This is my story as a 16-year-old, partly-closeted teenage gay male.
You might be wondering what I mean by “partly-closeted, and I’ll tell you. I have come out to about 20 people in total, including my sister and parents. And I guess I just kind of planned on telling my close family members and my close friends. Then a few less close friends, and I really did think that at least one of them would tell other people, and then they would tell more and it would get out. Essentially I was planning on a planned/forced outing of myself. You’re also probably wondering why I would do that to myself, seeing as an outing is most teenaged gay kids’ worst fear. Well I guess it just seemed easier to me.
I’m a pretty awkward person, and I’m really just not great with intimate human interaction, and if you’re outed then I feel like people are less likely to talk to you about it if they don’t think that it was something they were supposed to know. So I told most of my friends and I figured if I was to be outed I should probably tell my parents and sister. So I did, and it sucked telling them. I told my sister, and she reacted pretty well to it, or I thought she did, we’ll get back to that later though.
So she knew, and I felt bad that she had to keep the secret from our parents, so I told my mom. I now realize that I wasn’t ready and I probably should’ve waited a little longer. I guess I just thought that maybe she had picked up on it a bit maybe? Maybe that’s unfair, but I had been dropping not so subtle hints for the past few weeks. And I had never had a girlfriend through my entire life, and at this point I’m a sophmore in high school. Also I have always gotten along with girls better and made friends with them way easier. I’ve never liked sports or been into any of the things that are stereotypically “guy things.” I’ve slept over at girls’ houses, and I’m always the only guy in a group of girls, and she knows that they are all just my best friends.
I thought that all of these things would give her at least an idea, or maybe a suspicion, so she wouldn’t be as shocked when I told her. So I told her. And I was very wrong. She was completely shocked. She cried when I told her, and she has cried about it every time we’ve talked about it since.
A few days later she told me I had to tell my dad because it was killing her to keep it from him. She also told me that I had to tell my dad. This was absolutely terrifying to me because me and my dad have never had a great relationship. I’ve never been able to talk to him, and we’re pretty much polar opposites. He’s a firefighter and has always wanted me to do things like wrestling, and he loves sports and wants me to have guy friends and stuff. So the prospect of telling him petrified me. She told me I had to tell him in the next week at the latest.
I had managed to tell both my mom and my sister face to face, but I just couldn’t with my dad. I wasn’t ready to tell him at all to be completely honest. But i didn’t want to affect my parents relationship and make it worse than I already had by telling her. So I wrote a letter to him and left it at home with her to give to him while I was at school. I was so nervous the entire day at school, waiting for the text that would say she had given it to him. I finally got it towards the end of the day. I told her I had to stay after school to take a test or something to delay the inevitable conversation the would have to be had once I got home.
I got home and he wasn’t there. He was at the gym, so I went into my room and spent basically the remainder of the night hiding, watching Netflix by myself. Eventually he came in, and he told me that he had gotten it, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He said that I was too young to know that I was, and that I would probably just grow out of it eventually, so I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about it (they didn’t know that the majority of my friend group already knew about it) and that is all me and my dad have talked about it since then.
My mother also told me that my sister, who I thought had a good reaction and was totally okay with it, had been a wreck after I told her. She had emailed the psych teacher that she was really close to as soon as I told her and she had gone in early to school the next morning and balled her eyes out talking to her about it because she didn’t have anyone else to talk to about it. She told me that my sister has been super uncomfortable ever since I told her since she couldn’t talk to my mom about it, and she made me feel super selfish and guilty for putting her in that situation and not telling my parents sooner.
I felt like I was ruining my family and I should’ve just kept it to myself. I had always heard that no matter the reaction your parents have, you will feel a huge sense of relief once it’s done because it’s out there. I would like to say that that is bullshit. Nothing felt better. It felt like my entire carefully-constructed world was crumbling around me, and ever since I’ve just been trying to rebuild it. But it feels like I’m the only one trying.
My sister and I talk about it occasionally, but mostly just pretend it isn’t a thing. Me and my mom haven’t talked about it since I told my dad, and the one conversation with my dad is the only one I’ve ever had with him about it. Things have been kinda weird ever since. They try to make it seem like normal, but it’s like the way things were before was broken and now there is no fixing it. Anyways, that’s the family situation.
Back to the friend situation. Before I had told my parents, there were only like 5 close friends that knew, and I proceeded to tell the other 15 after. But I guess I underestimated the integrity of my friends. There have only been a few people who have told anyone, and those were contained and it didn’t spread like I had originally planned. And now at this point I’ve told about every one of my friends I would be comfortable telling personally and it still hadn’t come out.
I then accidentally have made friends with a lot of republican conservatives, and so at this point if it comes out at all during high school it will be a lot more catastrophic than if I had been outed towards the beginning. Now I really don’t know what to do. I want to be out and have it just be a thing that I am and have always been. Rather than it being something I have to tell people and explain. Plus, there is the added complication that if it does happen to slip out and people find out, my dad will be pissed because he thinks it is just a phase. I think at this point I just have to tough it out through the last two years of high school, and then just start out college being gay.
I plan to go to college far away from here, so I won’t really have to deal with these types of people. If you’re wondering what I mean by “these types of people,” I will explain. I live in a small town in Wisconsin, that has a total of about eight thousand people. Half of these eight thousand people are hicks, and almost everyone is super religious, conservative, and republican. So I plan on going to college in Hawaii or California where people are more accepting. All of my friends that I have told have been totally supportive of it and are fine with me.
One problem I’ve run into is that everyone I tell, family and friends, have asked me when I knew, like the exact moment that I immediately knew that I was gay, and I still don’t have an answer. I explain to them that I started to realize around 6th grade that I was different, and then I denied it and prayed for it to go away for all of 6th and 7th grade. Then in 8th grade I decided that I would do the thing that I thought was religiously best, to just accept it, but not act on it and pretend to be normal for the rest of my life, and marry a woman and keep it to myself. Then freshman year, I said fuck that. I decided that if the religion my family followed wasn’t okay with who I fundamentally was as a person, then to hell with that religion. I told the first person halfway through freshman year. The second on the last day of freshman year, and so on.
Another thing that I forgot to mention is that the rest of my family is super religious. My grandparents never do anything that the lord wouldn’t approve of, and my uncle literally used to teach a pray-away-the-gay class, before him and his family became missionaries and moved to Africa, then Iraq. So that adds another element of complication to the mess.
So here I am, a junior in high school, and I’ve never had a kiss, or held hands with someone, or had any form of relationship, and I probably won’t until college. I’m not completely sure why I wrote this. Maybe just to document it? Maybe I’ll post it anonymously somewhere? I guess if there is someone reading this who is contemplating coming out to their family, I’d just say to make sure you are ready for things to be different. I don’t know if my case of feeling more trapped than freed after coming out is rare or if it is just less talked about, but coming out isn’t great, it’s hard and there’s a real chance you won’t have a positive reaction, so beware of that and be careful, I wish you the best, good luck. Thanks for reading.