I’ve known my whole life that I liked guys, but in my city, I didn’t know a single gay person. I didn’t come out until 9th grade, but only to my parents, because I thought I might literally get beat up at school if I came out to anyone my age.
It was my parents, and their amazing support, that helped me to feel free to start dating a guy I had a crush on, but I still kept it secret. After about six months together, he insisted that he didn’t want to be a secret, and we made a mutual decision. We would do what other couples do, without making a big deal about it. So next time we felt like holding hands, we did it in public, in front of everyone.
Nobody was surprised that either of us was gay, but some people are still homophobic and made fun of us, and even said threatening things. Luckily, many others supported us, and a teacher who overheard some remarks made sure that nothing like that would happen again. We were both surprised when we were asked to speak at an assembly and others from the LGBTQ community joined us. We felt so seen and supported.
Here’s why I’m glad we’re public:
- Being an openly gay couple allows you to live your truth and be proud of who you are. We did face discrimination, prejudice, and stigma but we were also able to educate others in our community and change people’s minds so they don’t harass others they’ll encounter after high school.
- Being public also means you can express your feelings for your partner instead of hiding all the time. This has allowed us to build our relationship just like other couples do.
- We also felt like role models for other people who were afraid to be open about their sexuality. After we went public, another person at our school came out for the first time.
- Because so many people who are anti-LGBTQ have unrealistic ideas and stereotypes in their heads about what someone gay is like, we feel like we’re helping to change that, and show other students that we’re not different from them.
I know not everyone will have the same experience I did, but I hope my experience inspires other people to live their truth in whatever way works for them.