The Elephant in the Room

In honor of #NationalComingOutDay being earlier this week, I felt it was only appropriate to share with y’all my journey of self discovery and my “coming-out story.”

Before we dive deep into those storie(s), yes plural .. I just want to say that the fact that I even had to “come-out” is super annoying.

Like, on the real .. did any of you have to “come-out” as straight to your parents?

.. Didn’t think so, because being straight // heterosexual is known to be normal.

And who wouldn’t want to be normal?

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It’s hard to be labeled as something that has such a negative connotation to it and not even know for yourself if you are that or not .. My peers knew I was gay before I knew I was.

I always hung around with the girls in school, played with the flowers in the out-field during little league, my celeb crush was of course Aaron Carter and I lip-sang // danced to Dirty Pop in the 5th grade talent show with my Lance Bass inspired outfit.

Needless to say I wasn’t your average sports loving – video game playing – tough guy.

You honestly just don’t know how people are going to react ..

Are my parents going to hate me? Will my friends ever talk to me again? Will people treat me differently? How can I make people understand this isn’t a choice?

These questions replayed in my head constantly.

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My coming-out process happened in 4 phases:

Phase 1: the High School come-out (2010)

I remember trying to “come-out” to my best friend .. we usually talked on the phone every night. I started saying stuff like: I have something I want to tell you .. I don’t know how you’re going to react etc etc .. she was obviously so supportive but in the end I chickened out and just couldn’t say it at that moment.

The real “come-out” moment happened at a friends party one night .. her parents were out of town, all the girls and I were gathered around swapping stories, while the guys were playing beer pong and I honestly don’t know what came over me but I just said it.

I am gay.

All the girls embraced me with hugs and support – then instantly started pushing me on things like: Who else do you know is gay? Have hooked up with anyone from our school?

I later regretted answering these questions truthfully because I outed some people that I shouldn’t have but that’s a story for another time.

I was so nervous heading back to school after that weekend .. all those questions starting popping into my head again but it was as if nothing had changed. I was the same guy, with the same friends, doing everything exactly the same as before. I was out and felt beyond lucky for the amount of support I received from all my friends.

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Phase 2: Coming out to the Parentals (2011) 

Freshman year at Alabama flew by but TBH, the moment I step foot on campus I instantly shut the closet door .. I pretty much told no one, expect a few close friends that lived in my dorm. I rushed a fraternity and wanted to fit in so badly and that’s what I tried to do.

After spending the summer at home .. I knew I could no longer keep this secret from my parents. I struggled the entire summer trying to figure out the right way to tell them.

Should I plan a dinner just them and I? Should I tell each of them separately or together? Do I just casually mention it in convo .. oh and yeah btw I’m gay?

None of these felt like the right way to explain to my Mom and Dad who I was .. I knew this was going to be a big moment for me -no matter what their reaction was .. good or bad.

I decided I was going to write each of them a letter .. explaining everything the best I could.

Both of my parents helped me move-in that Fall semester – so right before we left, I strategically placed each letter somewhere I knew they would find it. Once they finished moving me in and started to head back home I knew I had about 3ish hours before my relationship with my parents would change.

And just like that .. there it was – My Dad was calling .. I obliviously didn’t pick up, out of fear of what I was going to hear on the other end .. He left a voicemail.

Hey Alec, Mom and I have both read our letters .. We just want to let you know, that absolutely nothing will change between us. We will always love you no matter what, you’ll always be our son and we will always support anything you do. We are so proud of the young man you are becoming. Please give us a call back ..We love you so much.

Till this day I still have that voicemail saved .. at that moment I truly felt #blessed .. Not everyone has parents like mine. I couldn’t have asked for a better response from them ..

Being accepted by my parents was a huge relief .. but I still needed more.

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Phase 3: Frat lyph come-out (2013)

After living in my fraternity house for a semester and recently coming out to my parents, I knew I needed a change of scenery. I decided to spend the next semester aboard .. I needed to re-find myself as person and experience life somewhere other than the south.

After several conversations with numerous people – it was starting to become easier and easier to say out loud and admit, that yes I was gay.

I lived with 3 of my pledge brothers and when I finally got the nerve to tell them .. they pretty much all responded with “Yeah and..?”

They had obviously already known and couldn’t have cared less.

The real “come-out” moment though, happened at a pregame before the bars one night ..

I’ll never forget this moment: me and at least 10-15 southern fraternity guys are on our back porch .. One of the older brothers looks at me and in front everyone and says “Flounder, I didn’t know you were gay?”

My heart literally stop .. I took a sip of my drink and simply replied yeah man, I am.

After that moment I felt a weight had been lifted and yet again I was shockingly surprised with the amount support and questions the guys had.

I’ve never been the guy with a ton of guys friends .. so you can imagine how hard this was for me. At first I was pretty pissed .. I couldn’t believe he just flat out asked me on the spot like that. But thinking back to it now .. I honestly don’t know when, if ever, that would I have had the balls to actually admit it to all my brothers. So I have him to thank for that.

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Phase 4: The extended fam come -out (2015)

After graduation, it was time to head back home to Atlanta .. for new opportunities, meet new people and start my new adult life.

I started dating .. and after a couple months I met someone and it was getting pretty serious – the holidays were right around the corner and we began discussing what our plans were going to be.

My parents obviously knew about him and that I was interested in bringing him home for the holidays. There was just one little problem – pretty much all my extended conservative // catholic family would be in town for the holidays as well.

This was the final layer of my “come-out” process .. I had a long talk with my Dad about how I should handle this situation. He suggested that he would go ahead and tell them, if I felt more comfortable with that.

I had come too far to let that happen .. This was my sexuality and my problem to bare. The weeks leading to the holidays, I began making phone calls to all my relatives – explaining myself.

The hardest 2 phone calls were definitely to my 2 little brothers .. I love those guys so much and it hurt my pride to admit this to them. They both handled it like champs and made it clear they will // have always loved me no matter what and that I’ll always be their big brother.

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For the first time in my entire life, I truly felt 100% free.

Each one of my “coming-out” phases has made me into the person I am today .. My experiences have varied from situation to situation but all had very similar outcomes .. The amount of support I have received from friends and family over the years is overwhelming.

I know that I am truly blessed to be supported with such love from so many great people. I owe it all to y’all .. without your support and encouragement who knows what phase I’d be in.

Welp, that was a long one .. Happy #NationalComingOutDay

Hope you enjoyed ..

‘Til next time.

-AV

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