In celebration of National Coming Out Day, it is important to listen and learn from the coming out experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. This particular passage is by an anonymous UCI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Resource Center) student. If you'd like to see your story on the blog, read below!
"Sometimes, help comes in the most unexpected places. After my coming out experience, I became eternally grateful for the amount of support and empathy that was given to me by both my friends and my family. Although I lost quite a few friends and acquaintances in the process, the rewards of self-confidence and seeing the sincerity in the relationships that I had with the people in my life made the entire experience worth it in the end.
I always knew I was different from the other boys on the playground but I never thought homosexuality was a bad thing -- my father always told me that being different was being different and nothing more than that. In elementary school, I would go around and tell boys and girls that I had crushes on them and nobody thought anything of the antics, I felt reassured that being different was acceptable.
In Junior High school however, everything seemed to change. All of a sudden the boys were expected to wear a certain style of clothes, act a certain way, and treat girls in a particular manner. I remember being extremely confused but also confident in my differences from these boys but as the years progressed, it became more and more difficult. Being a boy scout and hearing horror stories of homosexuals being "outed" and expelled from the organization instilled a sense of fear and confidentiality with my blooming sexual urges; I began to conform to the gender stereotypes of hyper-masculinity. I remember I started to skateboard and play basketball like a "typical pre-teenager." I started to dress differently. I changed my hairstyle. I started talking more like a "guy." I felt fake, lonely, and misunderstood. Problems with my family and my feeling of rejection led me in to a spiraling vertigo of depression, which eventually led to a few attempted suicides. If it wasn't for two very close friends of mine (who I still talk to on a regular basis), I would not have made it past the age of thirteen.
It wasn't until my Junior year of high school that something clicked in my mind. While walking along ocean beach in San Francisco, one of my best girl friends at the time asked me if I was gay or if I ever had sexual feelings for guys. At first I denied the claim. When I got home from the city that evening, I called her and told her everything--I told her about my depression, my secret crushes, my sexual frustrations and feelings of rejection. With her help, I was finally able to muster up the courage to "come out" to the rest of my friends and eventually my family.
I remember the day clearly: November 3, 2006. I was sitting in my photography class with my best friend at the time and as my teacher was droning on about aperture widths and shutter speeds, I pulled my friend aside and whispered, "I need to talk to you after class about something really important. Is that cool?" He shrugged and continued to take notes. After class I looked him straight in the eye and told him that I was gay -- that was the last time I ever talked to him; he looked at me, shook his head, and walked away. I was devastated. I come from a conservative suburb in the bay area and so this didn't come to me as much of a shock. When a lot of my close friends reacted in a similar manner, I felt isolated and depressed. After a period of frustration, I decided that I needed to broaden my horizons and put myself out there; I began to socialize outside of my network and eventually, I built solid friendships with a variety of people who would be integral in developing my self-identity as a strong, queer individual.
As this social transformation was ongoing, my family was on the back-burner for myself. One day, my dad walked in to my room and hugged me and said that he would always support me, no matter who I was or what I did with my life. I burst out in tears and told him everything. After many hours of tears and anguish, I felt completely drained. With the support of my family firmly behind me, I felt invincible and rejuvenated. Head held high, I finished up the rest of high school with a renewed sense of optimism and a strong, fiery passion to succeed.
Although the beginning phases of coming out were painful and disheartening, the end result was phenomenal. Not only have I become more confident in myself, but I have also been able to help others through the process. Coming out fostered my personality, my relationships with people, and my growth as an individual."
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