Happy International Coming Out Day!!! Here is my second post on coming out stories. This is also shared from a Texas A&M student.
“Five Years of Honesty”
Honesty. It is the pillar that we dance around, that we lean against, we push and pull, love and hate, avoid and ultimately learn to accept. And in that very moment of acceptance everything changes, things begin to click and there is a boost of energy unlike any other. In that moment I realized something great about honesty, that the truth that I once knew, the truth that was “stretched,” the so-called truth that became my daily norm was in fact just a lie. In that moment I realized that lying only forced me to succumb to square one. And in that moment I realized I should have dressed better for the occasion.
I’m currently 20 and have been out and proud for a little over 5 years now. That is 25% of my existence that I have lived in freedom. It was my former self, the facade and the lies that I created; it was myself that I broke away from. In retrospect I understand that the pressures society had on me of course influenced my decisions to do the things that I did but I was the one who took it even further. It was I who created and fostered a toxic environment that led me to contemplate but never attempt suicide. It just didn’t sit right that I lived this double life, never sought for help, would be fine externally yet go home to cry in the middle of the night. I realized in those moments that we all inherently know the problems in our life and we as individuals have the abilities to fix them. We are ultimately in control.
So let me set up when I first came out. I had an extra push: a friend of mine came out as a lesbian during sophomore year of high school and I observed how her life changed dramatically. She dressed differently, she shaved her head, and she had this liberated confidence that was intoxicating, and I wanted that for myself. So there was a day in my math class where we had a substitute teacher who fell asleep. A group of us started to play truth or dare. When it came to my turn that friend of mine decided to be my ‘challenger’ if you will. She asked, “truth or dare?” and I’m not willing to pull off someone’s weave so I chose truth. She asked, “Ryan, are you gay?” I knew it was coming. This wasn’t a question that slapped me in the face. In that moment, it was right. It was my time. So I responded to her and others, “No, I’m bi.” I had always known that I was gay but fear once again held its grip on me. I knew it and they knew it. But, I acknowledge that it was a step in the right direction. I started to begin to free myself from the shackles that held me down. I wasn’t completely liberated but the opportunity had opened its door. And I understood that with patience comes transition. By the time junior year came around I shed myself of the bisexual identity since I had come to grow into my homosexual self.
Once I felt the time to be right again, I decided to come out to my sister, she is my only sibling, and I thought she could be the step that would lead to coming out to my parents. At the time I was sixteen, she had already left for college and we were having a conversation by phone. I thought because she was hundreds of miles away if she didn’t accept me, what would it matter? I was safe and there was a distance that kept it that way. I remember watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy whilst talking to her. I remember watching these people and thinking, “if they’re on television being who they are I can be like that in my own life.” So I gathered my strength and this is how that conversation went:
Me: “Lucy I have something to say.”
Sister: “What? It better not be something stupid.”
Me: “No it’s not something stupid.”
Me: “I’m gay.”
Sister: pauses. “Well DUH!!”
It went over very well. If it were anyone else I would’ve been highly irritated and ever more confused. I realized the extent and virtuoso to the phrase “words have power.” The way I dress, the way I talk, the way I listen, the way I move has impact in some form or fashion. I realized that the few years I was out before coming to college I had started to gain control but had no idea what to do with it. The moment I came out to my parents stemmed from frustration; I was standing in the garage with my mother and she had been questioning my friendship with one of my best friends. My mom wanted me to stay away from her because she thought that girl was trying to ‘do something’ with me. I told her that nothing was going to ever happen but she was adamant that something would. This wasn’t the way I had planned on telling my mother but it just happened. I said her “Nothing will ever happen because I’M GAY!” The look on her face was purely stunned. She didn’t say anything and then she gave me a hug that only a mother could give. She took a step back and asked, “Does your father know? I’m going to tell your father.” And like a six year old she ran inside before I had a chance to explain myself. That night my dad came into my bedroom and sat down and we conversed for a bit about how I was gay and the fact that they accepted and loved me no matter what.
I realized once attending college that I am now in control. I am left alone to my own devices and nothing except for myself can get in my way. As I continue to evolve and grow my confidence explodes, as does the cloud of glitter that surrounds me. I want any sort of extension that I project to have positive impact to those who encounter it. I like to think of myself as metaphorical beacon of light. At the age of 20, I understand that this process is much bigger than myself and I want to pass this energy and opportunity to others, that honesty really is the best policy. I’m in a position now that my experience makes me a self proclaimed wise soul, and I have the attire to match. So in hopes that you’ll benefit I want to close with some words of encouragement written by Dr. Suess:
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”