[oasis][columns]

Hi, I'm gay

by Paul Pellerito
May 1996

Hi, I'm gay. Three simple words that sometimes are so hard to say.

I used them to come out to one of my best friends, Matt. I'll continue to come out to all my friends by saying, "Hi, I'm gay."

For some friends, it will be harder to do than others. Some of my friends may even be sent here to read these words.

Friends are there for you-- Most of the time.

I don't suppose that coming out to anyone is easy at all, but it may be the most trying when coming out to friends. The first really good friend I came out to, I had no idea how he would take it. I figured that either he would reject me and tell everyone, or that he would still be my friend and not care.

It turned out to be a mixture of the two, but not as much a disaster I thought it would be. He is still a friend of mine, but he seems afraid to actually be around me. I'm not sure whose sexuality he's uncomfortable with. He hasn't rejected me in that he will still talk to me, but he doesn't talk to me like he used to. He hasn't told anyone else that I'm gay, and I sort of feel bad that I underestimated my trust for him.

My closest friend was the easiest person to come out to. Amanda was the first person from my school that I came out to. She probably knew that I'm gay before I did. She's a great person and has always supported me through crushes I've had, and troubles I've had accepting myself. Every gay person should have a friend like Amanda.

Friends by choice.

My friends are my life. Some of them are like brothers and sisters to me, some of them like distant cousins. They're the people I see everyday, the people that my life would not be worth living if they weren't in it. If you're my friend and you're reading this, know that you are because I trust you. I trust you enough to tell you I'm gay. I care about you enough to call you my friend. But you chose to make me your friend, and you have every right to choose not to be my friend now.

Some may ask me why I'm doing this, I'll tell you now.

Why not?

My sexuality is important to me. It doesn't rule my life, but it's a fairly large part of me. If you don't know that, then you're missing out on a lot.

It hurts to have to hide so much. I want to be able to talk about my boyfriends with my friends. I want to be able to express myself truthfully to them. I feel that if I'm not out to you, you don't really know me.

If I come out to you, it's because I trust you. It's also because I know it won't be an issue. Mostly, it is because I believe that a person's stereotypical views of homosexuals will be changed once they know a gay person. No matter how many good things people read about homosexuals, I don't feel that they can truly understand until they know someone who is.

That's why I'm here. I want to provide a real, live, gay person to my friends to ask questions to. Especially in the Christian community where I live, I'm sure homophobia is preached once in awhile. I think if my friend can look at a bad stereotype and say "Paul's not like that" maybe I'll be helping to change things for the way the gay community is viewed in my town.

Most of all, if I come out to my friends, it's because I'm tired of hiding this part of myself from them. Not because it's a big part of myself, but because it's a part of me I don't feel I should have to hide from them, that I can't hide anymore.

If you choose not to be my friend because I'm gay, it's your loss, and not mine. Prejudice is such a horrible thing to lose a friend to.

Gay, by nature, not by choice.

The primary misinformation I find in people is that they think I chose this, or something that's happened in my life had made me this way.

I'm adopted. I spent the first three weeks of my life in the hospital because I weighed only 2lbs, 8oz. My fraternal twin brother was put into foster care and I soon followed. I was adopted when I was two or three months old, I think.

My parents divorced when I was five years old, and I've lived with my mother ever since.

Perhaps that makes me gay. I don't believe so.

I lived most of junior high school telling myself I was straight, that every teen must go through these feelings I felt, that they will pass. By my freshman year, they hadn't passed, and I couldn't ignore them anymore. What makes me gay is either the environment I lived in when I was very young, or my genetic makeup, or a combination of the two. I didn't choose these, it just happened.

I did choose my friends, and I'm glad that they are. So, if you're my friend, and I'm coming out to you, just remember that you were my friend before, so there's really no reason why you can't still be my friend now.

And for those of you aching to come out to your friends, pick the ones you know you can trust for sure, and go for it.

You'll feel better afterwards, and you may even have some gay friends that you didn't know about.


Paul, 16, is a sophomore at Jenison High School outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. He can be reached by at paul@oasismag.com.
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