By: Courtney Walters
I’ve known I was gay since I was nine years old.
I’ve known that I can’t be gay since I was five years old.
Growing up, the words “Homosexuals burn in hell” or “That kind of life is a sin” were normal. I heard them and shook in my boots where I stood.
Because when my friend Kirstin had kissed me behind a shut down Save-a-Lot at age nine, I didn’t hate the feelings. Instead, I had the urge to keep kissing her. But the thought that my step-dad would find out or that I could not go to heaven was even scarier.
So I hid that part of me.
I hid it in middle school when a girl in marching band invited some of us over for a party and I suggested we play spin the bottle so that I could get a chance to kiss the cute boy from the percussion section.
I hid it in 8th grade when a girl in my english class kissed me in the bathroom between classes and I had to act disgusted, like she was a freak for those feelings, and told all my friends about her.
I hid it in 10th grade by acting promiscuously with all the boys from the soccer team in public, but then spending afternoons and evenings with her. Holding her hand under tables and kissing her behind closed doors.
I hid it my freshman year of college by going to a Christian Liberal Arts school… where you can’t act on your feelings. Where I could safely be celibate and not get distracted with girls and secrecy and lying.
But then, I grew tired of hiding.
I grew tired of the facade and the lies that I was telling to keep myself shut away in a closet that frankly, had gotten four sizes too small for me.
I had grown tired of laughing off homophobic jokes and then going in the bathroom to cry because I felt personally victimized.
I had grown tired of lying to myself, of not embracing who I truly was, all the wonderful (and gay) parts of me.
I had let my family's views dictate the way that I see and love myself. I had let society tell me that it’s not okay to accept this part of me and I had been okay with that, making that part of me submissive and hidden.
I am now out and proud. I speak out against the injustice that the queer community faces on a daily basis. I am in love with an amazing woman who pushes me to be the best version of myself.
Hide and go seek is only fun when there is nothing at stake. You are valuable & stellar & lovely… and how dare the world tell you that you aren’t. Go be you to your fullest potential and set the world ablaze, my dear.