A friend of mine is doing a project for her class in which she wanted to use me as the subject/example for and I agreed. Her and I already talked a lot about it but she still had some questions for me to answer and I thought why not share my answers with a few other people. Sorry for some of the repetition. I began with sharing this with a select few on Facebook but was encouraged to share it with everyone so I am taking a risk and doing just that. The repetition comes from this not originally being meant for publishing.
1. What situation/event has caused you to be insecure about coming out/insecure with your race?
Anything that fuels the negative connotations in people’s minds caused me to be insecure about my race and mainly being gay. I think when you can hear people’s honest thoughts about gay people without them being around someone they know are gay, you get more honest thoughts. When I would hear negative things, it just caused me to be insecure about coming out. Sometimes people’s thoughts and just wrong ideas can be emotionally draining to a hurtful point, but I think it makes you stronger to hear the truth.
2. Describe when you came out and your mom’s reaction.
Well I came out to my mom in a letter and by giving her the book the “Love Ellen” by Betty DeGeneres and we didn’t talk for a couple of days. She kind of knew it was coming so she just hadn’t opened the letter. Then when she did read it, what was upsetting most for her was that she felt I kind of betrayed our bond by not telling her before this point and not directly, because she has had such an honesty with me throughout my life. She did begin with, “first, I love you”. She asked me questions to kind of wrap her head around it and I answered her questions to change any misconceptions she had. When I came home for winter break a couple of weeks later, there was an even more relaxed conversation just kind of about having children, dating, and my type.
3. When did you know when you were gay?
There is no epiphany moment where you just all of a sudden know you’re gay. I think there is this lingering, something is different, but it takes a while before you truly know and accept, I’m gay. In my opinion, I think it’s common for guys to have a “bisexual” phase where you are starting to realize and be comfortable with
the idea I like guys. I started to really know I was gay in the spring of 2009 but I came to accept it later that fall.
4. Can you think of one particulary difficult bullying torment story? If so , describe.
a.) I think one kind of bullying moment was when one of the guys in my high school class was like doing this survey my sophomore year about whether or not I was gay and it was just this mean thing to do.
b.) Society causing insecurity with me being gay: I feel before coming out and being comfortable, society and even the people you know torment you with negative connotations sometimes. One time I was out to dinner with friends before I came out. They just had such negative opinions and stereotypes of gay people that I was so frustrated to where I wanted to cry.
5. Has college been a more tolerable place than high school was? Explain
I totally think college is a more tolerant place than high school. High school is so much about trying to make yourself secure by bringing other people down. High schoolers are openly judgmental. College students just don’t care as much and are more accepting. I think it makes it easier for gay people to come out. I have no regrets about when I chose to come out and when I talk about high school with my old high school friends now, they are sad and disappointed that they didn’t know what was going on with me but understand how much easier it was for to handle it myself.
6. How have you taken your past torments and made them into survival stories? 7. What can your story do to help other people?
I love talking with people so I think telling your story to others especially on an individual basis helps you not be a victim. I also think answering people’s questions changes negative connotations.
8. What do you have to say to the bullies now?
I am who I am and I have no shame or negativity about it. Hate comes from ignorance. If you take the time to talk with someone, you can help them be more open-minded or at least knowledgeable.
If you don’t like it, at least respect it.
9. Someone in your position, who is either given torment over their race/sexuality, why advice do you have for them?
The most important relationship/opinion that matters is the one you have with/of yourself. There will always be people with negative thoughts but take pride in who you, know that “it gets better”, and strive to succeed no matter what the obstacles are.
10. How has being bullied, being gay, or being an African-American changed the course of your life? If you weren’t gay/African-American, how would your life be different from it is now?
I just wouldn’t be who I am without all the experiences that I have had. “Every experience teaches you more fully who you really are.” I wouldn’t have my drive and passion to excel along with personality if I hadn’t had complications to deal with.
11. When you came out, was that a big relief? Do people treat you differently now? How is being openly gay different from keeping your sexuality a secret?
Coming out is a huge relief. Keeping your sexuality a secret is stressful and you have to worry about people finding out. It takes a toll on you. The week before my trip home, before the one I came out at, I felt this intense stress to come out to my mom and to the point where physically I was sick. But ever since then, I feel more pride in who I am. I think friends treat me different but in a good way. We are way more open with each other and I love it. (((By publishing this on my blog now, I am however opening myself up to being treated differently in a negative way.)))
12. Did you ever consider dealing with the torment from bullies in unhealthy ways? Explain
I think in any situation you go through, you consider a range of ideas but I don’t feel I’ve ever been at an extreme point of needing to deal with it in an unhealthy way. We have to feel all emotions to be stronger.
13. What do you think about high school bullying? How do you think it can be prevented?
Repetitive– high school bullying just comes from people trying to build themselves up by pulling others down. Students are at this point of having not encountered a diverse range of people but when we expose children to things at an earlier age, they aren’t so off put by it. Hatred comes from ignorance so bullying wouldn’t happen if we just explained differences in others at an early age.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me directly OR anonymously on Formspring at http://www.formspring.me/jarrydboyd.