John Dewey Academy, Great Barrington, Massachusetts
One secret made me miserable for most of my life.
The moon poured creamy beams onto the Utah desert floor. I hid myself from the bitter cold in a sleeping bag under my ivy-colored shelter as I had done for the past seven weeks since arriving at a wilderness program. Slivers of light filtered into my shelter as I lay there contemplating my life. I could not sleep; thoughts buzzed through my head like an angered hornets’ nest. I thought, ‘If not now, then when?’ I was scared though; I had been bullied for most of my life, and the abuse created a negative connotation of homosexuality. The bullying—students putting tampons in my locker, calling me a faggot and other slurs— forced me to build walls around myself. I was scared even to admit my sexuality to myself because that meant I had to be honest about it. I sought courage and I found it; I forced myself to admit it aloud. I whispered the powerful words, “I am gay.” I began to feel lighter. I vowed to myself that on Tuesday I would utter the same words to Matt, my therapist.
Tuesday came and I was waiting for Matt. I was more nervous than I had ever been. However, I knew that I did not want to carry the pain around anymore. As I looked around at the staff who were there, I prayed that I would get the girl with the hipster glasses as my DAPS—the staff member who was designated to support the student for the week. I just prayed that it would be a girl. My DAPS was announced: his name was Dean. He had a shaved head and his muscles were almost as big as my fear of coming out. I was terrified. I was going to have to come out to my therapist and Vin Diesel’s secret twin brother. At least it was sunny out.
My therapist, Matt, led Dean and me into the wooded desert for our session. I did not want to say anything in front of Dean. He was intimidating and unfamiliar. However, I remembered the pain, and I realized that I needed to do this. Another wave of courage surged in my being: “Well I’ve been thinking about passions this week, and I’m gay, and a lot of my passions tie up with that because I don’t want people to think that I’m gay.”
“Hang on, you just said something huge there that you just skipped over,” Matt said.
“Yeah. I’m gay.” For so long, I had trained myself never to say those words. They felt foreign to my tongue. A smile danced across my face as tears began to well in my eyes. My therapist smiled warmly, happy that I was finally honest.
Since that moment of authenticity, my life has only gotten better. I have been able to come out to my community at John Dewey Academy, my parents, and, most recently, my sister. I have grown into a courageous, confident, and strong man. I have learned that my sexuality does not define me. Coming out allowed me to let down my walls that I held up to protect myself from the bullying that I experienced for my entire life. Revealing my sexuality allowed me to be more honest about other facets of my life. I no longer let people walk all over me like I allowed them to do in the past. I now live from my soul rather than from what is believed to be cool. I have accepted other quirks—my voice and the energy that I put into my speech—all because I was honest about my sexuality. I am no longer ashamed to be an intelligent, powerful, and confident young man who happens to be gay.