Pride Month, 2018
On October 11, 2013, I sat down with my laptop and prepared for the hardest conversation I'd ever had. I was in my third year of college, a seven hour drive from my family, and had a secret that I needed to share. The video call started off pretty ordinary - I called and texted them from time to time, but some discussions deserve to be done face-to-face - or, at least as close to it as possible.
The conversation started simply enough - discussing classes, what my friends and I were up to, any funny stories. We were just about wrapping up, when my mom asked me if I had anything else I wanted to talk about. She must have been able to tell how preoccupied I was. "Actually, there is." I told her, and braced myself for the aftermath of what I was about to say.
"I like guys."
I'm very fortunate, and my mom was immediately accepting. Most of the conversation after that is a blur, I was mainly relieved by her reaction. I distinctly remember my roommate walking in. Both my mom and I went quiet until he left the room again, even though I was wearing headphones. That roommate ended up finding out maybe a month later, though I don't quite know how.
Up next was a more difficult conversation - telling my dad. I found it more difficult when growing up to relate to my dad than my mom. I had no idea how he was going to respond, and I was terrified. When I told him, he got a little quiet, and just said "oh". The conversation didn't last much longer, but afterward I had a knot in my stomach. I felt like he was unhappy with the news.
A month later, I had been continuing to text and talk with my family occasionally. Through a conversation with my mom, I discovered that my dad thought I was upset with him. I had been unconsciously shying away from contact with him, because I had taken his reaction to mean that he was disappointed. As soon as I realized this I called him to discuss it - he wasn't upset, just surprised. Since then, we've been much more open about it, with him telling me that he wants me to be happy, and that my sexuality doesn't matter to him.
It's been four years since then, and I feel like I've come a long way. I've had a few dates, and even a couple of relationships. It hasn't been all perfect - there have been some crushes that didn't work out, and spending too much time trying to chase the wrong guy - but overall I'm amazed by what I've done since coming out. I'm currently dating someone, who's met my family, and who makes me happy all the time, and I consider myself extremely fortunate because of it.
So what does Pride mean to me?
It means being proud of who you are, not ashamed. It means that just because you're different, doesn't mean that you're any less valid or awesome as a person. It means that love is a beautiful thing, no matter who it's with.