acceptance: finding the real you

i’m still the same person.

Coming out can be a difficult thing, even under the best of circumstances. Not only finding the acceptance in yourself, but also finding acceptance in your friends and family. For a majority of the LGBTQ community, it’s not even an option of coming out. There are still many places around the world, and in America, that discriminate, shame the people in the LGBTQ community. So to all those that are struggling with coming out, my one unsolicited advice is: be you. Be the REAL you. And you will be the happiest you’ve ever been.

Here’s my story.

Growing up in a relatively small town in South Dakota, born and raised Catholic and attending a private Catholic school, you’d think I would have been on the straight and narrow (see what I did there?). Did I necessarily know that I was gay then? No, I didn’t. My family is one of the more rare families in South Dakota that is liberal in a conservative state. My family has gay friends that I grew up with them being around. A lot of the time they would come to our family functions. They didn’t make a big deal about it; they were just part of the family.

Did I necessarily know that I was gay then? No, I didn’t.

I believe because of that upbringing, I had never questioned that that was different, wrong. The earliest that I can remember hearing that same sex couples was “not okay” was when I was in college. I attended a liberal college where the arts was very much prevalent. You can say that it was very eye opening. But I still never understood why people thought that same sex couples was wrong.

As the saying goes, college is a time for experimenting. Well… That is when I really started questioning how I actually felt, not only about myself but about others as well. I didn’t know what all of these feelings meant. Some of them I didn’t want to feel! I didn’t want to feel attracted to other guys. I didn’t want to feel that because I didn’t want to disappoint my family of not being able to get married and have children. I didn’t want to disappoint myself of not doing the same. I didn’t want to have to deal with people judging me. I didn’t want to deal with societies’ preconceived ideology of the LGBTQ community. I hid it.

I didn’t know what these feelings meant. Some of them I didn’t want to feel!

Once I had actually confronted myself with being attracted to other guys, I had told myself that I will never end up in a relationship with one. Again, it went back to my “I didn’t wants.” But of course, life has it’s own plan, and it usually doesn’t follow yours. I had met a guy that I really connected with; I felt like he really understood my thoughts of “being gay” and how I don’t “fit in” to a lot of the gay community. I started getting these weird feelings again. I didn’t know what to do. He kept telling me that he’s going to date me, and I fervently disagreed.

Little did I know, life happened again and we started dating. I don’t believe any of my friends or family knew about me, or if they didn’t they hid it well. So, thinking about telling people that I was dating someone, let alone a guy, was needless to say nerve-wracking. My friends, of course, were very supportive, and still are. The first family member that found out was my sister-in-law. You might be wondering, “Hmm, that’s an odd one to know first.” Well, Snap Chat just because a thing, the guy at the time and me were drinking, and decided to Snap Chat a picture of us kissing. Yes. Classy, I know. I had noticed that my sister-in-law had taken a screenshot of the Snap Chat, and immediately thought, “Well, that’s done. I guess I don’t have to sit down and have a talk with the family.”

That next weekend, my sister-in-law was in the same town that I lived in at the time and we met up for lunch. I was acting a little awkward, I think mainly because of the Snap Chat, but also because I knew that I had to bring it up. Once I did, she didn’t care at all. She said that she brought it up to my brother the night of the Snap Chat and all he said was “OK.”

Flash forward a few months to August 24th, 2014. I remember the day vividly. I was working my part time job at Eddie Bauer and I just felt compelled to get the heavy weight off of my shoulders and tell my parents the truth; the last to know (I don’t recommend that). I wrote up a text message (non-confrontational) and sent it to a few a of my friends. I needed that affirmation that I was doing the right thing and that I was saying everything that I needed to say. I wrote it all up in a text to my mom and hit “Send.” My BP sky rocketed, my HR through the roof. Complete dread overcame me. I text the guy right away and said, “well, she hasn’t said anything back but at least I have you.”

I always knew that my family would be okay with it, but that moment when it’s actually happening. It feels as though the world stops. You think to yourself, “is this worth it?”

Although the relationship did not work out, I definitely think it was worth it. I am me. I know that I can get married now. I know that I have children. I don’t care what society says. I am me and I will always be me. My “I didn’t wants” turned into “I don’t cares.” The biggest weight fell off of my shoulders.

Although my coming out story may not be interesting, I just hope that by putting it out there, it encourages others to be who they are.

Coming out doesn’t change who you are. You will always be you. I’m still the same person

Never feel ashamed of who you are. Never feel like there is “no way out.” There are always options. Reach out to someone you trust, reach out to me, reach out to GLAAD, reach out to the LGBTQ Community in you city. Someone is ALWAYS there for you.

I also want to say Thank You to all of my friends and family that have supported me. You will never know how much it actually means to have you in my life and for your acceptance.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Doris Graeber says:

    Your “bio” is so well done and,of course,sounds just like well it should . You have always been an important part of our family and a joyful part at that.lovedyou when you were acutelittle kid and still do.


  2. Steve says:

    Very cool Ren


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