Of Course I Dress Well, I Didn’t Spend 15 Years in the Closet to Dress Badly!

“For the first time, we know that some 1.3 million kids, or roughly 8% of all high school students in America, report being lesbian, gay, or bisexual.” This statement is from the US Centers for Disease Control or CDC, after a survey was taken by high school students in 2016. I am one of those people.

Remind you I lived in Missouri where same-sex marriage was only recently legal and many hate crimes happened regularly in the inner city.

Me coming out of my own sexuality closet!

Before SAS, I went to an all boys catholic school called St. Louis University High School or SLUH for short for my first two years of high school. During my freshman year I came out to my best friend, Gretchen, on FaceTime as I cried and had to have all the lights off. However, immediately, I was met with love and later that night met with compassion from my parents as I came out to them. I knew that everything was going to change with my family and my close friends and I was somewhat ok with that, what I was truly afraid of was coming out in public. And most horrifying my high school. I knew nothing about how coming out in high school would be like. Would I be even more bullied than I already was? Would I have to leave school? Would my mental health get better or worse?

8% of all high school students in America report being lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Source: https://qz.com/1014142/a-teen-health-survey-crucial-to-us-public-policy-is-finally-asking-kids-about-their-sexual-orientation/
Me with my rainbow on Instagram!

I had many questions that couldn’t be answered because there was/still is no mainstream LGBT societal knowledge that is known to help people integrate into one of the most hostile environments in society: high school. I couldn’t figure out if I sent out a mass email, did an Instagram story post, or if I did nothing and if someone asked me I would just say I was gay. A mass email was a little tacky, and an Instagram post was cliche, so I opted to do that last choice except with a twist of a rainbow in my Instagram bio. I thought it would lead to people being way more chill about it and maybe no one would notice. I was so wrong, let me tell you.

Graph explaining hate crimes in America in 2017.

Less than 30 minutes after adding that little rainbow to my bio I got at least 10 texts, calls, FaceTimes, and Snapchats from people asking what the emoji was for. I froze I tried to quickly look up what to do and found only stereotypical articles that said to wait until after high school to come out, or to never tell your parents, or even to look to conversion camps for answers. Remind you, I lived in Missouri where same-sex marriage was only recently legal and many hate crimes happened regularly in the inner city. However, according to the ACLU of MO, “Missouri’s hate crimes law explicitly includes gender identity-motivated crimes under its broad definition of sexual orientation”. This gave me some confidence, but I still didn’t know what to do. When I returned to school after coming out, I was met with some stares, but majority was positive. People didn’t really see it as such a big deal, and I was surprised by this after hearing the terrible stories of people getting beat up and even being killed for being apart of the LGBTQ+ community. I went home after the first day of being an “open” gay and I was happy. I went on YouTube that night and looked up gay YouTubers and I stumbled upon James Charles. From there I really started to enjoy my identity and started to get more and more involved in the gay community. I went from being so afraid of coming out to now where I count the days until the next St. Louis Pride Fest. I welcome the insults and hate against me because I know that I once was afraid just like many of these closeted bullies are. All I can do is be myself.

I knew nothing about coming out in high school would be like. Would I be even more bullied than I was now?

On the heels of Pride Month, I write this article to not only shine a light on my experiences, but to also provide support to those who might be feeling confused or fearful. If you or someone you know is struggling with their sexuality or gender I encourage you to read my “Gender and Sexuality” article where I explain what gender and sexuality is, and I include resources about sexuality and gender. Finally, below I attached an essay, where I wrote about my coming out experience in much more detail, which has been published in an online magazine. Please read it if you want to know more about what it was like coming out to my parents. Thanks for reading babes!

https://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/personal_experience/article/1023935/Of-Course-I-Dress-Well-I-Didnt-Spend-14-Years-In-The-Closet-To-Dress-Badly

XOXO Gossip Gay ❤

Author: Will Staley

Will Staley is currently a senior and this is his second year working for the Eye. This is also his second year living in Singapore, having moved from St. Louis, Missouri USA. Will enjoys photography and has a photography website (willstaleyphotography.com). He hopes to pursue photography and journalism for his college and career, while being involved in his passion of politics and humanitarian work. He can be contacted at staley774011@sas.edu.sg.

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