Today is National Coming Out Day and I have to say, coming out was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It wasn't easy growing up gay in a suburb of Northwestern Pennsylvania. In fact, I didn't actually know what being gay meant until I heard someone use the word "faggot" around me. It was in elementary school.
Even though I still didn't fully understand what that meant, it was a word that burned itself into my mind for years.
When I finally figured out what was meant by it, it was crushing. Why do people hate those that are different from them? Deep down, I always knew that I was different. I liked playing with my Spice Girl dolls and drawing elaborate costumes for my video game characters. But why would people hate me for it?
While I didn't come out officially until after high school, I had developed a strong support system with my best girl friends and it was one of the first times I felt a family outside of my own.
My parents and siblings have always been very open and accepting of me. My sister was the first person of my direct family that I told and she helped me develop the courage to tell the rest.
It was so freeing to be completely open and honest with my family AND myself. I know not everyone has this immediate support and that makes me super sad.
I was my whole, vulnerable, weird, obsessive compulsive, creative, quirky, anxiety-ridden, Spice Girl loving self. And it was amazing.
Fast forward a few more years and gay bowling tournaments later, I found the people that would ultimately become another extension of my family.
I'm not sure where this is going, but I guess the point is this: loving your life as your authentic self is freeing and sometimes scary. But I never, for a second, regretted the decision to come out.
As gay people, we get to choose our families. If your home life isn't a supporting environment for you, get out of there. Find your family. They're out there.
I dream a day when it doesn't have to be like this, that everyone is celebrated regardless of their sexuality, color of their skin, gender, ethnicity. But this is what we have right now. And it's up to us to create that world we want to see. 🏳️🌈