This weekend, I attended my first Pride in New York City. Scratch that. This weekend, I felt alive. Cliché, right? Well, I spent the first 20 years of my life in denial of who I really was, because it was very much frowned upon where I grew up.
Fond memories of being poked and prodded with questions about my sexuality encompassed much of my adolescence. While not everyone was so quick to question me, I knew most were wondering. You see, growing up in the uber conservative south, most people are hesitant to out themselves. Let’s be honest, North Carolina doesn’t quite scream acceptance.
It was always okay that the friend in my class was gay, but would it be okay if I was? I sat on this fence for quite some time. My worst fear was always that someone was going to expose me. One day, that became a reality.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was cramming for my business law exam as the spring semester of my sophomore year came to a close, what a messy semester that was. My mom had questioned my sexuality before, but I’d became a pro at changing the subject. This time, her relentless questioning had no end in sight, and I blurted out: “Yes, I’m gay.”
My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest as adrenaline and emotions raced around my body. After a brief pause, she told me that she had known for quite a while, coining the phrase “Mom’s just know.” She went on to tell me that she accepted and supported me which was provided some relief.
1 down, 365839458 people to go, I thought.
For quite some time, I would take three steps forward and two steps back. Constantly blitzing the issue, before quickly retreating. Slowly, but surely I began getting comfortable telling people, all along unsure as to whether I was actually comfortable with it myself.
Less than two weeks after graduating college, I took off to New York City and haven’t looked back since. Three days into my first job here, I went to lunch with one of my managers and she said “What’s your deal, are you gay or straight?” Without hesitation, I responded with “I’m gay.” This city has helped me realize that I’m not part of the minority or the majority. I’m just another piece of the puzzle, that’s what we all are.
Since coming out, I’ve lost old friends, but gained new ones, some family members don’t talk to me anymore, while others acknowledge it, but don’t accept it. However, this weekend made me realize, I don’t care anymore. I’m comfortable with it and no longer have a personal stigma attached to my sexuality and if you do, I couldn’t care less.
This weekend was historical on a national as well as a personal level.
I laughed. I cried. But mostly, I lived.