Trace, Orlando, Florida
I’m from the Deep South. I always knew I was gay. It was never a big issue for me. It didn’t affect the way I thought about myself or make me feel like any less of a man than the other guys at my school or the friends I grew up with. It never occurred to me that I had some need or desire to come out. Over time my family and friends realized I was gay, but there was no need to talk about that, any more than who my brother was dating, or the private lives of other family members. If someone feels the need to ask me directly about my sexual preference, I have a few responses. If you’re an important person in my life, I’ll say yes of course I’m gay. If I’m asked in connection to a civil rights issue, I’m happy to stand up and be counted as gay and fight for our rights, as I do for all civil liberties. If you’re a relative stranger and are prying, I take the Southerner’s approach by politely saying that it’s my personal business and has nothing to do with you.