To Thine Own Self Be True

Originally published on The Huffington Post, October 10th, 2016

I’ve never felt the need to advertise my sexuality on the internet because when you meet me, I don’t say “Hi, I’m Christopher and this is my sexuality.” So why should that be your first impression of me behind your screen? There’s far more to me than who I’m attracted to. But today is a special day: National Coming Out Day. 29 years ago, half a million people marched on Washington in our nation’s capital for Gay & Lesbian Rights, and to honor their bravery and spirit, I am sharing my own personal story.

 

I am gay, but it’s not the only thing I think of when defining myself: I’m an optimist, hard worker, comedian (when people laugh at my jokes), honest, blonde, skinny (as my grandma reminds me far too often), a human being, the list goes on and on. I always think it’s interesting when people become so enveloped in labeling themselves. I’m Christopher, and that’s that.

 

***To those who are receiving this as new information: I’m still the same Christopher you knew before this article. I still love my family, am obsessed with Theatre, love to write, and will continue to crack jokes at the dinner table- pretending like the Buffalo Wild Wings waitress is hitting on me, even though she just asked me if I wanted a refill…I just want to get married to a man one day, and if that makes you think less of me, you can think so less of me: you don’t think of me at all.***

 

It’s taken me a long time to accept myself for who I am. I remember countless nights laying in bed and staring up at the ceiling: my brain and heart wrestling with the fact that I might be different… People always say that growing up and “finding yourself” can be a hard journey, but discovering that you’re gay can be a whole different level of difficulty. Throughout my adolescence, my stomach would hit the floor whenever I would even hear the word “gay” or “homosexual”. It made me upset, I didn’t want to think about how I could be “abnormal.” I just wanted to be cool and fit in, so this whole ‘liking boys’ thing was definitely putting a wrench in my “fitting in” plan.

 

I tried to convince myself I wasn’t this way. Telling myself it was a phase or labeling my feelings as other things that were easier for me to understand. I never really had any gay people to look up to when I was little, no gay family members or family friends. It was a foreign thing to me. Eventually, there came a time when I realized that I am a loving, smart, funny, and caring person, so why should it matter if I was attracted to men? Why can’t I still be a good person and be gay? Although those thoughts were summed up in a few sentences, coming to terms with myself took years.

I also think that the world has changed since I was young and people are far kinder and less harsh on the topic of sexuality, as it has become a more mainstream topic. More and more generations are accepting others for who they are. On the flip side, there are still a lot of sad and angry people, who like to focus their negative energy on things they don’t understand, and unfortunately homosexuality is a common target. For those who just do not know: gay people don’t possess a specific genetic disease, not all gay men like to wear dresses, and not all lesbians possess deep voices and are less effeminate than other women.

I am a happy, educated, intelligent, positive young man, who just happens to be attracted to the same gender.

 

I’m so very lucky to have the parents I have. My mother and father always made it clear to me that they would love me no matter what. Even with that kind of loving support, telling your parents you’re gay is something that can still terrify you. I remember making my bed one Saturday morning and wondering when I would tell them, and questioning if I even really needed to tell them. “I’ll get around to it sometime.” When I did finally tell them, it was as you’d expect from my first couple sentences: they will always love me, for which I am forever grateful.

 

I will never apologize for being myself because I love who I am. In the classic Shakespeare play “Hamlet”, Polonius is giving his son wisdom and advice before he embarks on his journey back to school. One of the lessons he tells his son is: “To thine own self be true.” I have always felt an immense attachment to that quote, because, throughout my twenty-one years of life, I have discovered that the only person you should ever be is yourself. Being comfortable and truthful of who you are can be the difficult thing to obtain, but keep trying, because it truly is all worth it in the end.

“To thine own self be true.” ~William Shakespeare

I can understand that if you do not have a lot of knowledge on this subject, it can make you uncomfortable, as we often get nervous or cramped when talking about things we know little about. But I implore you to do research, the internet is a marvelous tool to educate oneself on cultures you are not a part of. And just a reminder to Love One Another. Love is one of the most powerful things in this crazy world we live in, so love one another for who they are.

 

Whether you’re gay, bi, queer, lesbian, transgender, straight, or anything else, I hope that you find it in your heart to accept yourself and others for who they are. The fact that someone is different makes them unique, and we should celebrate that. After years of being open with my immediate family and friends, I’ve come to discover that:

Life is only the best if you live it in your truest form.

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