My Coming Out Story
My first crush was my older sister’s boyfriend. He was 6’4” had a deep voice, and was very charming. When you’re young and don’t really understand those feelings, it’s easy to play it off and to not grasp what’s really happening. My crush was innocent and didn’t necessarily mean anything. In middle school there were boys who I would look at. I’d lay my head down as if I was resting but I’d really be peaking out of the space between my fingers at them. I told myself I was just admiring their jeans, or envying their athletic bodies and aspiring to look like them, and I had myself convinced for quite a while. I knew what it meant to be gay, because it was a big joke in the community I grew up in. My stepdad would actively use the word fag to describe men he perceived as weak or effeminate. The church I went to frequently painted that familiar fiery picture of the sodomists burning for eternity. I didn’t know why at the time, but that thought terrified me.
The 7th grade gym locker room was where I got my first real accusation as gay. My voice hadn’t dropped yet and the jocks in my class would gang up and call me little gay boy and other things. I 100% didn’t believe them or know why they thought I was gay. I had already had 3 girlfriends, maybe even more than some of them. They bullied me until one day when we were all in the showering after class and another kid popped a full on boner. After that they didn’t tease me anymore but that poor kid got picked on until High School. It was cruel and set the stage for what was to come.
By High School, I’d already internalized a lot of homophobia from my community. I knew it was a bad thing and believed gays burned in hell for their sins. Flamer and fairy were popular insults among the guys. I would say that’s so gay referring to anything I didn’t like. I even teased other kids and called them gay. I had multiple girlfriends and fully believed I was straight, but when some of the handsome athletic guys interacted with me my heart would race, and I would lose the ability to function. I got competitive with these guys and would work hard to get the fastest mile time, or get the most scores in gym class, or whatever I could do to keep up with the jocks.
In the 10th grade I moved in with my father to a new school and got a serious girlfriend. She had beautiful doe eyes and the longest wavy brown hair. She had a sweet voice and was well liked in our school, and the feelings I developed for her were real. As things progressed we decided to have sex and both lost our virginity to the other. It only took one time to know that something was not right. I turned 17 and joined the choir, where I met a loud and opinionated classmate who was the president of the choir. He was a grade above me, was unapologetic and seemed to be in command of that room without anyone questioning. I immediately felt sparks and befriended him. We would text for hours and hang out after school, but never at my house. One day, we were hanging out and neither of his parents were home. We ended up in his room on his bed and his playfulness slowly chipped away at me. I was ferociously curious knowing that he was gay. I asked him questions about how it worked and if he’d ever done IT before. He revealed to me that he had a pretty strong porn addiction and proceeded to share his collection with me and I saw things I’d never seen before. My first time with a man was not a good experience, I was not ready, but he was so pushy. I just laid there while he got on top of me. I told him no, and to stop but he didn’t listen. I froze and he forced himself on me until completion. He got what he wanted and I cried myself to sleep that night. Of course, I was curious, of course, but I wasn’t ready and I vocally told him no. His response was to pin me and force himself on me.
For days I walked the halls feeling corrupted, as if my skin was made of glass and everyone around me could see right through me. Was I bisexual? Was I going to hell? Or could God forgive me because I had resisted and didn’t want what had happened? The whole world didn’t make sense, but deep down I knew that I liked men. Around that time my father and I had a conversation, and my dad told me in exact quote “if I ever had a gay son, I would bury him in the backyard” and then he laughed and I was supposed to laugh along with him, and I did. I knew right then and there I could never talk to my dad about what had happened to me. I finished that school year in relative silence then decided to move back in with my mom.
In 11th grade I went to church a lot, and I bullied the only out gay kid in my tiny high school. I prayed the gay away nearly every day and every night, but my eyes were opened, and I knew it was all a lie. I got new friends, more accepting ones, and slowly revealed myself to them. I slowly grew a circle of supportive friends who knew I was “bisexual.” That kid I bullied would eventually become my first on the dl boyfriend. He begged me to go to homecoming with him but I absolutely refused. Word spread as it does in high school, and soon I was hearing the word “faggot” shouted across the halls at me by jocks. The popular girls started circling me in hopes of acquiring a “GBF.” My community was expanding but I simultaneously couldn’t share my truth with my family. I toyed with the idea of telling my sister and eventually did. Little did I know that coming out was a never ending process with near every person you meet. Everyone assumed I was straight unless I told them. The day came when I was 17 and I got called out of choir class by my stepfather. I walked outside the doors of the school with him when he pinned me up against the wall as he so often did, and screamed in my face and told me he heard some rumors about me that I was taking it up the ass. I didn’t even respond to him, just looked at him tears flowing and he knew.
