The United States has changed quite a bit since 1969’s Stonewall event. Our conceptions and language around sexuality and gender today are unrecognizable to what it was in the 70s. This is something that LGBT individuals should appreciate immensely, and is something that benefits everyone regardless of sexuality. Back in the day, incredibly capable and effective individuals were cast aside in many industries and arts simply because of the people they slept with. I think of people like Alan Turing.
Like the journey society has gone through in it’s perceptions of sexuality, many LGBT individuals will tell you that they, too, have gone on a journey. I feel I have certainly gone through a journey truly discovering, or perhaps becoming, who I am today.
Even though we live in a pretty tolerant society today, there are still places and contexts in which this acceptance is not felt. This is understandable to me. Everyone and everything experiences “growing pains”. I think back to many times in my life that made it difficult to come to terms with who I was or be honest with others about how I felt. Going to Catholic school and living in South Dakota are not the easiest places to be gay (though I was mostly closeted at these times). Furthermore, I have had my share of people being uncomfortable or less than savory about my sexuality since I have fully come out.
On the flip side, while I have experienced plenty of negative reactions to my sexuality (before and after coming out), I have also experienced an immense amount of love. Both my parents and my sister have been incredibly accepting and understanding. Additionally, my friends have been incredible. I remember fearing that they would accuse me of being dishonest with them in the past. That for the entirety of our relationship I had put on a mask and not shown them my true colors. This wasn’t what happened at all. Instead my friends and family were entirely supportive. I am forever grateful to have them all in my life.
I write this post for two reasons: For my non-LGBT friends to possibly gain a better understanding of a gay person’s experiences and thoughts. And most importantly, for my closeted LGBT friends to understand themselves better. Sexuality can be confusing, especially when there are so many pressures around us telling us what we should or shouldn’t be. My life has nothing but improved since I finally became completely honest with myself and others. Even when the reaction was sometimes negative after coming out, there is something to be said about the fulfillment of honesty. The pride of truly being yourself.
Be courageous. Come out. But don’t do it for me, and certainly don’t do it “for the good of the LGBT community”. Do it for yourself. There is no one on this planet that is more important than yourself. I know I wish I would have come out much earlier than I did.
Meet the Author : John Knetemann
From Denver, Colorado. Educated in Rapid City, South Dakota. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The most epic and daring content writer you will find on the east side of the Amstel... And sometimes the west side too. I am from the land of mountains, but now live in the land of very small hills and canals. Truly a native of the internet, I work with companies to build adventurous content, engaging social media identities, and addictively informative email campaigns.