“It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when I knew I was gay. For me, it was more of a process of coming out to myself and accepting who I really was.
“Growing up, I was an Air Force brat. In those days, not long ago, to be gay and to be in the military were not compatible. Even though my family never really spoke one way or the other about the topic, I presumed it was unacceptable to be gay because ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was in action.
“That being said, I always felt a little different. I was never really into girls. I found myself much more interested in the guys in the locker room during gym class, but I never really thought about it much.
“The first time I really thought about my sexuality, I was in high school. Joining the drama club, I met an openly gay man for the first time. I admired the confidence he projected and his attitude, not only about himself but about life. I felt something for him, but I could not pinpoint what my feelings were. I told myself I needed to let it go because it was wrong. I had various moments like these throughout high school, always with the same thought process.
“My Sophomore year of college, I tried dating a good friend of mine from high school. She was my first ‘real’ girlfriend. I had relationships prior, but – looking back – they never really moved beyond friendship. She would have been the perfect girl by all standards. She was pretty, smart, kind, and she was going to school to be a dentist. We dated for a few months, but something did not feel right; it felt forced and unnatural. I think it was at that point that I really started to question my sexuality.
“I became an RA in my junior year of college. During a conference for student staff, I met a few RAs from other schools in the state who were out. Watching them, I saw that they looked so happy with who they were. Like they didn’t care what others thought of them. It was inspiring.
“Back at school, I brought the topic up with my hall director while we were in a one-on-one meeting. At the time, I regretted broaching the subject. The more we met, the more she really pushed me to talk about it, and it was a talking point during many of our one-on-ones. Listening and providing words of support, she really helped me through the process of accepting who I was. She helped me reshape my perspective. It is because of her that I am who I am today. Had she not pushed me and affirmed that it was okay for me to be gay, I probably would still not be comfortable with myself.”