. I continued to look at muscular and attractive men, never once realizing what was happening to me, at the time I thought it was something all young boys did, I thought it was normal.
It wasn't until a year later, in middle school, that I started to realize what might be happening. In the 6th grade my best friend was a young blonde boy who I had met in my science class. We had been paired together on a model animal cell project and spent a lot of sleepovers working on it. During these times together and the times after, when we would just hang out as friends, I started to realize I liked being close to him. I liked this closeness so much so that I would sit incredibly close to him, attempting to make our bodies touch. I hung out with him very frequently, even though I was often extremely bored when we hung out, I just liked being close to him.
I don't quite remember the exact moment when I realized I might be gay, but I do remember being horrified, and ashamed. It wasn't that I had any problem with gay people, it was just that I didn't want to be gay. I tried to fight it, but eventually I found myself scouring the internet for innapropriate pictures, and looking at men at swimming pools and parks, unable to control myself. I used to make bets with myself and the universe concerning my possible homosexuality. I would flip coins, (heads I was straight, tails I was gay) I would say things like: "if Bush gets reelected then I'm straight, or if ______ wins American Idol then I'm gay." However Bush did get reelected, whenever the coin landed on heads I would call for two out of three, and I don't remember who won American Idol but it didn't make any difference; I was gay.
It took me a long time to become ok with it. For years I continued to fight it, and of course I never told anyone, but deep down I knew now for a fact that I was gay. I suffered through middle school and my first two years of high school hiding who I was, it was incredibly lonely, making fun of the gay kid so no one would figure out who I really was, hiding my real interests, and dating girls despite not having any interest of them, all for the sake of hiding.
It wasn't until the summer in between my sophomore and junior year of high school that I finally admitted who I was. The first person I told was my lifelong best friend: my brother. It was during one of our late night talks, we shared a room and always found it easier to go to sleep after talking to each other about life, school, and anything else, we shared everything. It was on one fateful night that my brother admitted to me that he was gay. I had no idea what to say, in the awkward silence that hung in the air I mentally debated whether or not to finally share my secret. After a very long pause I made the right decision and said to him: "so am I." We talked about it all night: guys we thought were hot, how long had we known, whether or not our parents knew, just everything it was so amazing to finally have someone to talk to about it.
After that night I finally came out of hiding, and funnily enough I wasn't any different. I found the topic too awkward to just randomly breach with my friends so I just started talking about hot guys, and acting a little more flamboyant than I actually was. Finally one of my friends asked me if I was gay to which I replied: "yes."
As Summer faded into Autumn and my Junior year began the world became so much brighter. I was no different at all, yet somehow I felt like an entirely new person, I felt free for the first time in my life. Only one friend ever had a problem with my homosexuality, and it wasn't even for homophobic reasons, but for reasons I accepted, the whole experience made me realize that the whole world wasn't out to get me just because some stupid politicians don't want me to get married. Later that year I had my first boyfriend, and though it didn't last long I finally learned what it meant to have a kiss set you on fire.
Currently I am a high school graduate, I am employed, I am almost 19 years old, and the world is my oyster. It's hard to believe that 8 years ago I hated myself for something that would one day make me happier and more proud than anything else I have ever experienced, or discovered about myself.
Maybe I was so accepted, and still am because I'm from such a liberal city, or maybe it's because times are simply different, but I know that stepping out of the closet and embracing who I am was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It is because of this that I wanted to share this story. I wanted to share it with those who may still be in hiding, or not happy with who they are, and to tell them that though things may be hard now they really will get better. Growing up is a confusing time for everyone, that on top of discovering homosexuality makes it all the more difficult, but I maintain that the world will always be a brighter place when you let your true self shine upon it and show the world just how amazing and unique you really are.