On “National Coming Out Day” we wanted to share a few brave stories from three inspiring souls. Stories of authenticity, self empowerment, self acceptance and the journey of coming out and living in your truth. Thank you for inspiring us all!
My name is Craig, I’m 25 years old, and I am gay male. As much as I joke about being a strong, independent woman, I identify as being a male. People often ask me when I knew I was gay, and the truth is, I’ve always known I was different. And while I truly do believe all human beings unique in our own way, I always had different interests than boys my own age. Boys my age typically wanted to play sports, get dirty, play with action figures, etc. I always wanted to try on my mom’s pink high heels, play with the Barbie’s at my Grandma’s house, and listen to my cassettes. As I got to the beginning of high school, I realized I just wasn’t attracted to girls. Thankfully, I never tried to date a girl because I can’t even imagine how disastrous that would be.
I eventually knew that I had to tell my family and friends, and I was terrified. I had to be honest with myself because I was miserable and lonely lying to others and myself. When I was a freshman in high school, I ended up telling some of my closest friends first. They reacted really well – most likely because they already knew. Either way, it was a big relief, and it was definitely the confidence boost I needed.
This is where my story differs from some of other members of the LGBT community because my brother is also gay. It’s just the two of us, so my parents took that pretty hard. My brother came out to my dad several years prior, and my dad did not handle it well. Without going into too much detail, my dad basically screamed at my brother and said, “I can’t believe we raised a fucking faggot.” It broke my heart to see that happen. How was I supposed to tell my parents anything after that?
I didn’t end up telling my parents I was gay until I was 21. My family has this really weird unspoken rule that we don’t like to talk about anything personal, which is really hard for me because I am such an open book. I am so open to a fault. It’s just who I am and I have accepted it now, but I used to be ashamed of that part of myself because it was so off putting to my family. Anyway, I was surprised I even had to come out to my parents because it was pretty obvious that I was gay. The whole world knew before I even told them – how could my own parents not know? It goes to show that people see what they want to see. It also goes to show that everyone has a different perception of who you are. People highlight different qualities of your personality since they are seeing you from a different lens than you see yourself. So after I told them, my dad actually didn’t say much, which was really surprising. He didn’t say the awful things to me he had said to my brother. He mostly just cried and said, “I can’t believe both of my sons are gay.” I was still living at home at the time this all happened, and we never really talked about it much after that. I ended up moving out the following year.
My parents and I had kept a relationship that was very superficial over the next few years. At the beginning of last year, I went over to my parents’ house and told them I wanted them to meet the guy I was dating, and my dad said no. His exact words were, “I can’t. I won’t. It makes me sick. I don’t accept your lifestyle.” My mother was upset he said those things and said she wanted me to meet someone, but she never made a conscious effort to meet my boyfriend either. It really hurt. But even though it hurt, I was happy I stuck up for myself. I had no control of how they would react, but it took courage to be able to stand up for what I wanted. It was also a sad realization accepting the fact that my parents are never going to be the people I need them to be. However, that doesn’t mean other people can’t be there for me, and I have some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.
With everything that has happened, I have a lot more confidence now than I ever have. I really now only surround myself with the people who make me feel like the best version of myself, which is something I couldn’t have had done if I hadn’t come out of the closet. I am really proud of coming out and because it has allowed for me to be the most authentic person I can be. There is a level of depth that comes along with struggle, and I wouldn’t change it because it truly has made me empathize with those who are suffering on a much deeper level. I have met people who have great relationships with their families and haven’t struggled the way I have, and while I am happy they haven’t gone through those things, I can’t relate to them on a spiritual level. There’s a depth and a paradigm shift that just isn’t there when you haven’t struggled, and I know my struggles have been really pivotal to how I have been shaped as a human being. There can definitely be a lot of negative things that arise from coming out because not everyone is going to have the same values as you. Even though there are many people who don’t agree with my lifestyle, I have met so many amazing friends that support me and share the same values with me. I truly believe the energy you give out is what you attract, and I am proud that the energy I am giving out is attracting some pretty wonderful people.
As cliche as it may sound, I have always known that I am gay. When I was younger, I was always far more interested in forming any sort of bond with the women I came across than I ever was with men. My bedroom walls were plastered with posters of beautiful female celebrities; which of course is not as common for a teenage girl rather than to have boy band posters everywhere. I never really payed too much attention to this, it wasn’t something I even thought about until I was 14. This is when I properly realised but at this point I didn’t want anyone to know so I tried my best to ignore it. I was overwhelmingly embarrassed and feared rejection from loved ones and close friends.
Each day I became unhappier and began to hate myself more and more. I was confused, I didn’t want to be gay. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to accept myself because I was too afraid of letting my true self be free. I became consumed by the worry that somebody would find out this “big secret” that I was trying desperately to hide. This went on for years, I would take this hatred out on myself in anyway I could. I tried to change, tried to force myself to be more interested in boys but of course it didn’t work. I was trying to force myself to be someone that I wasn’t.
I realised that I couldn’t change myself in the way I was trying to but I could instead accept myself. So that is what I did. The first step was admitting it to myself and after that, I began to be honest with the people around me and the honesty felt so freeing! I learned then that there was nothing to be ashamed of. I didn’t always have positive reactions but I learned who my strongest support system was and who I could lean on.
The journey to accepting myself has been so liberating. However, learning how to feel empowered in telling those close to me has not always been easy. As of now, I haven’t told my parents. I’m almost certain they know, I can tell. My mum always asks me, “Do you have a boyfriend yet? Or a girlfriend? Because that’s okay too. Do you prefer girls?”. Each time I answer no. Just because I’m not 100% ready to tell her yet. Maybe that time will come soon or maybe it’ll take a little longer but whenever it happens, I no longer fear for her disappointment or hatred because I know it’s nonexistent. She loves me, and will always love me, for who I am. Just as I’ve learned to do in my journey of coming out.
I’m a 30 year old man, living comfortably in London surrounded by friends and family that support my lifestyle and me being gay. However it was not always that way…
Growing up I was very flamboyant and feminine and naturally chose to play with barbie dolls and anything pink and glittery (much to my families dislike). The first feeling I had that I was gay was when I very young, it wasn’t a sexual thing but I instinctively found myself drawn to male characters in TV shows and not the women.
I think this is the reason I struggled with confidence issues later in life. When I was younger I was never truly allowed to be me, when I took that control back I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
I wouldn’t describe my family as homophobic but they didn’t understand why someone would be gay or like seeing it. I remember watching TV and a gay couple would make an appearance and my family would all moan that they didn’t need to see that. My uncle was also gay, this was not an open topic in our family. I didn’t find out about this until I was in my teens.
It was during a family party that my cousins cornered me and asked if I was gay. I wasn’t embarrassed about it so told them the truth and said yes. The news of course got straight back to my mum, “I don’t know why you can come out to everyone else but not to me” was her first response. Two years went by until we spoke about the subject again. This was the first time I brought a guy home. I was so nervous about him meeting my family but they accepted him straight away.
Although how I came out wasn’t ideal as I didn’t get to decide how and when I did it, I feel that me being gay is teaching my parents new life lessons. We’ve all learnt from each other and feel as a family we have shifted into a more understanding, loving place.