Earlier today, I found myself scrolling through some movie selections, when I came across a newer movie that I had heard rave reviews about. Love, Simon was the one I decided to sit down and watch. I had a gut feeling in the beginning that I was going to cry, and boy was I right. This movie melted my heart in every way possible. It opened my eyes to things that I completely forgot about. It’s been roughly ten years since I came out to my family and friends and the struggle of grasping the entire idea of it all being real is sometimes unbearable. This is not a movie review, so I will do my best to not spoil it for everyone who has not watched it yet. Instead, this is a message to all LGBTQ+ individuals, who may have come out already, or not at all.

ls1Acceptance is what we all strive for from everyone around us. It is one of the hardest things to get from people most of the time, but the majority of the world longs for it, even when they don’t realize. As a gay man, I find it hard sometimes to accept everyone too. But, when I dig deep down inside and question myself why I am so judgmental, I come to find that it’s because I am not 100% true to myself. I hide a lot of who I am, depending on who I am around. Of course, when I am around my closest friends, I am completely comfortable with being Stephen. Other days, around coworkers, strangers in the street, and even some family members, I find myself questioning how I should portray myself. I have done some acting in my life, not professionally (I wish), but in the community, and at school. Because of this, I have learned to play fake characters both on stage and in real life. In no way am I happy to not be the real me, but sometimes, naturally, I conform to blend in. Also, as a server, it’s hard to make money when you get certain individuals who may be a bit homophobic. In those instances, I change my portrayal as well. Writing this, reading this back to myself, watching that movie, and looking at everyone around me that seems so confident in themselves, makes me want to be a better version of myself. I shouldn’t be afraid of being who I am. If the world does not like it, who cares. To all of you out there struggling with the same thing I go through on a daily basis, let’s make a pact. Let’s not conform to society, but instead, lets stand up and wave our freak flag high. Who gets to tell us how we are supposed to live our lives. We breathe every breath in our bodies and we speak every word that comes out of our mouths; nobody else does that for us. Being ourselves is the best thing we could do for our happiness.

While watching Love, Simon, I began to tear up every time he didn’t feel accepted. It is so difficult to come out to the world, when in some instances, hatred is spread all over. Family could turn their back on you and friends could distance themselves faster than you can say goodbye. Although this is very sad for the parties involved, you are what matters in the end. If they cannot accept you for you really are, then they were never really meant to be in your life in the first place. You cannot fight your entire life hoping that somebody will love you. You have to accept that not everyone will understand and move on. It is hard, I know. I have gone through the same thing. But, if I had to choose my own happiness, or acceptance from everyone around me, I would choose my own happiness. Life is way too short to waste time on the haters and I am doing everything in my power to portray that in my life. It is a daily struggle, for me, for you, maybe, and for so many people out there.

Coming out to your family and friends will come in time. You will feel so much anxiety as you think of doing it, but you have to breathe. Think to yourself, this is who I am. If they really love you, they will accept you the way you truly are. I am gay, and I wish I had the guts to come out to my family myself. Instead, a third party decided it was their job to open the closet door for me. Like in the movie, I had no say in when it was the right time to come out to everyone. But, honestly, is there ever a right time. I am so sad for my fellow gays, because coming out should not be such a hassle. It is a norm for all humans to be straight. We are in the 21st century; why are we still locking one another into the closet of uncertainty? Homosexuality is not a trend; it is a lifestyle. Why would we decide to be taunted and hated by our peers and fellow humans? We are gay because that is who we are, and we cannot help it.

When my family confronted me about being gay, I had no idea what to do. Was I supposed to be honest or was I supposed to continue my life with a lie. At 15, I was not sure of anything. Now, at 24, I wish I could go back and change the outcome of all of that bulls**t. I wish that I could sit my parents down, personally, and tell them face to face. I wish that my birth mother didn’t butt into my life and try and sabotage the only control I had going on at that time. In all reality, wishing can only get you so far. If you know you are gay, sit them parents down, and be free. There is no point in this day and age to be in the closet. Why do we have to be afraid? Why do we have to be ashamed of ourselves?

I just hope that everyone in the world who is unsure on what they should do, understands that they control themselves. If you are gay, you are gay. There is no point in hiding it anymore. Come out, be proud, and find the people around the world that will accept you. If nobody wants to at that moment in your life, just be patient. Sometimes it is a shock to some people and all they really need is time. My advice to you on that subject is, don’t push it. Do not force others to accept you. Accept that they might not understand and that you did what you had to do. Be happy knowing that you told the world your secret that has been weighing down on you for so long. It feels great to be free, trust me.

To everyone out there, open your eyes! Open your eyes to all aspects of life. Just because someone doesn’t play sports like you, doesn’t mean they aren’t unique in their own way. If someone has a mental illness, it doesn’t make them any less of a person. That homeless person you see on the street has a family too. We all go through very hard times that we ls2sometimes can’t overcome. I go through such bad times, sometimes, but I try to keep my head high, and fight through the pain. Of course, it is easier said than done, but in time, it will get better. As long as you try to do better, it will get easier. If you hit rock bottom, there is only one way to go from there…up! Learn and let live. Smile, be happy, accept the differences in the world. Understand the differences in personality, lifestyle, fashion, hobbies, and so much more. Let’s love each other, not hate each other. Stop spreading all this hatred in the world. We all want change in the world, but we aren’t trying to be a part of that change. Be a better person for yourself and be an example for everyone around you. Confidence, remember, is key.

For all my fellow LGBTQ+ individuals, remember to love yourself. When no one else will love you, it won’t matter. Life is a beautiful thing that we have to fight through continuously. Do not give up. Life will tear you down multiple times, but you have to push through it. Stand up for yourself. Be true to who you are and don’t hide your individuality. Being unique is so beautiful. Make a change in your life. If you aren’t out and proud, but want to be…just do it! Breathe and get it over with. True love will be shown when you are true to yourself. I hope that all goes well in everyone’s life and that everyone understands self-love. You are amazing just the way you are and you don’t need anyone to tell you otherwise. Live that life you are blessed with and DO NOT GIVE UP. Be free.

Love, Stephen

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