Since I was 11 years old, my biggest fear was coming out as gay. As a Texas-raised Catholic, I had several misconceptions of what would happen if I came out. Fortunately, in my case, I was wrong about all of it.
Here are some of the misconceptions I had:
1. People will bully me. I feared that being out would put a target on my back. But the truth is, I was a already subject of bullying because people thought I was gay. In my case, the bullying stopped when I came out. Why? Because people feed off the unknown and love to judge someone who is struggling. When I came out, I wasn’t struggling — I was confident and accepting of myself.
2. Friends will abandon me.
I came from a divorced household. So, I relied on my friends to be there for me. I feared losing them. But here’s what I learned, if you surround yourself with good friends, they’ll never leave you. Unfortunately, I was the one who abandoned my friends. I thought separating myself and lying would protect our friendship, but it only hurt it. It wasn’t until I reconciled with them individually and explained everything that I realized they would have been 100% supportive.
3. College will be the worst. Actually, college was the best! I was scared at first, but quickly learned that the Marquette University community is different and accepting. I never felt like the campus was a place that wouldn’t allow me to be myself and thrive. It’s because of my Marquette experience that I finally gained the strength to come out.
4. The Church will not support me.
The Church and its followers are two different things. “The Church” = Catholicism, the Pope and Vatican leaders, and the teachings. The Church DOES support me. Some of my fellow Catholics may not, but change doesn’t happen over night. I may never have the chance to get married in the Catholic Church, but I do know that I am supported and accepted for who I am. How do I know? Because I choose to believe in a God who judges me on what’s in my heart.
5. Life will be different, and tough. WRONG. Life is different, but in every good way possible. I’m happier. I’m healthier physically and mentally. I’m living life in freedom. The only tough thing I’ve faced is realizing that I could have come out sooner! But, I wouldn’t change my journey one bit. I am who I am today because of the path I traveled on to get here. It had its ups and downs, but it gave me strength and insight.
6. The workplace won’t accept me. Some professionals say to separate your work life from your personal life, to not voice your political or religious beliefs, and to not make yourself vulnerable. Some work environments may prefer that, but I don’t plan on working anywhere like that.
7. Family will disown me. In my case, my family already knew. They were just waiting for me to be comfortable enough to tell them. Every gay man’s fear is that his family will disown them. I’m one of the lucky ones. My family is even more supportive now than they ever were before. Today we don’t fight… as much! We all know each other on a more personal and deeper level. And it’s because of that that we all share more love and respect for one another. Unconditional love has no limits.
8. Acceptance isn’t possible. This is the big one — the fear of not being accepted. But here’s the thing, we think we’re looking for acceptance from others. I don’t believe that is it. I think the acceptance we’re truly looking for is within. The minute I came out was the minute I accepted myself. Me! The real me.