No matter what age you are, coming out is a process. A long scary process. First you have to come out to yourself and then to friends and family. But the process does not end there because you will be coming out for the rest of your life. Here is my coming out story.
I always felt like I was a little different from most boys. I hated all things athletic growing up. If anyone every asked me about sports, I was quick to give a big “NO!” I loved playing pretend with magic and all things supernatural. I was artsy. I loved music and playing with toys and video games. If I had the ability to play with a female character on a video game I almost always did. Chun-Li and Katana on Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were my go to characters. My favorite shows (besides cartoons) were Buffy and Charmed, two shows with strong female characters as the lead. I loved it. I wasn’t a huge fan of rap music, but I loved female R&B singers like Monica and Brandy and Whitney Houston. I was a bit different.
I can say I got my first hint of knowing something was different when I was 11 years old. I was surfing the internet when the picture of two men kissing popped up. It was odd, but at the same time I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It drew me in. I brushed it off because I was not gay. While I knew I wasn’t gay, my peers thought otherwise. From the 5th grade until the 8th grade I was teased. Called pretty much any and every homophobic slur possible. I felt so alone. I didn’t believe that I had any real friends except for the 3 boys I hung out with from my neighborhood. I hated going to school. People were always making up rumors about me. From saying I had a “booty bopping” contest in the bathroom to using their final journey entry to tell me that “I need to get right with GOD.” It was embarrassing and hurtful. It truly made the process way more difficult for me because I had spent so much time fighting against the gay rumors.
In high school things were different. There was no more teasing. But there was one thing that remained the same: I still didn’t had no real friends. I did have one friend who I would eat lunch with everyday. It was cool. I met a few of her friends and it was good. Then one day she told me that one of her friends had a crush on me…one of her male friends. This freaked me out for more reasons that you may think: 1) That I had attracted the attention of her male friend and 2) that someone actually liked me. I denied all passes at first. Then one day, in the shower, I found myself thinking about him. I found myself attracted to him. I immediately texted my friend saying that I think I like a boy and she freaked. So after a while, me and the guy started talking and dating. It was good except for one thing: I felt like I had to tell my mom about what was going on in my life. We had always been so close, I felt like I could tell her anything. However, things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. When I told her (via note I might add), she freaked and I had to come out to my dad as well. It was terrible. The next day, she took off work and yelled at me because she wasn’t accepting it. Ironically, my dad took it very well. But my mom’s reaction sent me to a very dark place. My world had shattered around me. Shortly after my relationship had fallen apart and I was alone again.
In my household, my gayness wasn’t spoken of again for a long time except for side comments that you catch only after they’d been said. My brother said something one occasion and my mom said something else on another. It wasn’t until I was in college that my mom said she didn’t care if I was gay or not as long as I was safe and happy. I know it took a lot for her to get there. It’s still super awkward for me to even imagining talking to her about relationships and bringing partners home. I know that it will happen one day, but my coming out has truly been a process. It was difficult. You can’t always expect the people you are close to to be ok with your coming out right away. Just like it takes time for you to process it and what it means, it takes time for them to process it as well. It took my mom years to process it and be somewhat ok with this part of me.
When you come out, you are sharing a part of you with others. It’s scary because you never know how others are going to react to that part of you. If they accept and love you, you feel overjoyed. But if they reject you, it hurts a thousand times worse than any physical pain could ever feel because it’s not something you can change. Something that people need to realize is that just because a person is gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc, they are still the same person but they have decided to share a part of them with you. A part of their identity for which people have been abused physically, mentally and emotionally. A part of their identity that still is denied rights in the US and around the world for simply being. This is my coming out story. It wasn’t nice or easy. In fact, I’m still dealing with the residual effects of it. When someone comes out to you, think about how you’re going to react because that reaction can have lasting effects.