I can’t recall a single moment of “coming out,” more like a string of pivotal moments. In 6th grade, I told my group of friends that I was questioning my sexuality, and suddenly I didn’t have friends anymore. In 7th grade I came out to a new group of friends, terrified of what had happened before; luckily I was accepted and loved just the same. I had to come out to my mother 3 times. Once in 7th grade, once in 8th, and finally my freshman year of high school. Every time it was, “you’re too young to know that, you’re just confused.” By high school, she seemed to realize I was serious, but her reaction wasn’t great. Her first instinct was to put me in therapy, not for conversion, but to learn how to live as a gay Catholic man. The basic teaching was that I wasn’t to ever think about another man, look at another man, or be with another man. The only provided solution was celibacy, to never have any kind of relationship the way heterosexual Catholics can. We only went there twice, and my mother seemed to realize that was unfair. We don’t talk about my sexuality much, even now.
Going into high school, I quickly developed a close group of friends. One by one, I anxiously came out to them, still not trusting that there are loving people in the world. I was lucky to be so welcomed, and by sophomore year I came out on the internet on National Coming Out Day, hoping I wouldn’t have to again. If I had to pick a single moment in which I really came out, it would be this one. Unfortunately that was just wishful thinking, because I still struggle daily when I’m talking with strangers or distant relatives. My grandmother didn’t know I was gay until last year. Her response once she found out was to start posting passive aggressive articles on my Facebook wall, articles like “man was made for woman.” I delete them from my wall more often than not, often without reading them. I don’t need to be convinced of anything. I know who I am, and I am so secure and happy in my identity now. Still, it’s hard to know these days who will be accepting of me. Situations like talking to professors about my life, or completing personal assignments for classes cause an internal battle: is it appropriate to talk about my sexuality here? It always reminds me that we as a society have come far, but we still have a long way to go; I should never have to feel like there could be something inherently inappropriate about who I am or who I love. 4 years later and I have only grown in self-acceptance and understanding more and more each year. I’m patiently waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.