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– At 6 years old I read poetry in front of classmates and parents for a class project. I attended Catholic school, was a 30-year-old in a 6-year-old’s body, and loved to dance and sing. — In 6th grade, I was taught by a tall, scary man who spoke loudly to get his point across. He scared the younger kids but I grew to enjoy his loud enthusiasm and I knew he was a kind soul who just wanted to build strong, hard-working, and dedicated students.

– At age 16, I discovered how bad depression could get and realized maintaining friendships was difficult. I survived sophomore year’s endless Sweet 16 parties, got my first boyfriend, and navigated my way somewhat successfully to being an upperclassman.

– 6 years after 6th grade, I graduated high school with great memories and completely awful struggles because being a teenager is difficult. Senior year was filled with some drama, terrible disagreements, great resolutions, sad goodbyes, happy beginnings, and so much more. Being a teenager is really difficult. Did I mention that already?

– Then, in 2016, I dropped out of college during my first semester because that thing called depression struck again. I never really dealt with it properly the first time around. This time would be different. I got the help I needed and I worked on myself. Things got better thanks to a great therapist, an amazing family, and some awesome friends.

6 months into 2017 was when everything really started to change…
On June 1st, 2017, I came out as gay to my family and friends.
While I was one of the lucky ones who experienced no hatred from others upon revealing my true self, I still struggled internally with my identity even though I was confident in saying I was gay. What I mean is, saying I was gay felt right and true but actually living out my life as a gay individual, felt so strange. I was still slightly ashamed of it. It was kind of like beginning a new relationship with someone filled with sweaty palms, awkward conversations, and lots of butterflies. Over time, though, I have come to fully love myself, my identity, and everything that comes with it. I have realized that what other people think about me does not really matter. In fact, I’ve realized that I don’t care what other people think of me because I have enough pride within me to fuel all of my hopes and dreams for the future. Since coming out a year ago, my days have become brighter and my world has become more colorful. I am no longer ashamed to admit I am gay and my advice to anyone struggling with their identity is to first admit it to yourself. Once you feel comfortable admitting your identity to yourself, tell one other person. If that felt okay, tell another and just keep taking it day by day, person by person, until you can live your truth everywhere and anywhere.

Being gay is okay. It doesn’t make me any different a person. I still believe kindness is cool. I still love my friends, past and present, and my family just the same, if not more. I think coming out is weird but it felt good to let people know who I am. I know it can be hard to understand it all. Sometimes people always know their sexuality while others grow into it as they experience life. For me, I admitted it to myself once I had time to really evaluate my life and focus on myself. Once I admitted it to myself, I sent a few texts and told the people important to me because it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Once I told one person, though, I couldn’t stop. It felt so good to tell people because I grew prouder and prouder with each person I told. Sure, it was scary at first but I ultimately knew that I was going to be gay with or without people’s permission so I just wanted my friends and family to know as soon as I did because I care about them and I didn’t want to struggle to keep a secret from them; I am an awful secret-keeper especially when it comes to good news and in my very biased opinion, being gay is a cause for celebration.

You see, I am not different than any other person because I am gay. I am different because we are all different. I am just a normal 19 year-old. I started college again and I worked hard, made the Dean’s List both semesters, got a job, did volunteer work, and life has been good. So cheers to another year out of the closet! May it be even better than the last.

Celebrate pride this month with OH! We are full of pride and we welcome EVERYONE with OPEN arms! We need to come together because unfortunately, not everyone has a coming out story with a happy ending. We still have to fight for equality and that cannot be accomplished without allies all around the world. So no matter what your identity is, always speak up for others, educate yourselves about foreign topics, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I might be gay but in the end, I am “Only Human.”

Story submitted by Tess