Coming Out

coming out story, gay blogger, lgbt blogger, pride month, lgbt pride month

By now I’d hope that we’ve all wrapped up our Christmas shopping – I started AND finished yesterday, don’t judge. But in keeping with the spirit of the season I wanted to share what’s on my wish list this Christmas. Before you go and roll your eyes, hear me out. This post will go down in history as the most personal, in-depth, and transparent that I have written.

It’s no secret that I’m a gay man – if it is, then that cat is officially out of the bag now. While I may have mentioned my coming out story in previous posts, I’ve never went into detail about it. Until now that is. I’ve chosen to share my story because it’s my wish that it may serve as inspiration for other young people out there struggling with exactly what I went through 10 years ago, and ultimately because My Grownup Christmas Wish is that one day no one will have to deal with “coming out” because it was the hardest thing I ever had to go through. 

I still remember it like it was yesterday, even though it’s been over 10 years now. I was 14. It was the middle of the summer, and I was on break at my part-time job when my work day was cut short and I was plucked out of the office by my parents and ushered out the back door. No sooner than did I have the car door shut when my mom asked the three words that forever changed my life, “Are you gay?” Without a second to think about it, a pause to take it in, or to be taken back by it I replied “Yes.” It was the first time I had said it out loud to anyone, least of all my parents. Cue waterworks from my mom, and silence from my dad. It was only a short 10-15 minute drive home, but it seemed to drag on for hours. Once we got home the silence continued, interrupted by my mom’s sobs which were shortly joined by my own. Most of what occurred after that is a blur, by that I don’t remember most of the exact words that were spoken. There were a few that stood out, and that are still committed to memory. Like, “Do you think it feels good to take it up the butt?” or “What did we do to deserve this?” The only other thing I remember is how small I felt in that moment, so incredibly small. But not once did I try to deny it, and for that I’m incredibly proud of myself. To be fair though there wasn’t really any denying it. Because of growing up in a religious, military family I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I was going through, and I resorted to the only place I knew I’d be safe, online chat rooms. 

To make a long story short I began chatting with a guy from Florida by the name of Eddie, along with a slew of other guys. It was such a sigh of relief to be able to talk to people about all the feelings that I had been holding inside for years. I was young, I was naive, and I was stupid, but most of all I was a young, horny gay man who had never had any outlet to explore those types of feelings before. Imagine being 14 and dealing with all the hormones that come with that WHILE trying to figure out what being gay means. It was a lot to handle, in and of itself. Needless to say, photos were exchanged – if I ever become “famous”, you’ll probably find some NSFW photos of me floating around out there. Remember Eddie from before? He’s actually responsible for outing me at the ripe age of 14. I opened my heart and soul to the guy, and because of that he was able to bring me down in one fell swoop. He had found out where I went to church and e-mailed all the ministers at that church telling them all about my gay lifestyle, complete with a full photo gallery of me in some not safe for church positions. My ministers in turn sent the message complete with photos to my parents, and the rest is history. 

Within a few minutes the world as I knew it had completely changed. It was something that I had wrestled with for most of my life. I’d always been called queer by my peers at school, and by always I mean always. From the 1st grade until 10th grade it was something that I dealt with EVERY day, but I couldn’t talk to my parents about it because I knew that I was different than the other boys. I hated going to school, I hated being around people, and most of all I hated myself. There were nights I would lay in bed and pray to God that he’d make me fall in love with a girl in order for it to all go away, but no such luck. Some days were better than others, but I always walked on eggshells. After coming out I was essentially grounded from everything. My cell phone was taken away, I wasn’t allowed to access the computer unless supervised, and I was placed into a counseling program complete with an antidepressant regime. Yes, some people really do believe that they can pray the gay out of you, and if that doesn’t work then a good dose of antidepressants will leave you feeling lifeless enough to not have feelings for men.

The next 4 years were quite possibly some of the worst of my life, both personally and mentally. I skipped a lot of school, made a lot of stupid decisions, and slept with some horrible guys. After graduating high school I spent a few months couch surfing before moving in with a friend and sleeping in his living room for over a year, during this time I drank a lot, partied way too often, and never had a place to call home. This was painfully obvious during the Holidays – which is a big reason why I’m not a big Holiday kind of guy anymore, a fact that my dad often reminded me of. There were a few years where I wasn’t invited to family Thanksgiving or Christmas, and spent them with friend’s families instead.  At the end of it all I learned how to be self-sufficient, not without my fair share of trust issues though – sorry to all the guys I’ve tried to date, I know that was painfully evident. 

 Now seems like a good of time as any to share a moment in my life that I’ve never shared with anyone before. I honestly don’t feel incredibly comfortable sharing it, but I feel that it needs to be shared because it happens every day. There was a time in my life where I felt so badly about being gay that I  thought it would easier for everyone, including myself, if I wasn’t around anymore. It was the lowest point of my life, and one of the loneliest. Luckily for me and everyone else like me it does get better. 

I’ve come a long, long way in 10 years, and I honestly wouldn’t change any part of my coming out experience. While it was the hardest, most challenging portion of my life it helped me grow into the strong, independent man who I am today. Unfortunately not everyone is able to overcome the obstacles that coming out in close minded communities affords. My heart literally breaks every time I read an article about a young person ending their life due to bullying or not being accepted by their family, and it’s my hope in 2015 to showcase that things do get better. While my parents and I may not still see eye to eye on my sexuality, but we’ve come a long way, and I don’t allow myself to be bullied by anyone any longer.

