When I was asked to write a piece about my 'coming out' story, first of all, I flashed back to all the years I spent dwelling on the thought of telling anyone that I was gay. My teenage years were pretty brutal, hiding such a big part of my identity to the most important people in my life wasn't easy. Hence, why I choose to think of my 'coming out' story, more as one of 'becoming me'—because there was a rainbow at the end of my experience.
I knew I was gay from a pretty young age, it wasn’t one of those "experimental teenage" phases for me. I was bullied a lot at the start of high school for being heavily involved in the performing and creative arts. That lead me to fall further behind in my self-confidence. I hung out with the nerdy group of kids, had incredible grades but a pretty quiet social life. It was up until I hit the tenth grade when we were asked by our PDHPE teachers to create a group dance assessment (then perform it in front of the entire year) that really allowed me to come out of my shell.
This physical exercise was more of an emotional exercise for me; it broke down so many barriers that had been cemented strongly in my earlier teenage years.
The real me was starting to open up, and it was such a dramatic change in my life. I still hadn’t told anyone I was gay, but my personality finally had air to breathe (there’s lots of it!). I was no longer afraid of what people thought of me, and this resulted in meeting a lot of like-minded people who I then came out to, knowing that they’d keep it to themselves.
When I turned 18 (just before completing the HSC), my close friends convinced me to go to a gay bar. Little, un-outed me was terrified, to the point that I nearly threw up in the toilets when we arrived. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that someone my family knew might have been there. Luckily that night, there wasn’t. It took some months for me to feel comfortable going into that bar without having that thought in the back of my mind. It then got to the stage where I knew it was time for me to have that conversation with my family.
I knew exactly how I was going to stage it, but they don’t call it "coming out" for no reason.
It. literally. Came. Out.
It was a weekday and I’d just returned home from work when I had this overwhelming feeling come over me. To this day, I’ve never experienced such a feeling. My mum asked how was I was, she knew something wasn’t right. I started to get emotional and went to my room to brush it off, but it only got worse. Mum came in to check on me, and by this stage I was an emotional wreck. She put her arm around me and asked if I was OK—she’d noticed that I hadn’t been myself for a while. This then lead to a downfall of tears from both of us, I finally said the words I’d dreaded my entire life.
"I’m gay". That moment was unlike anything I’d experienced before. The biggest weight lifted off my shoulders. I’d said it, and there was no way of returning back from it. Mum gave me the biggest hug, "this doesn’t matter, I’ll always love you!"—the words any young man wants to hear from his mother at such a tender moment in his life.
Dad arrived home shortly after with bloodshot eyes, I could tell he’d been crying. We had a massive chat, there was so much for him to process and I understood that. I had the conversation (with my parents) when I was younger about homosexuality because of the bullying I got, but I always denied it. The love and support I got from my parents, family and friends was incredible, I finally was the young man I’d only dreamed about becoming!
I have a very close bond with my parents and two older brothers, and I’m not sure if it would be this way if I was still "in the closet". I don’t take my experience for granted what so ever. I understand that for some, the journey of coming out can be quite difficult. But for any LGBTQI readers, I hope this shines light to your experience if you are going through any confusion with your sexuality. We live in a time that is so welcoming of our difference, and being your true self is the best thing you can do.