Everyone says that starting college is a chance to “reinvent” oneself. I saw it as the opportunity to express my TRUE self and live the life I had been hiding from – the life of a gay man who didn’t feel he had to lie; to be unafraid of judgment from those around him. This was the life I had hidden through my young adulthood. So that’s exactly what I did. From the minute I stepped onto my college campus, I lived an openly gay life. All my friends, professors, and roommates knew me as a gay individual… I was out to everyone except my family and friends back home. I was leading a double life and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was exhausting and shameful. I constantly lied to my family, which was horribly difficult as we are all insanely close. I started dealing with the stress in unhealthy ways. I was drinking too much, experimenting with substances that are dangerous and hurting myself because I didn’t know how to deal with the pain of lying to my family.
The summer after my junior year I hit rock bottom and made the stupid decision to try and take my life. At the time it seemed that was the only way to end the struggle of lying to my loved ones. My parents brought me home after that and made plans for me to finish undergrad at a university in my hometown. We had a long discussion about the events that led to that decision. I tried to play it off like school was too much and I couldn’t handle it. To my extreme surprise, my mother immediately called me out and asked, “Cameron, are you gay?” Bursting into tears, I asked her how she knew. “A mother always knows,” she answered, smiling. We hugged for longer than I can remember. The journey wasn’t easy. In fact, it was really hard. Coming from a traditional, extremely religious family doesn’t make for an easy coming out. But looking back, I couldn’t have asked for more of a blessing than being called on my double life. Turns out you can’t fool those that know you best.
For so long, I was terrified that coming out would sever my relationship with my family. I planned on never coming out but it has made me who I am today and now I am brave. I am stronger than ever because I have the support and encouragement of those that love me most. I finished school and got a job at a major marketing firm that I am obsessed with and I’m madly in love with a man that I plan to marry.
I’ve realized that the power in being true to yourself comes with being honest. To live life unafraid of who or what will bring you down. Never getting caught up in the hate that surrounds us, shining through and loving yourself no matter what. After all, this world could use more love.