Growing up, my sexuality wasn’t really a concern for me. I had feelings for guys, but I never really read into them as anything out of the norm. It wasn’t until I went into junior high and all my friends started dating, that I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but I wouldn’t fully realize that until eighth grade.
In eighth grade, I met a guy that made things clearer. It never crossed to be anything more than a crush, but that’s when I knew for certain that I was gay. I then went on a binge of “coming out story” videos on YouTube, trying to make my own plan of attack. I was pretty nervous what my family would think of me. My parents, particularly my dad, had always shown a level of homophobia. When summer came, I eventually worked up the nerve to come out to one of my best friends. She lived pretty far away, so I decided there was little risk in telling her, but I was honestly surprised at how good it felt. Suddenly I had someone that I didn’t have to hide anything from, and I loved the feeling. Maybe soon I could work up the courage to have a conversation with my parents about it. That’s not what happened.
In December of my freshman year, I came out to my family in a fight. A fight about scarves. Let me explain. My sister and I went to a Christmas play together, and, there was a guy there who was wearing a scarf. I thought the scarf was cute. As we drove home from the show, my sister asked me if I knew what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted a scarf. She told me that scarves made you look gay. This, for obvious reasons, offended me. First, I tried to tell her that she’s just wrong. She told me that she thinks so, so any of the girls I’d want to date would think the same. I told her that I wouldn’t care because it looks good, and then I asked what’s the problem with being perceived as gay. She didn’t understand why I was trying to defend gay people, and since we were home at this point, I told her that “People like you are why so many gay people want to kill themselves.” and I went into my room and slammed the door. Right about then is when she made the connection and went to talk to my parents. I was stressed about her telling my parents, so I took a shower. Nobody could talk to me if I was in the shower. Once I realized that I was in there too long, I got out and got dressed, and my parents came to talk to me.
It went better than I had imagined. They weren’t all for it initially, suggesting that I don’t act on the feelings and try to be a “gay Mormon”. It took them a bit to fully understand that that wasn’t how I planned to live, but they’ve come around by this point in my life.
As I’ve gone through the rest of my high school career, friends that I’d had for years have since come out to me. I quickly realized just how “not alone” I am. I was able to build a strong support for myself, which has only grown as I’ve found out about things like Affirmation and Encircle. I’ve been able to be an inspiration to friends and family to live more authentically just by being me, and I think that's really cool. My journey isn’t over yet, but I’m excited to see where it takes me.