I grew up in an ultra religious home and my earliest memories or church and family was that being gay is a huge sin…

I never really considered I was gay growing up because I was always told how bad being gay was and I really denied all my feelings. However, my first real crush was on my church’s youth group teacher. I would work extra hard all week to memorize verses just to impress her!

I wanted to be like everyone else in high school and have a date for dances and prom, but never dated seriously because I was too busy with sports and school. My senior year I started dating a guy long distance. I spent less than 6 months with him over the 4 years we dated and when we moved in together I knew things weren’t right so I ended it. It was really hard hurting someone that I cared about but I knew I needed to explore feelings that I continued to have.

I secretly went on dates with some girls and had started to become more comfortable with myself and then my brother came out to my parents.. They would talk to me about how disappointed they were or what “caused his lifestyle.” This really caused me to step back because I was scared of their reaction to me…

Fast forward 2 more years of unhappy relationship and I had to make a change. Living with my secret almost killed me. I struggled with thoughts of suicide and I knew I had to be true to myself or I wouldn’t survive.

I casually dated women and only told my closest sister. In September 2017, I went on a date with my now fiancé. The moment I met her I knew she was special. I finally felt that the hole in my heart was filled and when things got serious I finally came out to my parents. They were far from impressed but I was not willing to hide the women that I wanted to marry.

It took me 25 years to come out. I have regrets and thoughts that I wish I would’ve saved myself a lot of hurt by doing it earlier. I have to remind myself that things always happen for a reason. I can honestly say that I am out and PROUD now.