So my story starts in 5th grade. As kids in my school starting developing crushes and trying to figure out who they wanted to be with forever, I realized that what I felt was different.I remember teachers and older people around me explaining crushes and relationships between a boy and girl it felt wrong. I felt how they were describing those feelings didn't fit the way I felt. I couldn't explain it. Looking back it was because the feelings they describing were how I felt for girls. Then, jumping to 7th, I started watching YouTube. I watched people like Shane Dawson and Tyler Oakley. Both of them were in the LGBTQ+ community. The more I watched them the more I connected to what they said about love and who they love. I remember watching Shane’s coming out video while making my bed and he said, "I don't want anyone who watches this to feel the way I did hiding who I was from the world." In connecting the dots in my head, I broke down crying. For the longest time, I swung between bi, gay, and pan for awhile until one clicked for long enough that it felt right. Getting into 8th grade, I began to hang out with people in the LGBTQ+ community. We didn't introduce ourselves as "Hi I'm Maddo and I'm gay!" Nor did we have a GSA, but we all just were drawn to each other in a way. Being around that group of people was amazing. I was still in the closet at home, but when I was at school I wasn't afraid, and I didn't have to be.
My mom has always been someone who told my brother and me from the get-go she would love us and support us through any decision we had to make. She had gay friends and was always a clear ally. When gay marriage was legalized she texted me with so much happiness that I could feel it radiating through the message. I knew I was safe to express myself to her. Come September of 2016, I decided I was going to come out to my mom. I wrote a letter because expressing my feelings can be difficult. I started in my science class the day of my school's homecoming game because I knew I'd be out with my friends and would go to my dad's house after. I wrote it at the time thinking I was Pansexual but completely forgetting to explain what that word meant. Oops. Then right after the halftime game, my mom texted me, "I got your note I will always love you no matter what." That was an amazing feeling.
Later that year I went to Pride Fest with my mom and friend. It was so amazing and it helped me see the true and eternal beauty of the community I care so much for. We bought pins and flags and saw some questionable outfits but loved every single second of it. Now in my sophomore year of high school, I know who I am. I'm gay and I'm proud. No one can tell me otherwise. I am not out to my dad, but I don't see it as fear, or like I am hiding. I just simply stopped caring. It sounds harsh, but I realized that I don't owe anyone the explanation of who I am. I know I will tell him eventually, but it's not upsetting to me to know that he doesn't know. I think what I learned was that accepting myself is more important and should come first before anyone. If I were to tell anyone what coming out means and what you should do, it would be to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. Do it on your own terms. What we see on social media, such as, coming out stories and videos are not the only way to it. You should do what makes you feel most comfortable. I wouldn't change who I am or my life experiences for the world. I am so happy to be surrounded by amazing people in the LGBTQ+ community and well as phenomenal allies. I know that my story is just the beginning and I have so much more to learn but I am excited about everything that comes my way. I am ready to continue to be the person I have been starting to embrace since 5th grade.