I started wondering about my sexuality near the end of my 9th grade year: I was 15. I was changing in the locker room after P.E. and was confused by the feelings I was starting to get when seeing the other guys change. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, changed faster, and left. I felt even weirder since I had just started dating my first (and only) girlfriend. It also didn’t help that I was constantly being teased: being called the girl in my relationship, a girl in general, a stupidly sensitive girl, etc. However, I buried the “strange” feelings, dismissing them for my brain being over active from going through puberty, and made it through middle school.
After getting to high school, my girlfriend got tired of my excuses for not kissing her (they were pretty lame, I have to admit), so we broke up. I pretty much figured out that I was gay by my junior year, but growing up in a extremely conservative southern town, often times keeps that from being an option. I had gotten used to the name calling, though by now they had moved on to “fag.” My friends and family became my safety net. None of them knew, and all constantly said things like, “Don’t listen to those idiots, we know your straight.” One of my favorite retorts from one of my friends was, “He is not a cigarette, dumb-ass. Learn what words mean before you use them!” Finally in my senior year, a guy I only kind of knew, decided to come out publicly. For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe this is alright; maybe I’ll be fine. That day after school as I was walking to my car, I saw him getting harassed by a bunch of jocks. After freezing in shock for a second, I ran and got a teacher. The bullies were only suspended for 2 weeks, and that brave boy I barely knew transferred to a new school.
So, I reburied all of my feelings, farther down than I ever had. I went off to college, and, holy crap, living on a hall of only guys made things 10 times worse. I learned to deal with it and continued my lie by pretending to have crushes on girls, giving my 2 cents on hot female celebs, and all that jazz. As far as I knew, no one ever had a clue. Unfortunately, I had been burying everything for so long that the added stress of a very challenging college sent me into a spiraling depression. I barely survived my freshman year. If it hadn’t been for my mother and my new friends, I would not have gone back for sophomore year.
At the end of my Junior year, I was finding it harder and harder to lie. I was aching to be myself to the point that I flunked a class. Then something crazy happened. One of my best friends from my freshman hall came out. None of us had had any clue, and we still call him the straightest gay guy we know.
A large group of us stayed at school to do research over the summer, and my walls gradually began to break down. Finally I came out to a very small group of my friends, about 3 weeks before classes started back. My recently out gay friend admitted that he figured out I was gay within the first month of our Freshman year, but he knew that it would have been a terrible idea to out me. As our Senior year got off and running, I slowly told all of my friends without incident. Everyone was happy for me and extremely supportive. The one challenge I had left was my parents.
I went home to Colorado for fall break, and waited until after dinner my second night there to start the talk. I talked to my mother first because we had grown closer since I went to college, and it seemed easier. It took me a good five minutes of sputtering for me to finally get the words out, “Mama, I’m gay.” With a sigh of relief she replied, “Oh thank God! I thought you were going to tell me that you were failing out.” I was so surprised and relieved at the same time. Then I went out on the porch, where my step-father was cleaning the grill (we had grilled hamburgers). After the large build up with my mom, I was tired and the words just kind of spilled out at him. He just smiled and said, “That’s fine, bud. We will love and support you no matter what. You want a beer?”
Though I am still struggling with truly being myself, I am much happier now that I have come out of my (rather deep) closet. It may have taken 21 years, but I can finally say that I am gay and happy to be so!
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Each Sunday we feature a new Coming Out Story on the Latter Gay Stories blog. Coming Out is an important process that is different for everyone; some experiences are difficult to hear while others are heart-warming and inspiring. Still, coming out is never easy and more often than not we draw inspiration from others through their stories. We rely on weekly submissions to keep the Coming Out Stories alive. We invite you to share yours now.