Growing up, I was always taller than the other kids in school. By the time I was in third grade, I was taller than my teachers. People often assume that being 6’4″ in middle school would be enough to keep the school bullies away from you. However, being someone who didn’t fit in with the traditional masculine gender roles, I was often singled out by the other kids.
I was a band nerd, and when I was in 8th grade there was a guy in band who had a Britney Spears poster in his trumpet case. I saw him being teased by the other guys, so I made it a point to become friends with him. We quickly became best friends and were inseparable. I had a huge crush on him, but I was still figuring myself out and there was no way I was going to tell him or anyone else.
I walked into the band hall one day and someone had written “Andrew and (friend’s name) are faggots” on the chalkboard. I think I know who wrote it, but rather than say anything to the band director, I erased the writing as quickly as possible before anyone else saw it. I couldn’t take a chance that someone might figure out what I was trying so desperately to hide.
That friend moved to a different school, and it wasn’t until years later that I told him I’m gay.
When I was in 10th grade, I decided I was ready to come out to someone for the first time. I decided the first person would be a good friend from school who I was tutoring in math. I was so afraid, I couldn’t find it in myself to say the word “gay”. I told my friend that I had something to tell him, but he had to guess what it was. After making lots of wrong – and some pretty hilarious – guesses, he said “you’re gay”, and I said “yes”. Luckily, that friend was open minded and accepted me for who I was. It’s hard to express the relief I felt after my first coming out. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my chest.
Coming out is something that you have to do over and over. Sometimes when you tell people you’re gay, they’ll say “well, duh” and sometimes they’ll say “you know you’re going to hell, right?”, but a lot of people will be somewhere in the middle and just have questions.