Coming Out

by Allan Foster

When I was 11, a new kid moved to my town, and we became really good friends. I can remember sleeping in his bed, looking across at him, and wanting nothing more than just to reach out, put my arm around him, and kiss him -- and I hated myself for it. I thought that I was a bad person for feeling the way I do about him, thought it was disgusting, and didn't want to make him a victim of my feelings. I soon came to blame him for the way I felt, and ended our friendship, which I now regret.

As I went into junior high, things got worse. I was always depressed, had no self esteem, had only one friend who I hung around with, and all we did together was play nintendo on weekends. I was picked on constantly by the other kids in my class, and the teachers didn't do anything about it.

It soon became so bad that the hardest part of my day was to keep from crying in class. I tried to hide my gay feelings from myself, and tried to only think about girls. I never felt about any girl the way I do about other guys... I could never get excited when I thought about girls, and I thought that I was abnormal. Whenever I thought about guys, I'd immediately try to put it out of my mind, and tell myself that I really didn't feel that way, that I couldn't be gay.

In grade 8, I made a few friends, but they didn't help me... no one knew what was going on inside me. I kept my feelings to myself all the time. I became suicidal, developed insomnia, and had severe manic-depression. I couldn't go to my parents, we didn't have any sort of a relationship, as I had detached myself from them. It felt like I was behind a glass wall, looking in at the world... After school, I'd spend most of my time in my room, crying, wishing I was dead.

When I was 14, near the end of grade 8, things gradually got better. I thought that I might be bi. I began to accept that I was attracted to guys, and that it wasn't going to change. At first, I hated myself even more when I stopped and looked at it. I told myself that I could still end up with a girl, and everything would be fine. I told a few people that I was bi, and they took it well. I stopped being so depressed, and my mental health gradually got better.

Soon enough, I started to tell myself that I would drift into being gay. I still got depressed on occasion, though it wasn't as bad as before, and I was wanting to be gay. I thought that I was bi, but wanted to be completely gay. That's why I didn't kill myself (strange how that's what caused my suicidal behavior). I thought that by killing myself, I would be doing the world a great disservice, that my being gay/bi/whatever was too precious a thing to lose.

After the summer, I started to have feelings for my best friend (a different guy than the one in grade 6). I accepted it. I was in the library a few weeks later, and saw a book about being gay. I was too scared to sign it out, so I stole it....after reading it, I felt so much better. I accepted the fact that I was gay, not bi, and I loved it. I felt like I wasn't so alone anymore. I didn't have to hide from myself anymore. Soon enough, I was bursting to tell. I told my friends first:

Me: "Hey, you know, I'm not really bi."
"Yeah, I knew you weren't"
Me: "Right, I'm completely gay."

That shocked them. They didn't believe me at first, but now they're okay with it. I told more people, and they took it well. Rumors started going around, and people asked me about it. I got scared when I was confronted and lied about it. After I lied, I felt awful. I felt like I did when I was still in denial. I made a decision that after I told my parents, I wouldn't lie about it anymore.

Telling my parents was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I lived with my mother, as my parents were divorced, and she was trying to get me to tell her who I liked, so I tried to get her to guess.

"Hmm, is she your age?"
"Is she in your school?"
"Do I know her?"

Soon enough, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I asked her to drive me to the store. On the way there, I sat in the back seat so I wouldn't have to look her in the eyes. I told her that it wasn't a girl that I liked, it happened to be my best friend.

"Are you serious?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"Do you know what this means?"
"I'm gay."

We went into the house. She wasn't hysterical or anything. She was silent. You could tell it disturbed her. She was pretty rational about it, though. She said things like, "Are you sure?" "How do you know?" "It's a hard lifestyle to live" She asked me if it was all right with me if she got counseling to help her.

That was last October. Things are so much better for me now. I can sleep well at nights (though I usually stay up all night anyway). My emotions are pretty stable. My relationship with my mother is great now (I bought her a book about gay youth a while ago, and she smiled, hugged me, and told me she loved me). I feel great about myself. I can stand up and be proud of who I am. I don't have to hide anymore.

When I came out publicly, a lot of other things that were buried inside me came out too, like how I felt about being adopted, and I came to cherish my differences (I was always "the weird kid").

People now come up to me in the halls, and even on the street and ask me if I'm gay (very small town). Some of them I've never even met before! Things went much better than I thought they would. I've been called names only a few times since I came out in October, but only by those people who make fun of everyone who isn't them (you know the type). I've had people tell me how they thought I was so brave, and how they respected me for being out. I haven't lost one friend. In fact, I've gained many! I think it's because I have so much more self-esteem now. I love myself.

My dad knows. He found some e-mail mentioning the fact that I was gay, and I speak freely around him. I confronted him about it once, but he dodged the subject, and we don't talk about it. Oh well, I guess I'll leave well enough alone for now....

Right now, I'm going into grade 10, into high school. It'll be an adventure for sure......especially if the local newspaper decides to do that story on me. I'm 15 years old, and completely out in this small town of 5000....boy do I love to make waves!

Since I came out, I feel as if I'm a different person. It's like that old me died, and left the new me in his place. I love life now. I can't imagine how I ever got to be so messed up. But, I wouldn't change anything. All that stuff I went through, all the pain and confusion, forced me to look deep inside myself, to look at things from a different perspective, and that's one of the greatest gifts I have.

If you are out, then good for you! It means you're strong, and can help other teens that are struggling just by being visible.

If you're in the position where I was, confronting your sexuality, just remember you're not alone. There are other kids right beside you going through the same thing, and I'm just a few clicks of the mouse away if you need someone to talk to. Even though it may seem hopeless now, things will get better, I promise. Find someone you can trust, someone you can talk to. There are people out there who understand, a whole community of them!

Allan Foster, 15, lives in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He is adopted and will attend 10th grade this fall. "Anyone can write me if you want. I love meeting new people! Or if you need someone to talk to, I'll be glad to listen. I can be reached via email at al@atcon.com, or on irc as Dead_Eyes, frequently on the channel #gayteen."
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