Coming out with a secret

Monday, February 18, 2019 - 12:55pm

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Design by Christine Jegarl

Imagine having a secret for most of your life you have wanted to tell someone for so long, but are afraid of what might happen if you share it. This was me. Until today. Today, I am going to stop feeling alone, and embrace who I am as a person — I am gay. This is something I’ve known for a very long time, but have been too afraid to share.

Ever since I was young, I had a plan for my future. I imagined having a loving wife, happy kids and a fitting job. My plan was detailed in this way because this is what I was exposed to throughout my childhood from television programs, friends and social media. Growing up, I always liked guys as friends but it took me some time to realize it wasn’t only as friends — I had feelings for them, too. During my junior year of high school, I started to have the idea I was gay. But when I would have this thought, I immediately tried to deny it, as I knew this “plan” would not be able to exist. I thought if I was openly gay, it would be impossible to find love or a secure job. This state of denial that I was in lasted for many years. Until very recently, actually. And one of the reasons I believe this denial lasted so long is because I did not, and still do not, identify with how the media portrays gay people.

In television, movies, interviews and social media, gay people are all seen in a similar fashion. They are portrayed with a feminine look, their only interests revolve around the arts and they only have only female friends. While some gay men do identify with this description, I believe there is much more than one personality type for a sexuality. You can carry some of these traits, or none of them at all. While I am still a fan of Broadway (typically seen as an effeminate trope), I also enjoy sports, as well as hanging out with guys — more typically masculine traits. And because the media views gay men with one specific label, so does the public, who interact with different forms of media on a daily basis. Even though there are plenty of people who can relate to this characterization, I cannot. Until I got to the University of Michigan, I only saw people who are gay in one light.

Finding my place at the University, as well as my group of friends, allowed me to feel more like myself. And while that helped, I always thought there was something missing — something I was hiding from the people around me. And over the past two years at the University, I discovered new aspects of my personality, and now my sexuality. But now that I have discovered this new part of who I am, I want the world to know I am the same person as before.

Many times when people “come out” to the world, people look at and treat them differently because of their sexuality. I have to admit, there was a point in time where I may have been guilty of doing the same. But I want to say to my friends, family and to the world, that being gay may change my sexuality, but it does not change who I am as a person — I am still me.

I am still going to have the same friends who will support me through difficult times I will face down the road. I am still going to dress the same as I did yesterday. I am still going to enjoy yelling at Michigan football games when Shea Patterson makes a bad play. But the biggest difference between yesterday and today is that I am open about a secret I have not only been hiding from the world, but also from myself.

I will be straightforward and say the next few months will be an adjustment. Not only for me, but also for my family and friends. Yes, there are people who may have had an idea for some time that I might be gay, but I am sure some people who I interact with on a daily basis would not have expected it. By sharing my secret with the world, I hope I will be able to ease my anxieties and worries about keeping this secret from practically everyone.

For years, I never told anyone about my sexuality. I interacted with people every day, and I felt like there was something missing. But I am happy to say that I have decided to finally be true to myself and to stop pretending to be someone I’m not. I now realize there is not one description of what being gay is supposed to look like. There are millions of different labels and every person has their own. I spent a long time in denial about something that makes up a major part of who I am as an individual, but today I am proud to have “come out” to the world about who I really am.