In second grade, I remember looking at one of my friends and thinking that he was beautiful. These were feelings that I had never considered for any boys, specifically because the people around me took a “straight until proven otherwise” approach to attraction, like most of our society does. Because I had never heard of boys liking other boys, however, I just buried those feelings and all similar feelings deep down inside myself for years. I assumed that it was bad and unnatural. I thought it was parseltongue.
I didn’t have any experiences with LGBTQ+ until middle school. In middle school, “gay” was the worst thing someone could be. There was one boy who said he was gay, specifically just to give the bullies nothing to mess with him about, and he was so heavily bullied and excluded within the school that someone cut off his hair in class and the teacher did nothing. I was terrified. I internalized a lot of self-hatred and anger because I was being bullied and I thought I deserved more. This kid wasn’t even gay, but he was being bullied, and here I was, liking guys, and I wasn’t nearly as bullied. I hated myself because I was this thing that the kids around me hated so badly. I hated everything.
Going into high school, I took a lot of my self-hatred out on a lot of people around me, to the detriment of myself, as well as my potential to make friends that I missed out on. I didn’t understand why I felt so bad, and I didn’t understand why I felt these feelings at all. I read somewhere that it was a normal thing at a point in time, but became less normal as times and values changed. “Gay” was a bad word, something that I could never dare to say, admit to, or face.
Everything changed when I finally made a few friends. These friends were a bunch of girls who fell across the LGBTQ+ spectrum; lesbian, pansexual, and bisexual. Through them, I found acceptance, and was finally able to come out as bisexual, then later pansexual. I remember the relief that I felt when I told them. It was so satisfying and felt so right. Something that I had little to no experience with was feeling comfortable being me.
I remember coming out to my family. I came out to my sisters first: they were arguing about whether or not a guy was cute and I said, “No, he’s not that cute.” They responded, “How would you know, you’re not gay.” I said, “But I am bi.” They were shocked and didn’t really react, so that was the end of that. Later, I came out to my brother and mother over dinner, simply by saying it and then quickly trying to change the subject. I remember being discouraged, because while my mother wasn’t outwardly disapproving, I thought that she might have been disappointed. I remember one of my sisters saying something like “I accept it, but I don’t support it.”
I began feeling more comfortable being outwardly open as I began gaining more friends, slowly growing to the point where I was very out. My family members who didn’t accept me or support me also later began supporting me, and that helped me to grow in confidence as well. The world seemed to brighten for me with every time that I raised the flag and carried the torch.
I briefly worked at Yellowstone, and became really close friends with a group of people from a Christian organization. I was raised Christian and still liked the title of “Christian,” but I had long ago pulled away from the religion for a lot of reasons. They would have weekly bonfires, and one member would tell their story at every bonfire. When it was one of my best friends’ turn to share, he came out to all of us, and everyone hugged him, and I was moved to come out to them as well, something that I had been too scared to do until then. I remember one of the men telling me “Chris, I love you, and I am so happy that you felt comfortable enough to tell me this. God loves you as he made you, and I love you as he made you.”
In college, I officially came out to my extended family and family friends, which was a very nerve-wracking thing for me, but I wanted everyone to know, so I made a big Facebook post for National Coming Out Day 2017. I was blown away by the love and support that I received by friends, family, and everything in between. It was a really amazing moment. I also later came out officially as grey-asexual panromantic, which means that I can love everyone regardless of their gender or gender identity, but I am not very sexually driven.
As the years have gone since officially coming out years ago, I have faced my fair share of trials and backlash, but I have had an amount of respect and support that I never would have imagined before I came out. I think that coming out is important, but it is more important to be comfortable coming out than just coming out. The people who love you will continue to love you, and if they don’t, then they were never meant to last with you.
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Written by Chris Sefcovic on Oct 13, 2020