Words cannot even express what it’s like to be gay in high school. The emotion that most gay people go through every day of high school vary in two different extremes, either you’re out or you’re in. Fear, doubt, resentment, jealousy, dread, paranoia, happiness, regret, and isolation; these are but a taste of the feelings and emotions that a person in the closet has in high school. My name is Alec, and I am gay.
But that isn’t all of who I am; that is just one small part of me. I am so much more than my sexual orientation.
Being gay in high school is taboo. At first I didn’t understand what it is was about myself that made me feel so different from the other guys, and then once I realized what I was I made a choice right then and there to accept myself or put myself in denial. For the longest time I was in denial, and it killed me. I was pretending to be someone I was not, thus my entire life became a lie. I felt trapped, behind enemy lines with no way of escape. I felt like a fugitive and I began to become devoid of emotion. I practically lacked personality. Not until I had a life-changing experience that started in middle school did things begin to change.
Eighth grade was the turning point. A group of guys I never even knew were laughing at me to my face. I knew one of them; he used to be my best friend. One of the guys targeted me and yelled "Gay!" at me whenever I passed by his table. I felt hurt by my friend’s betrayal. That same summer my home was violated by these kids. They toilet-papered my house and tried breaking into my car. They came back the next day and stayed outside my house and yelled faggot at me before they zoomed off in their car. The humiliation was too much.
At home it was even worse for me. I was terrified of my parents finding out that I was gay. I knew they loved me, but at the same time I wasn’t sure of their reaction if I told them. My dad had just had a quadruple bypass, and I believed that it was not the appropriate time to talk to them about my orientation. One night my mother confronted me about it. At first I told her I was bisexual, but she saw through my lies. My mother assured me that no matter what I was she still loved me and that my dad felt the same way. My sister was the last to know in my immediate family. I told her when I had just arrived in Denver and we were driving back to her apartment. She asked me as we were driving if I had a girlfriend. I told her that I was gay and she then proceeded to tell me that now we could be shopping buddies, to which I politely declined. After that moment in the car with my sister, our bond grew tremendously, and she is one of my best friends. My prior fears about my family’s acceptance were banished and I was very happy.
The chaos finally ended at the end of my sophomore year. I then proceeded to come out to my friends. Gradually my life became much better. I knew who my friends were and I was no longer afraid. I had changed into a new person, a better person. Ironically I guess my personality changed like a bud that blooms into a flower. With my identity crisis gone I could now move forward in life. When people used to ask me if I was gay, I replied no, because I was scared at first and also because really it was no one else’s business what I was. But now I’m assured of myself, I accept me for who I am, and I am no longer scared. I am complete.
So now I am a senior in high school. I have great friends and a wonderful family. I share my story with my listeners hoping to make a difference. I know that somewhere either here at Shelton or at some other school there is a boy or girl going through similar situations as I did. I can only hope that, by sharing my story, people like me will become less afraid and more assured of themselves. I am going to end this with a quote by my hero Margaret Cho:
“Try to love someone who you want to hate, because they are just like you, somewhere inside, in a way you may never expect, in a way that resounds so deeply within you that you cannot believe it.” —Margaret Cho.
Share your own story here. Sharing stories is a powerful way to connect with other people. Be part of the Teen Health & Wellness Personal Story Project—like Alec did above—and share your story about successfully dealing with or overcoming a challenge.