Pride season is upon us, so we each wanted to take this opportunity to share our coming out stories. Here’s a snapshot of Drew’s 3 (yep, you read that right, THREE) coming out stories!
I started questioning my sexuality in high school, and my gender in college. When I reflect back on my life, like lots of queer people, I see all the signs indicating I was truly a guy. But, let’s start from the beginning…
The First Coming Out
My first coming out was an August night in 2010. That day, I took a girl I had a crush on to the local county fair. I bought her a pina colada flavored snow cone, we walked the whole place looking at all the animals, and talking about how we didn’t want to go on any rides. At the end of the night, she told me she wasn’t into me that way.
That night I came home pretty upset. My parents could tell and kept asking if I was okay, and I just kept saying I was fine since they didn’t even know I was attracted to girls. And little did I know I’d be coming out that night.
My family had a small fire in the backyard that night. We roasted marshmallows and just sat, talking, listening to music, staring at the fire. My dad had gone to bed not long after my brother and sister, leaving just my mom and I around the fire. It had been just the two of us for hours, and I spent the whole time yelling at myself internally “JUST TELL HER!”
It was about 1am when we finally put out the fire and packed up the backyard. As we were setting dishes in the sink and wandering to bed, I blurted out “mom, I like girls. I’m going to bed — night, love you!”
Naturally, my mom had questions and wanted to talk about things before going to bed. So, I explained what happened earlier and that I know I’m attracted to girls. She told me to stay focused on school and not worry about dating or who I’m attracted to for the time being. I did, for the most part.
After this first coming out, I continued to struggle with my identity over the next few years, but my attraction to girls never faded.
In 2012, I chopped off pretty much all of my hair, and styled it in a faux hawk. The week before I was getting my senior pictures taken. I loved it! My mom, though? Not so much...so we found a feminine way to style what little hair I had for my pictures. That was the first time I really altered my appearance in a dramatic way.
It was also this year that I started dating my now wife, Natalie. I told her I loved her 3 months into our relationship (I might be a dude, but I’m clearly an A+ U-Hauler!) and truly knew this relationship was more serious than any I’d ever even fathomed before.
The Second Coming Out
Because the relationship was so serious and I didn’t see Natalie going anywhere anytime soon, I told my parents about us and came out as gay. My parents didn’t really react well to the news. There was a lot of tension in the house for a while after that night. But, about a year later, they agreed to at least meet Natalie. Of course, they fell in love with her, like everyone does. Now, the ongoing joke is that Natalie’s invited to my family’s gatherings and I’m her plus one.
About a year after that, I realized I was transgender. I’d learned about the trans community via Tumblr (in fact, Chris was one of the first trans guys I followed) and felt an enormous sense of relief when I was able to finally understand the confusion I’d been feeling for so long. When I told Natalie that I was trans, she simply replied “I know, I’ve just been waiting for you to tell me.” I felt so much relief and comfort in her response.
I asked Natalie to refer to me as AJ, a childhood nickname, and start using he/him pronouns and traditionally male terminology (like saying I’m handsome) when talking to me. I slowly started asking professors to also refer to me as AJ as well.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I landed on Drew as my new name. The process felt long and difficult, but when I asked Natalie what she thought about changing my name to Drew, we both fell in love with it.
And The Final Coming Out
A little while after deciding on Drew, I came out to my parents and siblings. I wrote them a long, heart-felt, explanatory email, then texted them saying I’d emailed them something I wanted them to read. Besides my brother’s “yeah you’ve always been my brother” response and an “I love you” from my dad, we didn’t talk about the email or my trans identity for about a year.
Finally, in February 2016, I was set to start testosterone. I called my parents over to our apartment so I could tell them I’d be starting hormone replacement therapy...the next day. They weren’t really happy about it, but they kept reminding me that they loved me. They had questions, so we talked about those, what to expect, what changes would happen, etc. At the end of the night, I was happy I talked to them face-to-face about starting T.
It was about a year later that my parents started using the right pronouns and name for me in certain situations. If it was just us with my parents, they’d use my birth name and pronouns. But if we were around other people calling me Drew and using he/him pronouns, they’d follow suit.
Currently, my parents pretty exclusively call me Drew and use he/him pronouns. This year for my birthday they even got me “to our son” birthday cards. My parents needed time to accept who I was and realize that I am still the child they raised. I’m not angry with them for taking time to come around. They loved and supported me in that they remained in my life, gave me a home to come to no matter what, and listened even when they didn’t understand or even want to hear about it.
I may have had to endure coming out 3 separate times in my life, but, as cliche as it is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m beyond grateful for the support of my wife, my family, my in-laws, and so many others. Sure, there were hard times, but it was worth it.
I think it’s important to point out that you do not have to come out. If you aren’t safe, supported, or just simply not ready, you do not have to come out.
Happy Pride Month
Whether you’re out, an ally, coming out, or in the closet, happy pride, my friends! You are loved, supported, and valid.