Coming out is going out

Oct. 7, 2013

Alexander Nedd
anedd@uccs.edu

“Was it something I did wrong?” my mother asked, looking at the floor. “I just don’t understand.” She was crying, and the same question that had burned in my heart for years shone in her eyes: Why?

Oct. 20, 2010. The date is burned in my memory. I remember my mother and my emotions as I finally told her what I had known for almost three years but had wrestled with my entire life.

Coming out is not easy. To be honest, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. No one wants to see their mother cry.

I held my mom’s hand as I wiped away my own tears. “No, it wasn’t anything that you did. It’s just who I am. I can’t change.”

Despite the tears that night, I remember finally breathing a sigh of relief, finally knowing I didn’t have to hide myself anymore. Three years later, I am finding this to be more and more true.

I confided my sexuality to my friends first. What amazes me still is how much they were OK with it (or already knew).

Though I was teased in high school, I found ways to cope with the stress by hanging out with friends, joining the Gay-Straight Alliance and simply letting the small things roll off my back.

Since I graduated from high school, my time at UCCS has enhanced this experience by opening my eyes to a world of diversity. Here, students can be anything, but most importantly, they can be themselves.

To me, this is shown most clearly by the growing number of LGBT people who are “out.”

I understand the fears of coming out, such as rejection. That was mine.

But coming out is not as hard as it once was. Over the last couple of years, I have encountered many who have come out to no opposition. It’s becoming less and less of a big deal.

Times are changing. Public opinion is changing right before our eyes, and it’s happening whether people like it or not.

Thirteen states have legalized gay marriage, and Colorado began performing civil unions in May.

Pop culture is continually reflecting a change in our generation as well, from signature red equal signs on Facebook during the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to Macklemore’s hit single “Same Love.”

All of this is helping show that LGBT people don’t stand out, but rather they blend into a society that celebrates diversity. And, in turn, making coming out a lot easier for individuals.

I’ve been with my boyfriend, Tyler, for 10 months, and not once have I felt threatened or embarrassed to be in public with him.

My mother frequently asks how we are doing, a normal question for which a standard response, “Just fine,” is usually given. This kind of interaction is quickly becoming the norm for LGBT people.

To me, I’m no longer a gay guy in a straight man’s world, but just a unique individual going through life.

This week, UCCS kicks off its annual Coming Out Week with a variety of events and speakers – a chance for LGBT Mountain Lions to celebrate their diversity and alliance.

But these events are numbered. Coming out is going out, and I for one, could not be happier.