Ultimately I wouldn’t have been able to do ANY of that without a strong support system however, and that’s where My Grownup Christmas Wish comes into play. It’s my wish that as time goes on I can be a positive role model for young people, especially young gay men, and that this site will serve as inspiration for them. A source of inspiration that shows that they can be anything that they put their mind to, be whomever they wish to be, and be bigger than any labels placed on them by others. My inbox is always open, and I’m a great listener. Whether you’re reading this from the living room of your parent’s house or anywhere else and feel like you have no one to talk to, you do now. Never forget that you’re not alone, and that it does get better. 

Last but not least, Happy Holidays to each and every one of you reading this post, and thank you. Thank you for being my support system this past year, for tagging along on this crazy journey I call life, and most importantly for letting me, be me. I’m incredibly hopeful for what 2015 holds, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. 

Anna May Photography

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  • Beth

    I’d be proud to call you my son and thank you for being a wonderful, positive roll model for young people in a crazy world. I hope you find peace this holiday season.

    • Thank you Beth, I definitely appreciate the kind words. I hope you have a great Holiday season as well!

  • Amazing of you to publish something thus personal.

    Merry Christmas!

  • We came out at the same age, and although my story was quite a happy experience, I think a lot has changed in the last 10 years and it’s hopefully easier for today’s 14 year olds to be honest with who they are without fear. Great post and have a wonderful Christmas. T x

    • Couldn’t agree more, a lot has changed. But also for people that are coming from rural parts of America like I did, things still aren’t the best in the world. I’m so glad that your situation was different, and I hope you have a great Christmas as well!

  • Brian

    <3

  • Jennifer

    So brave! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Thank you, it was definitely not an easy time, but made me a stronger person today.

  • alyssa

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You are great. Merry Christmas!

  • miranda

    This is such a beautiful look into your experience. I know it sounds typical to say, but it is the hard times that make us strong and who we are today. I think about that when I think about the rough times in my life. Bravo on this post and Merry Christmas, Joshua!

    Xo,
    Miranda

    • Couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t be who I am today if none of that happened. Merry Christmas to you too love! Hope to see you more often in 2015.

  • Carlene Love Flores

    One of these days, we’ll all just think of each other as people. Thank you for sharing your story, Josh. I haven’t “known” you long, but you’re one of my favorite people. If you’re ever in San Diego… 🙂 Sending lots of love and light your way, to you and yours!

    • You’ve became one of my favorite people that I’ve met thanks to the blog, and the next time I’m in San Diego we’re definitely grabbing a drink!

  • jessica saccoccio

    You were so strong and so brave. You still are. I feel blessed to have known you during those years and to see how far youve come. You are an amazing person and such an inspiration. I love you to death.

    • Thank you so much, and thank you for being there for me during that time in my life! I’ll never forget it.

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  • Joan Hundley

    Hello Josh. I started following you on Instagram and I like your youthful taste in clothing and places around Louisville. I just read your post and my heart is breaking for you. I’m a middle aged overweight Mom of two children about your age. I try to put myself in your parent’s position and I honestly don’t know how folks can just disown a child. I’m glad that you say you and your parents have “come a long way” and I wish for a complete reconciliation one day. Forgiveness can go a long way. Have a Merry Christmas and I hope the holidays will have a special meaning to you sometime in the future.

    • Joan, thank you for your kind words and for tagging along. I definitely appreciate it! The hope behind sharing my story would be for kids/parents of all walks of life to learn from my experiences so that they wouldn’t have to repeat what I went through with my family. Hope you had a great Christmas!

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  • Krystin Robertson

    Josh, it is truly inspiring that you can take those low moments in your life and completely turn it into something positive. You are an inspiration to all. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • Krystin, thank you for the kind words. It’s definitely appreciated! Wasn’t an easy post, but it seems that every week there’s another reason that I should’ve shared this sooner. Hope your New Year is off to a great start.

  • brittbenn03

    As a Christian, it hurts me so much to hear of Christian families hating their LGBT children. If you can’t love your children for who they are, and who God created them to be, how can you love yourself? I’m pretty much guaranteed to have a gay child if I ever have kids bc there’s so much glitter pulsing through my veins, and I will love that child like he is more precious than air.

    Proud of you and all the work you’re doing, josh. I’m glad to know you!

    • Thank you Brittany! Super proud of you too. I have a feeling 2015 will be a great year for both of us.

  • Wow, what a story. Thank you so much for sharing it. As someone who’ll likely be a future mother I think to myself “so what if my child is straight, gay, bi, transgender, etc. Those things, while important, aren’t what will upset me. What will upset me is if my child- male or female- is a liar, a cheater, a douche, a jackass, an abuser on physical or mental scales, etc.”

    • Couldn’t agree more. There are so many more important things that parenting does actually affect that people totally forget about. Thanks for stopping by + the kind words!

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  • Hi Josh. I know this is an old post, but I just came across it today. What a brutal few years that must have been. I’m so sorry your decision to come out was 1) taken away from you and 2) met with that kind of response from your parents. I’m proud of you for standing your ground, on behalf of everyone who’s had to have this kind of conversation with their parents. I don’t know that it’s ever easy (I’m grateful every day to PFLAG for the open, accepting relationship I now have with my parents), but it should *never* be this hard. Thank you for sharing your story <3

    • Thank you, as always, for your kind words and understanding Hannah. It’s much appreciated <3

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