As an innocent little boy, imagination was my favorite drink. As a traumatized adult, alcohol became my favorite escape.

My world had begun to spin in the opposite direction as I laid on my back naked. At first I felt fearful and alone. He called the game “bf & gf,” and said his cousins played it all the time in the attic of his grandparents’ house. Somehow I found this comforting. At the age of 5, I experienced something of joy or lust, an emotion that I had yet been given the mental capacity to comprehend. From this moment forward my sexuality was in question.

Manipulation came next. He would tell me, “If you won’t play our game we can’t be friends.” Eventually our parents wouldn’t let us play together. I would ask and blame myself, “What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me?”

Throughout puberty, the least favorite part of my day was having to change in the same locker room with him after practice. Taking showers in isolation out of fear having to confront my inner confusion.

After basketball practice, my brother and his friends would smoke. Seeing their laughter and careless matter to their surroundings, I just wanted to end my daily internal battles and become numb to the world like them.

My mother would greet me with the same question and smile every day after school, “Hi honey, how was your day?” I wish I had had the courage to tell her the truth. My story today would likely be very different but yet still similar to yours. I had a promising bright future ahead of me but in that moment I couldn’t accept my true self and walked blindly down a path which lead to self-destruction. Genetically I was doomed.

Experimentation with substances came next. With them, I no longer felt a need to hide behind the masks I had painted. Under the influence I believed I could be perceived as the brother, the son, the person society wanted me to be. I could join in on the name calling and degradation of others beliefs. I had found a way to consistently escape my true self by seeking solitude in chemicals. If only I could have fast forwarded the tape to see what would end in death and resurrection. Twice.

Overtime the chemicals had carved a lonely void deep within and I would need to seek a power outside of myself in order to find salvation and acceptance.

Scrolling through social media I had recognized a familiar name from high school and clicked add. Unbeknownst to me, this person would provide me with hope and new direction. He gave me light during a dark period of my life and I’ll be forever grateful. I wouldn’t be writing this story today without his unconditional understanding.

Coming out shouldn’t be defined as acceptance of one’s true self.

Coming out is scary and children shouldn’t be scared of who they were born to be.

Coming out takes courage and is an act of self-preservation and self-love.

Coming out of the womb should be the only human experience of coming out.


I’m out. I’m gay. I’m free.

Here I am. Love me. I Love me.

Finding me was my journey.

I didn’t have a conscious interest in women until my sophomore year in college. Looking back now, it’s clear to me that I had been interested in both men and women growing up, but I simply leaned toward the more socially acceptable match-up in my younger years.

My first girlfriend was actually my “Big Sister” in my sorority. Somehow, we cautiously courted each other and ended up confessing a mutual interest in one another. We didn’t tell anyone. We dated for over a year – no labels, no public admission. Eventually, she broke up with me. She didn’t think that her parents would support her decision to date a woman. She supplemented her reasoning by claiming that she wasn’t actually interested in women at all, saying that she always wanted that white picket fence, American family dream; I obviously couldn’t be a part of that.

Despite being crushed, we both tried to infuse some platonic normalcy into our redefined relationship. I started seeing a guy that I met through Greek Life. No matter what we did, however, my ex-girlfriend and I just couldn’t seem to re-establish a healthy friendship. She became jealous, manipulative, and emotionally and physically abusive. I felt completely and unavoidably stuck. All of the friends that I had before I started dating her weren’t really talking to me anymore; from their perspective, I had found a new best friend, and I refused to share that part of my life with them. Even if I thought I could turn to one of them for support, I didn’t feel like it was my place to out someone else.

Everything was building up and up, my emotional stress accumulating, until I just broke down and left campus.

I drove back home to my parents’ house. I was on autopilot. I wasn’t even really sure what I was going to say, but I was quickly losing my grasp on my sanity and my mental health, and I desperately needed someone to talk to. I opened up to my mom first; she had always wanted me to share more of my life with her, when I was growing up. I thought if anything she’d be happy that I was finally talking to her about something real. I was lucky. Her acceptance and support was the lifeline that I needed. I asked her to talk to my dad for me, because I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him one-on-one. He was just as understanding. At that moment, it was crazy to think that I had prolonged my own despair and isolation, because I had been too afraid to share that part of me with anyone. I had been consumed by “what if” scenarios, that I would play over in my head. As I said, I was lucky to be able to rely on my parents; but after feeling that enormous sense of relief, I realized that reaching out to anyone who might have been supportive – even a stranger – would have helped save me. Now, I can confidently say that I would rather openly be myself, than pretend to be someone else that people might have an easier time accepting.

It’s so easy to feel stuck and to let yourself live there, because at least it’s familiar territory. We think it’s safer than the unknown. I know it’s stereotypical, but coming out was like ripping off a Band-Aid. It had the potential to feel horrible in the moment, but deep down I knew that it would also allow me to properly heal.

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