It took me 23 years to come out even though no one close to me was homophobic.
It took me 23 years to come out even though I had no religious affiliation telling me not to.
It took me 23 years to come out even though I knew I wouldn’t lose any friends and my family would accept me.
It took me 23 years to come out even though I had always been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights.
It took me 23 years to come out even though many of my friends were gay and I saw how happy being out made them.
It took me 23 years to come out even though I watched America take so many incredible steps forward for LGBTQ people in that time.
It took me 23 years to come out even though the only person stopping me was me.
Because coming out is scary in even the best of circumstances, and my heart aches for those who will find themselves grappling with their identities in Donald Trump’s America, an America that seems to be telling them to repress who they are because that beautiful wonderful amazing part of them somehow makes them less than.
Since the election, there have been multiple reports of suicides and suicide attempts by LGBTQ youth. Real human lives lost because they felt they no longer had a right to exist in this nation. This goes far beyond a fear of losing the right to get married, though that is a very real and awful thing to have to face. This is about our physical and mental safety.
Our government may or may not continue to acknowledge our right to be here, but we do have a right to be here. Staying will be scary and fighting will be hard, but for me nothing is as hard as repressing something that is so deeply part of who I am. So I’m not going to. I vow to be louder and prouder than ever and to remember that there are millions of people in this country who will continue to love us not in spite of our identities but because of them. I don’t quite know yet where to start fighting back, but I’m determined to figure it out. Over 60 million people voted for equality on November 8th, and it comforts me to know that all of them are here for us. We are not fighting alone.