No longer denying it: coming out in the eighth grade

Ryan Zetty, For the Observer

Mariah Valles
Sophomore Ryan Zetty shares his coming out story.

My coming out experience was not incredibly shocking for anybody but myself. I was labeled “the gay kid” early on, even before I came out to myself. The more I was teased and called countless slurs by my peers, the more I felt in denial about my sexuality.

I refused to accept this aspect of my identity even though deep down I knew it was true.  I thought I had to fit into a role of masculinity in order to be accepted by my peers. This pushed me even further from accepting the fact that I was gay.

In order to compensate, I convinced myself I was straight and dated countless girls in elementary and middle school.

I remember distinctly where I was when I first said out loud that I was gay.

I was talking to my friend Julianne, and she had just come out to me. I didn’t know how to react besides to make it clear that I accepted them for who they are, regardless of her sexual identity. I immediately felt comfortable. I had never been around anybody within the LGBTQ+ community, and for the first time in a while I felt incredibly open.

I saw the opportunity to come out and I took it.

In response to her coming out to me, I came out to Julianne as well. Right after I came out as gay, the burdensome guilt of simply being attracted to guys disappeared immediately. Something clicked, and there was no more denial.

That same day, we went over to our friend Faith’s house and listened to One Direction and Justin Bieber where we talked about all the guys we thought were cute at school. Although I am not in touch with Julianne or Faith anymore, I appreciate them for being the first people I felt comfortable enough to talk about my sexuality with.