By ERIK MEDINA
Imagine a boy named John. He’s gay and until recently, didn’t want anyone to know because he feared abuse, neglect and even abandonment.
He waited for the right time and finally decided to come out. Surprisingly, John’s parents embraced his announcement while offering hugs and kisses.
This is a dream for many members of the LGBTQ+ community but realistically, coming out remains a daunting goal.
It isn’t something that just happens. We don’t ritually chant at a full moon, “I’m gay,” “I’m bisexual” or “I’m trans,” expecting everyone we know to be OK with it.
Like grief, coming out has stages. Take it from Cindy Fragozo and Ricardo Serventi, students at Pima Community College who are openly LGBTQ.
Serventi: I thought, ‘I can’t be that.’ I knew other people were; it didn’t bother me. I just thought I couldn’t be that. It felt surreal. It felt strange to think that I was, but it also felt right at the same time.
Fragozo: I never really had a realization that I was bi. I didn’t feel attraction to just one specific gender.
I didn’t think much of it until around middle school, where I noticed that some people thought it was weird to not be straight. That’s when I started to feel a bit self-conscious about myself and uncomfortable whenever someone brought up if they liked someone.
FEAR OR WORRIES
Serventi: I had no worries whatsoever, although, I did not see the point of labeling myself as LGBTQ because I was still the same person as before. It was just that who I would see myself with changed, so what should I fear?
Fragozo: There was this certain fear that I can’t fully explain that I thought about. I felt like the people I was closest to would look at me differently for my sexuality.
Serventi: I first saw myself as openminded to both genders. But as I grew older, I saw that I couldn’t be with females. Only males. I felt at peace with myself when I realized it, but again, it was surreal when I was listening to myself say it.
Fragozo: When I first started to be more open about myself, it felt oddly freeing. It was nice because I finally started to feel like I was being myself.
While there are always going to be jerks that try to ruin it, that feeling of freedom is really nice. I felt more open and confident and wanted to actually share parts of my bi self with people.
To go from acting like I totally didn’t think that girl was cute to actually saying it out loud was nice, and not even saying it in a gay way. I remember trying to not comment on a girl’s appearance at all because I didn’t want to come off as gay, which is funny for me to look back at it now.
Serventi: I didn’t believe myself, on my identity, until I told someone. Hearing myself say it to another person was kind of the seal. The people that I first told were my friends. I was met with acceptance from them.
My family still doesn’t know. But I came out to everyone else a few months ago, I think. Honestly, school has been keeping me too busy to really keep track.
Fragozo: I didn’t really ever have a distinct moment where I came out. I’m just always sharing my praise of women. Luckily, I have a family that isn’t against LGBTQ people so it wasn’t too nerve-racking. Everyone I told was very supportive and I’m lucky to have that.
I don’t have a moment where I outright told them. I think we all knew and accepted it. I’ve been out since freshmen year of high school, so five years out of my 20 years. It’s such a small chunk of my life. I never really looked at it that way until now.
Serventi: My two best friends are Cindy and Erik. They both are LGBTQ as well. So, they were incredibly helpful when I came out.
Fragozo: I have my best friends Erik and Ricky that I can express my full bisexual feelings to and they’re really supportive. It helps that they both aren’t straight, which is nice. We all just share our gay feelings together.
TAKING THE STEP
We can’t just say coming out happens one way, because it doesn’t.
The thing to remember when coming out is to surround yourself with people you care for and who care for you.
Serventi and Fragozo are best friends. That Erik person they’re talking about, well that’s me.
When I finally decided to come out, I wasn’t met with hugs and kisses, but I was accepted. My family and friends supported me and that was what really mattered.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment,” that’s what I intend to do.