Every year on June 1st, it marks the beginning of Pride Month in the United States.
It is meant to celebrate LGBT pride and spread awareness. As a bisexual man in college, this is an important time for me. I've been lucky to grow up in an accepting community with friends who welcomed me with open arms. Going off to college, I was met with even more love and acceptance.
However, the journey to where I am now wasn't always easy. In honor of Pride Month, I'd like to look back and share my experience. Hopefully, someone who reads this story will be able to relate.
Looking back, I don't know why I was worried about telling my small group of high school friends. Many were part of the community themselves and were fairly open-minded on most issues. However, I was still quite nervous. My sexuality was a constant battle within my mind.
I'd felt different since late elementary school, and within the past year, I'd determined what the difference was exactly. I remember sitting at the cafeteria table in late March of 2016. I remember taking a breath as I announced to my friends that I was bisexual. As I had hoped, they accepted me.
As the months passed, I got more comfortable with myself. I expanded my circle of trust and came out to more people. Over my remaining two years of high school, most of my friends knew about my sexuality. While it did feel great, there was still one small hindrance: I wasn't out to my parents.
I was nearly done with high school, and still not a word to either of them. I'd heard the horror stories of parents kicking their kids to the curb just because of who they loved. Even though my parents repeatedly said they'd accept me no matter what, I was still scared. I know it may sound silly, but when if you were ever in this position, you'd understand.
Once I went off to college, I gained a new perspective on life. I met two guys whose names I won't say. They are both members of the LGBT community, and like me, weren't out of the closet at home. Neither planned on doing so because of how their families would likely react.
Over the course of my freshman year, I learned from these two boys. I learned their stories, I learned about their families, I learned about their lives. When I came home in May, I knew that I was ready. I was only going to be home for a few weeks, so it had to happen soon.
And it did happen. On May 16th, 2019 I was in the car with my father. For the hundredth time, I asked him if he would be OK with me being gay or bi. After he said yes (yet again), I took another deep breath. I was transported back to the high school cafeteria table.
More than three years after that moment, I was able to come out to my father. He was supportive, and honestly not that surprised. He apologized that I'd had to hide my feelings for so long. Once my mother got home from work, I took her aside and came out to her. She was understanding as well. At that moment, the weight of so many years was lifted off of my chest. I was free in a sense.
I'd like to round out this article by calling out to my 15-year-old self. Dear Alex, it's going to be OK. You can come out of the closet and be yourself, and you'll be safe. You don't have to worry about Mom and Dad, either. There's a good chance they're already catching on.
As for anyone else who feels trapped in the closet, you'll find your way. Make sure you have at least one close friend that you can trust. If you think your parents will turn their backs, wait. I know it's difficult, but please wait until you can take care of yourself. After that, you can focus on being you.
Happy Pride Month, everyone!