This column is pulled from a conversation with two of our reporters who discussed their experiences growing up as gay men.
Tim Carlin: So, where do you want to start with this?
David Kwiatkowski: I think we should start where you said.
Tim: Okay, do you want to go first?
David: … No.
Tim: Okay, so I came out in waves. I first came out to my friends when I was in sixth grade. By the time I got to high school, everyone just kind of knew. Throughout high school, it just became more known. I never hid it from anyone.
I came out to my mom the day after Donald Trump got elected. I had this irrational fear that Mike Pence would start some sort of LGBT witch hunt, and I would be sent to a conversion camp. I don’t know where my fear came from, but I remember it being a driving force in my need to tell my mom.
When I came out to my mom, it honestly wasn’t a great experience. Not because she wasn’t supportive, but because I knew I wasn’t ready to tell my dad.
I felt guilty for bringing my mom into a secret I wasn’t ready to share with the rest of my family.
David: You told your dad recently, didn’t you?
Tim: Yeah, I was just sitting in my dorm one night thinking it was almost becoming a disservice to my dad and my brothers that everyone in my life knew I was gay, except them.
It felt like I was withholding this huge part of myself. I felt bad that I hadn’t told them, not for their sake, but for my own. So, I texted my brothers right in the moment, and the next morning I called my dad and told him. It went really well.
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So yeah, that’s my coming out story.
David: Wow, okay. My turn.
I kind of always knew I was gay, but I thought I was doing a really good job of hiding it. People used to ask me in elementary school, and I would get so mad, like “Why would you ever say such a thing?”
I came out to my best friend, Julianna, at a sleepover when I was 15. I was so nervous to tell her that — even though we were sitting right next to each other on her bed — I told her over Snapchat. She was surprised because she thought I was going to tell her I liked her.
My mom was always cool with it, but telling my dad was not fun. We didn’t get along that well afterward.
My dad’s side of the family still isn’t okay with it. They still ask where my girlfriend is, even though they know.
They used to give me shit for painting my nails when I was younger, but now I’m in college and I’m going to strut into Thanksgiving with my painted middle fingers up.
Tim: My family used to give me shit for playing with Bratz dolls!
David: Me too! I used to steal my sister’s Bratz dolls all the time.
Tim: I think there’s a stigma around asking people if they’re gay.
David: Yeah, I will never ever ever make the first move on a guy. Sexuality is too delicate a subject to talk about with just any man.
Tim: I think men are conditioned from a very young age to not talk about their feelings or be open about their sexuality unless it’s in a derogatory way.
David: I’ve never deeply connected with another guy before … ever.
Tim: I also don’t feel like I’ve found that here yet, which is sad. I feel like I only know a handful of gay men on this campus.
David: Yeah, I think you’re the only gay man that I know on campus. I never know who is gay and who is not when it comes to boys. Girls are just so much more open about it.
Tim: It all comes back to this stigma around it. Girls are more open to talking about feelings, sexuality and fluidity. Whereas, if a boy even hints at any of those things, he’s labeled and ousted from his community.
David: The first guy I ever had a crush on was actually one of my close friends, which sucked because he was straight. But, at the time, I thought maybe he liked me back.
Tim: Oh God, mine too!
He was one of my close friends in middle school. He was one of the first boys I came out to, and I just kind of naturally fell for him. He accepted me for who I was and never judged me for anything. He had this big head of curly hair, and he always knew how to make me laugh.
It was just easy to have a crush on him.
David: Mine was in high school. He was one of the first guys I ever considered a close friend. We got along really well and bonded over pop culture. We had inside jokes and he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Plus, he was a hot basketball player!
When I was crushing on him, I wasn’t even out yet. He was part of the reason why I came out.
Tim: I got over my crush a long time ago, but I’m annoyed because once we got older, he got hot!
My crush on him started to fade because I realized it was never going to happen. After I had been secretly crushing on him for a while, he actually started dating one of my close girlfriends. In the moment I was so hurt, but it was for the best because it forced me to move on.
David: Well … my crush ended because he was a little homophobic at the time. I wanted to come out to him after I told Julianna, but I didn’t know how. She asked him if he’d ever had the feeling I was gay, and he didn’t have the best response.
I was heartbroken. Not because I lost my crush, but because I lost my friend.
Tim: Have you spoken to him since then?
David: Yeah, he’s actually still one of my close friends. We were 15 years old. We’ve both grown up emotionally, and he is honestly one of my biggest supporters now. He texted me after I came out to everyone and told me how proud he was of me for being myself.
What about you?
Tim: We’re really close friends still. We kind of fell off for a while in high school, but we became close again our junior year. I still consider him to be one of my closest guy friends.
David: So, is this the end, then?
Tim: I mean, I guess? Do you have anything else to add?
David: Not really. I just love airing my dirty laundry for The Miami Student.
Tim: Ha! Until next time … Bye!