Being a teenager today is hard enough, but being a gay teenager is a lot harder than many realize. I am 17 and gay. Ever since I was little, I knew I was different from everyone else, but it wasn’t until high school that I knew for sure I was gay. While guys my age were checking out girls, I found myself checking out guys. At first I was scared and didn’t know whom to talk to.
I was afraid my parents wouldn’t love me if they knew, but as I started to deal with the fact I was gay, I eventually came out to them. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but also the most important. After I told them, they said, “We still love you and accept you for who you are.” I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Eventually I told some close friends and they supported me, too.
I am lucky to have people in my life who truly care about me. After coming out, I knew that there would be some who would make comments. And yes, what they say can be hurtful. But they do not know me, and when it comes down to it, what do I have to be ashamed of: I am a nice guy, a great friend and a good listener.
It is a shame that some will never get to know me because they are prejudiced against my sexuality. Of course, it is their right to have their opinions, but they should know that being gay isn’t a choice. Who would choose a life that would make people beat you up, humiliate you or even want to kill you because they don’t like your sexuality?
I know not everyone is going to accept me, but I can’t change who I am and I don’t think that I would if I could. I am proud of who I am, and it has taken me a long time to be able to say that. And like the Christina Aguilera song “Beautiful” says, “I am beautiful no matter what they say, words can’t bring me down.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.