COLUMN: Don’t be afraid to come out
At 15 years old, a few of my friends began ‘experimenting’ and being curious with one another, as most preteens are.
For me, this innocent curiosity turned into something more.
I became very attracted to a senior transfer student who joined the cheerleading team, and we quickly became more than friends.
At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t feel differently, I didn’t think differently, I was still me. I was attracted to a cute blonde cheerleader and went to football games to cheer her on instead of the players on the field.
Until she cheated on me.
I was devastated. My first girlfriend, who was also the first person I had ever kissed, broke my heart into pieces and resulted in me playing The Spill Canvas on repeat for weeks on end.
Was this only an experiment like all my other friends claimed it was? Or, was I really attracted to women?
My questions were answered the following spring, in the form of an attractive red head who I fell head over heels for (we are no longer together today, but remain close friends).
We began dating in secret, as her family was very conservative. I was raised in the Catholic church and didn’t know how my parents would react., either. We slept over at each other’s houses, went to movies and I accompanied her almost every Saturday as she spent endless hours at the mall trying on shoes. I was happy with my new girlfriend, in control of my feelings and my life, and considered telling my parents Robin and I were more than friends.
But then my mom came out for me.
I remember the car ride home from dropping Robin off as if it had happened yesterday. She had spent the night at my house, and I rode with my mom to bring her home in the morning.
We pulled out of the driveway, and I could tell my mom was trying to say something to me. She and I share the same sense of humor, and as she stopped at a stop sign, she turned to me and said, “At least we don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancies.”
I sat in shock.
She followed up and said, “I know you’re gay, and it’s OK. I still love you.”
One of my aunts is gay, as well as one of my mom’s uncles. My mom grew up with her older sister and saw the negativity she experienced in the 1970s and 80s when being out wasn’t as accepted as it is now, so she could understand why I was hesitant in saying anything. My mom reinforced the fact that being gay doesn’t change who you are; you can’t change it, but that you do need to learn to love and accept yourself, no matter who you’re attracted to.
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