For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been labeled as the “eternal optimist.” The one who tries to see the positive in any situation no matter what. Oh, and I’m gay. Yes, I like men. I am loud, proud, and always ready to show off my true colors to the world. And even though we are living in the 21st century, the year 2018, there are still people that are bothered by the fact that individuals can have feelings for those of the same sex. Of course, being a homosexual is not the only thing that defines me…by any means. I love Disney princess movies and romantic comedies that can make me cry. I have seen every episode of The Golden Girls at least 10 times and can recite almost every single line. I’ve been playing the piano since the first grade and still hate playing chopsticks as much as I did 20 years ago. I have a mom, dad, and older brother who have always taught me to put others first and to be kind to all. I love to color, wear tanning lotion when I go running outside in the sun, and can listen to Katy Perry’s Firework on repeat for hours on end.
Cause’ baby you’re a firework, come on let your colors burst…YAHS…sing it with me. Sorry…I just love that song. I digress. Let me tell you how I let my colors burst. I came out of the closet in the spring of my junior year of high school in 2005. At that time, it was not something socially accepted, especially in a community that was very conservative. I remember telling several of my friends who were extremely supportive, but not surprised in the least–they were just waiting for me to express my true colors. I also remember coming out to the boy in show choir/concert choir/the school musicals that I had a huge crush on. He was playing the piano in the school hallway before rehearsal one afternoon and I went to sit with him on the bench. I told him that I was gay and that I had a huge crush on him. He gave me the biggest hug and literally pulled me up off the piano bench. I’ll never forget that moment. Needless to say, that never turned into anything and I have not heard from that individual in more than 10 years.
I wanted to keep my sexuality a secret from my family until college because I just wasn’t sure how they would react. They ended up finding out in a way that I never dreamed would occur (an email communication I had with a fellow classmate) and it presented me with some very difficult struggles during my senior year and final summer before moving to college. I remember Freshman year of college being a bit rough at first because of the dis-connect that I had with my parents before leaving that summer; however, I will always be forever grateful to The Singing Lions show choir group that allowed me to be myself and fully supported and loved me through all 4 years. Ultimately, my parents and I had a sit down conversation the summer after my first year of college that involved watching a documentary called, For The Bible Tells Me So. This was an eye opening exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community. After watching it, my parents and I had a mini Q&A session to understand each other’s perspectives and feelings. Today, my parents are fully supportive and I couldn’t love them more. They have provided me with such guidance, support, and love that I try to pass along to others I meet in community. There are still days that I get stared at, judged, or called faggot. Through it all, I come out even more loud and proud than before.
It pains me to think how many individuals in this world are afraid to be themselves because of the social stigmas that are present in society. One thing I learned is that you are NEVER alone and that your true tribe of friends, family, and supporters will love you through it all. Follow me on Instagram @mrsunshine827 Check back every Monday for new blog posts! Sprinkle sunshine always, JP!