I am Proud to be gay. Although I can say this confidently today, the feeling did not come easily. There was a time in my young life when I would cry myself to sleep begging God to hit the delete button on my attraction to men. When I woke in the morning I would feel the heaviness in my chest and know the curse had not been lifted. Instead, it remained the shameful secret I could not confess to my friends and family.
Over time, I realized that being gay is not something that happened to me but is a part of who I am. I also realized that I cannot be defined simply by my sexuality and that being gay would not limit the person I wanted to become. Being gay has not kept me from living my life or realizing my dreams. I have found respect as a health care professional, student, small business owner, church member, community leader, family member, and friend. One day I hope to have a husband to travel the world and create a family with. Following my heart has led me to great success in life. Following my heart has also led to loving myself and honoring the love I feel for others.
What’s more, I am proud of who I am become because I am gay. In fact, I would say that living as an openly gay man has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. While it has been difficult at times, especially when coming out, being gay has taught me to explore and question who I am, find my inner strength, use my voice, embrace diversity, never take love for granted, demand my rights, and fight for the dignity of all people. Living as an openly gay man has made me a better person, a better friend, and a better citizen. It is for all these reasons that I can say I am Proud to be gay.
Coming out is not something that happens once, but is an ongoing process of discovering your true self and finding the strength to share who you are with the world. I wish I could say there was a magical time when being gay was no longer an issue to be faced. The truth is, there will always be people who are afraid of things that challenge their beliefs and fears that bring out the worst in us all. Despite this, my life has taught me to look for the best in myself and in others and celebrate those things that make us unique.