I came out, publicly, a few years ago. Prior to my grand Facebook announcement, most of the people in my life already knew. Of the people that I interacted with on a regular basis, the people who were the last to know were my very Mormon parents. Although my mother had asked me point blank before if I was gay, I just wasn’t ready for a response that she wanted nothing to do with me.
But, I lucked out. My very Mormon parents still love me no matter what and just want me to be happy.
When I came out, I was still a Brigham Young University student. Since BYU is owned by the Mormon church, I was scared of coming out and what other people would think of me. I was surprised that when I came out to more and more people, it didn’t phase them.
My good friends took it in stride. It was just another part of who I was. They didn’t see it as my defining characteristic. To them, I was still the same person who was going to make really stupid puns. I was still going to quote Gilmore Girls on a regular basis. I was still going to sing showtunes at you — and probably very loudly. Nothing about who I was had changed. The only thing that changed after I came out was the way I was perceived by others.
There were those who, when I came out to them, stopped talking to me. People I had known for years actively avoided me. They started saying horrible things about me to other people behind my back. And for what? Because a piece of information they didn’t know about me previously was now shared?
Multiple women I knew told me they were now afraid that I was interested in them. I asked them if they were automatically interested in every man they see? They always told me that wasn’t the case. So why did they assume that because I like women I had the hots for them? Had I ever done anything to make them uncomfortable before? No. They were my friends. I told them that the same rules applied; plus, they were flattering themselves.
I am now 33 years old. I came out for the first time to my best friend when I was 20. In the past 13 years, a lot of things have changed; but who I am fundamentally has not. That’s why it still surprises me when I lose friends because of it — that, in 2018, people still choose to no longer associate with me when they learn that I’m gay. I won’t change who I am for anyone. I’m not ashamed of who I am. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I’m damn proud of where I’ve come from and how much I’ve grown.