“I was seven years old and I was watching a movie with my mom – it was called Talladega Nights. He had won the big race of the movie, and he was super happy, so he came out of his car and kissed his manager. My first thought was ‘Oh, I like that, that is cute,’ so I became more engrossed in the movie. From that point on, I knew I was different from other kids – from other guys at least.
It felt imprinted on me – because I saw it so young, I grew up thinking it was normal. To me, it was like a starting handbook saying ‘this is okay,’ so that is what I believed. In middle school, I was more introverted and became exposed to the talk of other kids mocking gay people – which scared me. Before sophomore year, I was really worried with what people thought of me. My sister always told me ‘just be yourself,’ and I wish I had taken her advice sooner.
I recently came out to my mom this year, and she took it really well actually. In the back of your mind, there is always doubt over whatever you do. I thought, ‘what if I get disowned for telling her this?’ At one point she just laughed and said ‘why didn’t you tell me sooner?’ I’m open about it, but I don’t go out of my way to let everyone know. It is hard to declare that you’re gay because once you say it, you can’t take it back – and it is hard in high school. You’re in an environment where it is really easy to judge people, so when you are given a label, it becomes easy to judge a person off of that.
Over the summer, I went to church camp. I admitted to my counselor that I was gay and it actually helped me affirm some things. On one the last few days of camp, another counselor pulled me aside to talk and she told me that last year, she realized she was bisexual and had recently come to terms with it. She is 26 years old and it really showed me that no matter how old you are, there is always something you can learn about yourself. I feel like people take that for granted. They get so caught up in ‘Oh this is me, this is who I am,’ so when something different pops up, they reject it.
I feel like normally, being gay would be okay if there wasn’t this heteronormative culture. For many people, once they see the LGBTQ+ label on someone, it’s hard–if not impossible–for them to look past that label. Sure, being gay is part of who I am, but it’s not the only thing that defines me. I’m a human too. I eat, I sleep, I laugh, I cry, I struggle, I persevere. I believe that if people got a chance to really get to know me, they would be able to see that too.
The pastor from camp said that we really need to learn from the LGBT community. He touched on the fact that they aren’t doing anything harmful or disruptive. He also said they do what we should be doing better than we do by always welcoming people no matter who they are, because they are the outcast. They know what it is like to be outcasts in society.”