Steve Stull

Chicago + Cincinnati + Illinois + Ohio + USA

It’s a Small Part of a Whole

Gay + Male / 18-22 + 23-29 / White / Catholic

Growing up as the youngest cousin in a large Italian family was hard enough by itself; it didn’t help that by the time I was 10 years old, the argument over homosexuality had already torn my family apart. I had two gay uncles and my sister had just come out as homosexual as well. My grandparents were welcoming to the idea that a man can fall in love with another man, my parents, however, were not as accepting. Because of our Christian background, it was always a hot topic within our household.

With this tough family situation, I was always praying, trying to change my sexuality; trying to ignore my intense attraction to men instead of women. My parents would pray every night for me to find a great wife, for her to be everything I had ever dreamt about. I would cry myself to sleep each night and every morning in the shower because I couldn’t stop my sexual attraction to men. All I wanted to do was to be what I thought of as ‘normal’ for a teenage boy, attracted to woman. With years of hearing how wrong my homosexual thoughts were and even judging myself for liking men; I spiraled down into a deep depression that only I knew I was going through. I put on an extremely tough façade that I was a perfectly normal teenage boy. I had no problem with school, friends, athletics, was never bullied, shamed or even made fun of; just that deep, gut-wrenching feeling of depression because my prayers to become straight weren’t being answered.

Turn the page forward to when I was fifteen years old and attending a Christian ranch in California. I was having quiet time with God, praying, journaling and just feeling peace for the first time in years. In that moment I wrote the words that, at the time, I didn’t know would change my life forever. I wrote to God, “Please help me to find a good husband to marry.” It was a milestone in my relationship with God and my coming to terms with my sexuality for myself. It was the first time that I admitted to myself that I was truly gay and that I wasn’t just going through a phase.

To my dismay, the coming to terms with my sexuality didn’t change my depression or my struggle to deal with my feelings. I still wanted to be straight so that I could fit in with my friends and talk about how hot the girl was in my math class.

After high school, I decided to attend Miami University and join a fraternity; it was a decision I didn’t expect to make. I would often drink too much just so that I could use the excuse that I was ‘too drunk’ to have sex with that girl. Four years had gone by, even a few girlfriends along the way, I still found myself playing the role of a ‘straight college fraternity guy’ very well. I didn’t know what to do, I knew I wasn’t ever going to be with girls, and I was still suffering from troubling depression. I decided to move back to Cincinnati and get a job and just play it out and see what happened.

February 25th, 2011, a day that I had dreaded my whole life, ended up being the best and most gratifying day ever. I received a call from my mom and she was crying, she said, “Steven, are you gay”? Initially I denied it, but she then read to me the journal entry in which I had written, “Please help me to find a good husband to marry”. There was no way for me to deny my sexual identity anymore, I was screwed, or so I thought.

My mom called a family meeting that night, she wanted to sit down with everyone and tell them what was going on. I was shaking, balling, crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I was literally living my worst nightmare, having to face my family after coming out. I walked in and the first person to approach me was my brother, he didn’t say a word, just gave me a huge hug; I knew right then and there that I was going to be okay. It was a tough family meeting, questions were asked, tears were shed, hurtful and calming words were shared, but most importantly the loving bond between family members was present.Heartbreak had been the theme of my life until that day; I was dealing with such a deep depression. Although it didn’t clear up over night, it was the first step on the road to emotional healing for myself and between my family and me. Everyone is battling something in his or her life and everyone struggles with something; remember that when you’re dealing with your coming our journey. Be patient with those around you, understand that you had years to accept and realize your own sexuality; the people you’re about to tell haven’t. Be yourself, be proud, your sexuality isn’t what defines you; it’s a small part of a whole.

Heartbreak had been the theme of my life until that day; I was dealing with such a deep depression. Although it didn’t clear up over night, it was the first step on the road to emotional healing for myself and between my family and me. Everyone is battling something in his or her life and everyone struggles with something; remember that when you’re dealing with your coming our journey. Be patient with those around you, understand that you had years to accept and realize your own sexuality; the people you’re about to tell haven’t. Be yourself, be proud, your sexuality isn’t what defines you; it’s a small part of a whole.