when i knew #16.
by Michael King
“School had been out for all of fifteen minutes, but I was already headed back to the band room, even though practice didn’t start for another two and half hours. I was going to work on a research paper for AP English, a paper arguing that homosexuality was, in fact, a choice.
“At this point in my life, I had already acknowledged that I had a ‘problem’ with being attracted to other guys. Without much of a home life, or a close group of friends, I didn’t really know how to deal. I talked with my pastor, who told me that, if I was baptized, the devil wouldn’t have such a hold on me. My guidance counselor at school pointed to my strained relationship with my father as the source of my problem. This left me resigned to becoming an asexual blob of clay. I grew to over 300 pounds, grew patchy facial hair, and was happy enough on a day-to-day basis to ignore the ‘problem’ in general.
“I was hoping in writing my English paper, I would finally be able to put the final stake in the heart of my demons. To my dismay, I was finding there was little to no research supporting my claim. I was still pursuing the topic, honestly unaware of how desperate I was to help myself. When I walked into the band room, I glanced around the room and noticed that a few younger friends were also hanging around in the room working on papers of their own.
“Fancying myself an intellectual, I offered to read their papers and share my advice. One of their papers hit me so hard that it took years to readjust, and it was a simple assignment to tell a personal story. My friend shared his coming out story. He told the story of how he had been having a hard time dealing with life, and it ended with him coming out to his parents
“I would love to see the look on my face as I was reading that paper. I knew this person, but knew none of this part of his life before. I knew he had a religious family, but they were supportive. I could barely reconcile those two things. I handed him his paper back, offering no commentary whatsoever. I couldn’t do anything other than to go immediately to the bathroom and cry. I haven’t cried that hard since. It was glaringly clear to me at that moment that I was still gay, and I had to find a way to come to terms with it. It was still several years and good friends later that I was able to publicly come out, but this was the moment that I accepted myself, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.”