Immediately after that moment, I moved out on my own, as a High School junior. I wasn’t kicked out on the streets, but I was so humiliated. I worked nearly full time and attended high school. I went to school early for morning show choir practice and stayed late for drama rehearsals. I was stacked and barely had a moment to sleep but I managed. My guidance counselor and principal advocated for me as a ward of the state and between them and the support of my friends I got accepted into a really nice private college. Entering college I had a lot of conflicting ideas about being gay. I still believed it was a sin, and that I was condemned to hell for it. I was bothered by feminine men, and had never even heard of a trans person. Being gay was the reason I didn’t fit in with anyone in my family, why I’d worked myself to the bone just to get myself to where I was.
A close friend of mine dragged me to a student run club called SAGA. Walking in those doors I was greeted by a loud flamboyant man who wrapped his arms around me and welcomed me. SAGA was the college’s straight and gay alliance. In that room I met the first out trans man I’d ever met. Before him I never even heard of trans. There were queers of every stripe. I was nervous but they were all so embracing. I’d never felt more loved in my life. This club became my home throughout my college years where I learned to embrace myself, leave behind the shame, and for the first time in my life feel a sense of lgbtq pride. By the end of my sophomore year I took over as co president with a mission to give back and be a welcoming force to those incoming people like me. We changed the name from straight and gay alliance to sexuality and gender alliance to make it more clear that all were welcome here. We cried and laughed together in that room, took on big issues like conversion therapy and preferred pronouns with the constant motto “love is love.” There was another group on campus that countered with the quote “sin is sin,” but our message was louder.
During winter break of my Junior year, after 4 years of having next to no contact with my mom I finally visited her. I never said the words I’m gay to her. But I expressed myself. I invited her to come to my next SAGA meeting and would make small references to my gay identity. She even briefly mentioned a time when she was younger when she had an intimate encounter with a woman. I was reintroducing her into my life, trying to figure out how she would fit into it and letting go of the trauma we went through for she had separated from my stepfather. I remember curling her hair while we watched her and my father’s wedding tape. There I was in a little basket and she looked beautiful. After Christmas break, when I returned to college, I had no clue these would be the last moments I’d ever have with my mom. In February, a month after her 40th birthday she killed herself after struggling with mental illness for many years. She never made it to my SAGA meeting and I never got the chance to fully be myself with her, but I was close and for that I’m grateful.
When my mom died I lost my ability to function for months. I couldn’t focus in school and I desperately needed a change so I packed my things, moved to Seattle, and never looked back. In this city I found a queer safety net beyond what I ever imagined to exist. I could walk the streets in a crop top or kiss my lover in broad daylight without getting a second look from passerby. At 22, I found my first serious boyfriend. We moved in together and made a home and I fell madly for him. Through everything I still had never came out to my father, but now I was sharing pictures on social media of me with my boyfriend that my dad could see. Those words rang on in my head, “if I ever had a gay son I would bury him in the back yard.” It wasn’t until I was 24 that my dad finally broke that wall and asked how my boyfriend was doing. His heart had slowly changed over the years.
Today I have more pride than ever before. I try to be authentically me in all aspects of my life, from work to family to the public eye. I make positive youtube videos that inspire people to get out and live their lives to the fullest. At Seattle Pride this year I’m wearing a crop top. I’ll probably have my jockstrap peaking out of the top of my shorts as I walk down Capitol Hill with my date who I’m trying to convince to wear a harness. My hope is that by being visible in my identity I can pave the way for a more embracing society. I see a lot has changed in a short time, but there’s still a long road ahead. I acknowledge the countless before me who lost homes, family members, and lives to discrimination and am grateful for how far we’ve come as a community, stronger together.