Before Coming Out, when I was young, I never knew what ‘gay‘ actually meant. I always assumed it was someone who was mentally ill or didn’t act normal. It was especially brutal being called gay because no child knew what it meant really and they learned it as a slur most likely from the people around them. It was something I never wanted to be. I distanced myself from anyone who would talk like that to the point where I didn’t have many friends. I’m sure almost everyone had been called gay as a child but it’s worse when you know there’s an element of truth to it. All I could see in the news was how bad it was to be gay, how it gave you diseases and ruined families and how it made you a target of abuse.
Throughout high school I was acutely aware that being gay wasn’t a choice. I never understood dating and why guys bothered with it when it felt so distant or like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit properly. I specifically remember going to discos, where I would kiss and feel absolutely nothing from it. This was a goal for my friend group and I only ever did it to fit in – this is when I knew something about me was fundamentally different from them.
During high school, I’d distract myself by drawing and getting into art. It was something I could control even if I couldn’t control the feelings I had. It helped me keep myself together and it also let me express myself even if I couldn’t do much with the people around me at the time. I spent a while on my own until I found groups online on apps with people my age. We all made artwork and played online games for a while, it was only when we opened up a little that I realised I felt the same. They talked about their experience and coming out; a lot of it made sense to me. This was the start of my realisation who I was and what I wanted with my life.
Although I did go through the rest of high school “in the closet”, I knew I wanted to do art. I trusted the community and I knew for someone to be into art they had to be off the beaten path and more open minded. It was an eye opener how many people I knew from high school had come out. Some were very popular. It was Christmas when I came out to my mum. It went well, although I could’ve done a better job at it since she thought I did something very bad and panicked a little. Things were a little off for a while because my mum thought I didn’t want to be gay; she thought it was a phase and that I shouldn’t know I’m gay at the age of 16. It could’ve gone much worse. My mum never acted against me or argued about it. She has since fully accepted me after settling with the information for a while.
I started to know people who were gay, too, and had similar experiences. It was like we all went through it and Coming Out together, silently, and I feel better knowing I was never truly alone through this.
My final advice would be to stay with the friends who won’t judge you. Stay with the ones who care and don’t use cruel “banter” as a basis of your friendship. Befriending open minded people will let you express your feelings openly and you’ll be surprised how universal these feelings can be.