Value your true identity, defy all other norms

Justin Zabel, Columnist

Imagine growing up with family members that were against any form of marriage except between a man and a woman, many times hearing comments and sexual slurs towards anyone who was different then what they saw and heard. They felt it went against the family name which you were supposed to represent. 

As I grew older and began figuring myself out and who I was meant to be, I knew that coming out was going to be something that would break my family apart and I would see who my true family members were and the ones who would just toss me to the curb. 

According to Peoples Magazine, Lil Nas X came out as gay, but growing up was hard. He talked about how there were times when his family would teach him that being gay was never the right thing to do and be. “He had been taught as a child that being gay “is never going to be O.K.” and worried about alienating his fanbase: “I know the people who listen to [hip hop] the most, and they’re not accepting of homosexuality,” Nas X said. 

Knowing that he grew up being taught that and I grew up knowing that some of my family believed it was wrong to be gay, I had to be stronger for myself than anyone else. I stayed in the closet till I was 18 years old and knew that coming to college would be the best opportunity to find out my truest identity. Which to me was being gay and being proud. The more I figured myself out and began posting on my social media more feminine qualities, my family would begin to figure it out. 

When I started coming out to people, I was never ashamed of who I am. I would defend anyone who brought shame, heartache and sexual injustice on the LGBTQ community. There’s no reason to talk down to the community because we are humans just like you are. 

When I came out to some of my family members, some of them decided to start spreading rumors that I was “potentially gay.” When I went home for winter break of 2019, I was cornered by my dad’s parents, who are 100% against the LGBTQ community. The grandmother, who I no longer associate with, asked me to step into my childhood room and said, “I heard you are potentially gay?” 

My response was, “I am not ‘potentially gay’ I am gay.” Then she had the gall to say, “your grandfather doesn’t support you and the community, but we still love you.” The next thing that came out of my mouth would shock you all. No one would ever speak to a family member the way I did. I said, “you have to support the community and myself before you can truly love me. Maybe come into the 21st century because we don’t live in the 1900s.” Then I stormed off and slammed the front door. 

Going through that was hard alone, but I did not let not accepting me hurt who I am and was born to be. As time goes on, my dad’s family has tried to “love and support me” when all they do is try too hard and not do more. 

Many people in the world are afraid to come out and should know that it is okay to be yourself. I know for myself, being a proud, out gay man makes me happier than I ever have been. There are celebrities that have been disowned and looked down upon because they are different from what their families wanted them to be. 

Being who you are is not a sin or not something you should hide. There are many people out there that think it is okay disown a child for being gay or not accepting them for their true identity. 

Many people of the LGBTQ community get harassed and looked down on. One example is Ellen DeGeneres. She came out on a TV series in 1997. She got so much backlash for it. 

“The Puppy Episode” spread, hate mail poured into Ellen’s offices,” or even “At one point a bomb threat was called into the studio,” Sara Kettler, a reporter for Biography. This is just another example of why the LGBTQ community is stronger together because when all this happened, more and more people began truly expressing who they are and are supposed to be. Many people look up to DeGeneres when they are coming out. Some even ask her for advice or watch how she does it.