Zach – My Pride Story

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Zach – My Pride Story

The first thought that I remember about liking someone of the same sex was when I was 5 years old. There was a boy that I thought was cute and I wished we were boyfriends.

As I got older, those thoughts continued and I would push them way down. I was ashamed and thought my way of life would be a secret life. I was 13 when I thought this. I didn’t grow up with gay people in my life and it wasn’t really something my family discussed so I wasn’t sure how they would receive the information.

I came out when I was 17, the summer before senior year in 1999. One of my best friends came out shortly before me and was semi-pressuring me to come out, but I stayed true to myself and came out when I was ready.

I don’t have a huge coming out story. I called my mom and told her. It was a huge relief, but I also felt so vulnerable and raw from it. Thankfully, I have an accepting family and was never rejected or cast out like so many of my peers. It was still a hard road to accept myself, however; years of being bullied and belittled about a sexuality that I didn’t even understand. It seemed everyone else was calling me out before I could even figure out who I was and it wasn’t fair.

What I did learn was something that took away my bullies’ power. If I was called gay or fag or whatever, my response was, yeah? And so? They didn’t have anything to say after that. My truth was revealed. I was no longer hiding.

It’s been 24 years since I came out. I’m 41 years old now and I’m probably more fearless than I have ever been. I’m happily married to a wonderful man. I’ve advocated through the years for LGBTQIA+ rights and I’ll be co-running our second pride event here on a US military base in South Korea. It’s been amazing, fulfilling and terrifying at the same time!

Pride means for me is being proud of yourself, being comfortable with yourself and finding love of a supportive foundation that will set the rest of your life. People will reject you for who you are, but there will always be people who will love and accept you. You just have to look for it and be open to it. We are here and we love you.

– Zach

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