October 11th was National Coming Out Day which marks the anniversary of the National March in Washington for Gay and Lesbian rights.
October 15th is Spirit Day and was started to support LGBTQ youth and to take a stand against bullying. The color purple is used because it represents spirit on the rainbow flag.
I am proud that the month I came into this world is LGBTQ History Month.
As I have written before, I have struggled with my own identity and coming to terms with the fact that I am gay. That is why I work now to share my story to let the youth of my community know that it is okay to be yourself, that you can still be successful and happy. Though times are much better than they were, that does not mean that there has been an end to bullying. Today more than ever it is more important to stand up and be proud of who you are. To never let anyone tell you how you should act – feel – be – live.
When I hid in the closet, I was a miserable human being. I was a shell of my true self. I didn’t like who I was. I wasn’t happy or fun to be around. It was no way to live and I am happy that I eventually came to terms with who I truly am and am living my life the way I was intended to live it.
There is nothing more sad to me to know someone who is hiding their true identity, as I once did. Which is why I appreciate days like National Coming Out Day and Spirit Day to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community. For those of us who are out and proud, it is even more important to stand up on days like this and be proud of who we are.
My coming out story was a very long journey. I first recognized that I was gay in high school around the age of 15. It was scary and untreaded waters for me. I had no gay role models, no gay family members or gay family friends. The only queer things I had access to where the limited amount of gay references on T.V. or celebrities like Ellen. I didn’t know how to feel or where to turn to. I eventually found a small group of friends who also were gay and we stood strong together and supported each other through the years of high school. But I ended up doing something stupid, I stopped listening to my heart and my head and I went back into the closet before college and starting dating a boy.
For the rest of college, I did the whole “straight” thing and I failed miserably. When I graduated, I ended up coming out again, for the second time. I never have felt so stupid in my life. I had known who I was when I was younger, but I didn’t listen to myself. I focused on what “should” be versus what was. Looking back, I wouldn’t take away my journey. Every step along the way brought me to where I am today. It gave me the strength to stand tall – to say “yes, I am gay” – to cut my hair – to wear the clothes I want to wear – to fall in love with a beautiful girl – to propose to her in front of all of our family and friends.
There is no reason to be ashamed of who you are, or how you got there and I shouldn’t be either. There are millions of people just like me who have struggled. The more we share our stories, the more it will help our youth to see #itgetsbetter. We as humans need to accept all humans for who they are. No matter their identity, their sexual orientation, or their gender. We have to listen to others and understand who they are and stand together. Even those in our own community, because we can sometimes be the most guilty of bullying our own.
Today, take a second to share your story, take the time to share it out loud with someone. You never know who it will help with their own identify or their own confusion. Feel free to even share it here, or with me personally.
Be Proud. Be True. Be You.