It has been almost of year since the summer of 2013 when I finally came out about being an open gay male athlete. My name is Tyrone Jackson. I am a track & field athlete who happens to run the 800m with a PR of 1:49 in Division 1 Track & Field Sports.
My life changed so fast when I came out like the temperature of my body once I step into an ice bath after practice to speed up the recovery of my soar body. A secure home with a family turned into “couch surfing” (Going from place to place) from friend to friend home to stay over the summer after I came out about who I was while I’m not at school. You see the people I used to stay with weren’t going to let me live what they call “the gay lifestyle” when I came out about who I was online and didn’t tell them. It made me laugh because there is no such thing as a gay lifestyle. I told them that I do just about almost everything that everyone else does except I would be holding a guy’s hand instead of a girls hand down the street. However, they called it a sin that I should act on these so called homosexual feelings and they would not support me if I do such a thing. I couldn’t follow that rule anymore. I am going to tell you why and how my life is now.
For 7-8 years I kept this a secret of me being attracted to men. I couldn’t tell anybody. I was not fortunate growing up either and the only way I was going to get out of poverty was my talent with running.
It is what I call the “Dark Age” where I would walk on egg shells all day long, and be 100% myself only when no one else is around. I was scared for my life. I was scared that I would meet the same fate as the other open gay males in high school. I was scared that I would be bullied, or even worse, beaten to death.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of an even worse torment coming in the future once I got into college on an athlete-scholarship. The more I repress who I was, the more suicidal thoughts came to my head. To think, a kid with over a 3.0 gpa, one of the top 96 800m runners in the nation for Division 1A Track & Field, literally went from years to seconds away from taking his own life. I knew I had to make a decision, take my life or finally be honest with who I am and people. The summer of 2013, I finally came out and boy was it a mess. The family I stayed with was immediately against my ideas of supporting the gay community as well as me being openly gay. Yet, they didn’t know what I was going through in my own head. I wanted to be true to myself for once in my life and if that meant me being kicked out of their house then so be it. I wasn’t going to live under the oppression of being something I’m not just so I can live under their roof.
Most of my friends who I used to talk to in high school to the first year in college barely talk to me now while keeping a distance or have just plain abandoned our friendship all together.
I was heartbroken and I soon realize my world was collapsing before me. Although those friends left me, I gained new friends with people who accept me for being me. The funny thing is no one expected me to be gay because nothing about me would have pointed to that phrase. But it took months before I recovered from that heartbroken pain because it felt like I was beaten to the ground mentally and emotionally. Going through those experiences has taught me a few things once I came out on the other side.
Someone may say they are okay with it, or love you but don’t believe what they are saying if their actions are not lining up with it. It is okay to be scared, it’s okay to cry, even be uncertain of your future but still continue to live life while you still have breath going through your lungs. Remember that the past may have shaken you up, thrown you into the wall causing cuts and bruises, but you are still here so that means you are too tough to bring down so easily.
Today, nothing much has changed about me so I still kind of come off as a guy who is straight until I tell people that I’m gay.
I’m still doing track & field. It turns out that women are way more accepting than the men are. I got back in touch with my mom and told her what was going on in my life. We are best friends now who can talk about almost anything with each other.
My friend circle is pretty small, but I value it because of how genuine it is as well as how close we are. I am now an independent student in college. I sometimes wish I did have a family, and a home to go back too whenever I hear my teammates talk about their families. But my reality is what it is and I have to be grateful for it because it can be much worse. I don’t have suicidal thoughts come to my head which is really great. I struggle with financial situations sometimes but that’s normal. I’m single for the most part who is doing all he can to support himself.
Life throws a bunch of shit our way. As long as you understand that life is not fair sometimes, you won’t be surprised by some troubling situation around the corner. Just because somebody rejects you, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. I mostly just try to keep to myself so I don’t deal with much homophobia. Running is a great stress reliever, it is good for keeping me in shape besides just competing and it gets my mind off the troubles in my life for a little while.
You and I will just take on life one day at a time.