Growing up, I had this silencing fear of people finding out that I was gay. I grew up in such a traditional household where anything “gay” was unmentionable. So, at a young age, when people would tease me about being gay or ask me that infamous question that made my skin crawl, “Are you gay”, I would be very uncomfortable. And to clarify, it only made me uncomfortable because I was not ready to admit that truth to myself out of fear of how my family would react. Although, deep down, I knew that they knew.

 

“he knew that I was struggling with something”

 

After I graduated high school and was settled in college, my dad called me one day and told me that he noticed that I wasn’t happy and that I haven’t been happy in a long time. He expressed to me that he knew that I was struggling with something.

His approach made me comfortable enough to come out to him and I did. My dad later revealed to me that he was homophobic, which is something I figured, but the way he initially handled me coming out is very commendable.

 

“being apart of the LGBTQ+ community is NOT a choice”

 

My mother was the one I feared telling. I grew up with her making degrading comments about homosexuality and would always remind me of the things that boys are supposed to do and what boys were not supposed to do. However, she approached me just like my dad and I was able to come out to her, just like my dad. She was furious that I told my dad before her and it took her time to understand that being apart of the LGBTQ+ community is NOT a choice.

 

“I remember thinking that he didn’t see me as an actual man”

 

My relationship with my dad became strained. I remember thinking that he didn’t see me as an actual man because of my sexuality. This caused me to be super defensive with him. Over time, he would tell me about an Oprah special about the struggles that the LGBTQ+ community deal with, especially a black gay male. His heart began to soften and we became closer and closer.

It took both of them time to come around. Now, they both love and respect me, as I am. So, it gets better. It gets easier. Do what’s best for you and do not let fear hinder you from living your best life.

After coming out to my parents, I still felt pressure because I still had a reputation amongst friends and family. I was known as the “preacher boy.” I was enthralled in the church, which can be a mean and uncomfortable place to be because of the judgement you feel. Although, I’ve learned that God loves me just as I am, it took me awhile to separate my relationship with God from the church.

However, when I finally came out to myself, I became FREE! I wanted to explore my inner self and I did. I’ve never felt as confident, happy, & free in my entire life, thus far. 

Don’t rush your experience & don’t hinder yourself by waiting until you think other people are ready for you to come out. Make that decision for yourself and stand on it. Have PRIDE in who you are and manifest power from that. 

Rae Rahji

Edited by Aislinn O'Keeffe

LGBTQ+ Activist

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