Kari, age 8
Franklin, WI (1989)
I hear it all the time: There's no such thing as being born gay. It's all in our environment, and can be controlled and suppressed.
And to that, I say: That's total BS.
I've known I was gay since I was age 5. I grew up a tomboy, loving rough and tumble play, getting dirty, catching various snakes and bugs, and bringing them home to show mom.
I also owned as many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, clothes, and accessories as possible. I hated being dressed up girlie and often put up a huge fuss whenever my parents made me do so.
I didn’t even know what 'gay' was then though, and I convinced myself that I was supposed to be a boy - as only boys liked girls. It took many years for me to learn what a homosexual was. And when I did, I was terrified that I was going to have a long and horrible life.
Thankfully, my coming out process was fairly stress free - but my parents used to make negative comments about gay people. However, when the time came for me to tell them in my early 20's, they were nothing but supportive.
My friends are all so pro-gay and loving, and it feels great to have so much support and acceptance from them. I can count on them to always have my back with any gay rights' issues we face today. They definitely made my own coming out a very smooth one, and to this day I can be fully out and proud with no worries of what others think.
For people that I know who have to suppress who they truly are, simply to please others around them, I just say that you need live life to your own expectations and not someone else's.
It is your life and you need to do what's best for you. Be honest with yourself and you'll be happier in the long run.
It will be difficult to start, but believe me - it does get better.