It still astonishes me that there was actually a time when I had lived in fear. Is it fine to say that I feel absolutely ridiculous about it now? I mean, if only younger me had received a premonition. If only I had known about the support I would get from my family and friends, I might have come out earlier. Maybe I could have saved myself from fear and isolation for those few years in high school.
Of course, there were no premonitions, so younger me had no clue. Being someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I tend to assume the worst, and that’s exactly what I did. It didn’t help. Neither did the stories I’d read: teenagers who’d been kicked out by their parents after coming out. What if that happened to me?
So that’s why I kept it to myself.
I can’t remember at what age I reached that conclusion, but I think I must have been 15. I went through quite a bit of time feeling isolated: at home and at school. It was not like my high school was a toxic place. The students and teachers were actually pretty friendly. It is just that I wasn’t in the place to open up to people.
What helped me through it all were those times I had spent distracting myself. I volunteered at my school library, which was my refuge, the place I felt most comfortable there. There were many times when I would visit the nurse; she was one of the most supportive people at school. She was so friendly, so easy-going, and so open-minded. And that made my experience at high school better.
But most of all, it was my oldest sister who helped me the most. I was lucky to have her. Sometimes, when I felt anxious at school or out somewhere, I would text her, and she would always reply. It actually took two attempts to tell her. The first time I tired, I had said I was bisexual, then made it out as a joke. Then the second time—the last time—I had told her that I was gay. After that, she became my biggest supporter.
After telling her, it was like I lost a weight on my chest. But it was not until my final year of high school that I told the rest of my family and close friends. Everyone was perfectly okay with it, and that made my last year a better experience than the other years at school. I felt like I could finally be me.
I am in a much better place now. I do not feel like I need to hide anything. Really, I wish I had come out earlier. Maybe that would have made things better at high school. Even though it is a part of me, and I am proud of it, I’m certainly not going to randomly approach a stranger and declare: “I’m gay!” I am grateful that I never had to experience rejection because of who I am, but I still feel so much sympathy, sometimes guilt, for those who had to go through rejection.
Right now, I am about to start a degree at a rainbow tick certified, LGBTQIA+ friendly university. I plan to continue to openly support the LGBTQIA+ community. I hope to hear about all these other stories of any other sexuality/gender identity.
I would like to say that to any young student who may be struggling with their identities, it is okay. It’s okay to question. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to be different, because, really, it’s the coolest. You should embrace your differences, and accept yourself. But always make sure you have somebody there to support you. I have found that being who you are makes you happy, and having those people in your life helps you through the toughest of time. Always be the real you.
Luke is an avid reader and writer who has his own fair share of struggles in life. People have told him that he looks younger than he actually is; he thinks that it’ll be more of a blessing when he's older. Luke was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, and in early 2011, moved to Auckland, where he stills reside at the present. At the moment, he is studying Communication Studies at AUT. He has a blog called Unbroken Me. Despite the busy life of a university student, he always makes time to read.