Every time I tell the story of my coming out in comparison to others, I feel like my story is different. I remember as a kid asking my babysitter "can two men get married?" and her replying with no. I then went on to tell her I would be the first. Sorry younger me, that did not happen.
I started noticing my sexuality when I was 13 years old and very much like other people I thought it was a phase. I wondered every day, "Do all boys think this way? I bet they do.” I was living in Christchurch with just my mum and sister. It wasn't until my first year of high school that I heard the word gay and had no idea of its meaning until I asked my sex-ed teacher who gave me the definition.
During my first two years at high school I did develop crushes on some boys but never told or showed it. I hid my sexuality by dating girls and when I was kissing them, I felt no affection whatsoever. In 2011 after the Christchurch Earthquake I moved down to a country town outside Invercargill called Winton and went to a little school called Central Southland College. There, I was a new man and nobody knew who I was. In the first year I kept to myself and then promised myself that in my second year I would be more out there and open to the school.
In 2012, I was in Year 12 and during this time this "phase" was not going away anytime soon. I looked to YouTube for LGBTQ role models. Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel on Glee, was one of them. Colfer looked so confident and proud to be who he was. I also looked to President Obama who had a video about him supporting LGBTQ citizens. This was amazing to see a national leader accepting those who are different. The year 2012 was also the year I decided to come out so I told my mum first in absolute tears, but she accepted me (although she didn't believe me until I turned up home with hickeys on my neck.)
Some advice: be careful who you tell in your friend group first. I told someone of my sexuality and next thing you know, it spread like fire burning through a dry bush. Everybody knew and I even caught someone talking about it behind my back. I thought that the school was very rural and backwards in regards to sexuality, but I was wrong. A lot of people were actually accepting and nice although all the girls wanted me to be their ‘gay best friend’. One of the popular girls at the time who had never talked to me before tried getting me a boyfriend.
After high school, things have gotten even better, and I lead a wonderful life with my sexuality on my back. I am studying to be a primary school teacher, I have travelled to very friendly LGBTQ places and I am now engaged, due to be married next year to my wonderful husband-to-be.
Now I will leave with some advice. If you are reading this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you need someone to talk to, talk to school counseling or someone you trust. If you have someone at school who’s also LGBTQ, try talking to them as well, since they would be happy to help.
Finally, don't push yourself out of the closet - come out when you’re ready.