When a person decides to come out, it’s supposed to be liberating. Your spirit breaks out of this jail cell it’s been locked in, and you finally begin to feel accepted in this complicated world.
For me, it was not that easy.
In 2013, I came out.
You’re probably asking yourself how can an individual come out twice? Well, when I look at the idea of “coming out”I don’t automatically relate it to sexuality. I believe that people, who are coming out, are finally accepting an aspect of themselves that they’ve been insecure or hiding from the public for a long period of time.
My first closet dealt with my eyes. From birth, I struggled with being insecure about my vision. I was born with congenital glaucoma, a disability that left me blind out of one of my eyes. The aspect that frustrated me the most was there was no way to reverse blindness.
You break your arm and it heals.
You break your leg and it heals.
You go blind, and there’s no going back.
When I got to high school, I paid little attention towards my glaucoma. Kids matured so the teasing and bullying died down. I was then able to start discovering things about myself that were positive, and honing in on those skills.
Speech Team allowed me to do exactly that.
Being apart of this community showed me my love and passion for writing, and the impact my words could have. I remember the first speech I wrote titled, “Who Am I”. It was an Original Oratory talking about being a gentleman in today’s society. That piece took me all the way to Sectionals, and I was only a freshman. That experience made me realize that not only do I have a talent, but that my words could persuade and inspire a group of people
Two years later, I decided to write an informative speech titled, “Eye See It Differently”, a piece inspired from my experience with glaucoma. I decided to unlock that door of shame and pity that had been consuming me, and use it in a much more positive outlet.
This was one of the biggest risks I have ever taken.
I was so scared because for the first time I was putting myself in a vulnerable position with my writing. I was going to talk, and even joke, about something so personal, and I didn’t know how my audience would react to that
Little did I know this would be the best decision of my life.
February 16, 2013. At the Peoria Civic Center, two individuals are left on stage. Elizabeth Woo and myself.
“And your runner up in Informative Speaking…”
I take a breath.
My body was in shock. I had just come out the closet
The medal was great, don’t get me wrong, but that was not what gave me the joy. Coaches coming up to me saying people from their team were inspired to write from watching my speech, that’s what gave me joy.
For the first time in my life I realized that my words matter, and that I could accomplish and inspire so much through writing.
I was so driven after winning state that not only did I decide I was majoring in journalism but I created my own blog, titled Eye See It Differently. I wanted to share with the world my writings and begin inspiring through my words.
Life at that point seemed so great that I decided now was the perfect time to come out again. I knew how guys made me feel, and honestly I loved it. I accepted myself for who I was and I didn’t care if the world knew.
Coming out felt great… then everything changed.
I had a teacher by the name of Mr. Wall. Words can’t describe how much this man meant to me. I had the opportunity of having him as my teacher, director, and as my speech coach.
What I respected about him the most was how much he challenged me.
I instagramed this pic last November right after our production of Leap of Faith, directed by Mr. Wall.
The caption read: A director, friend, and big brother all in one picture. K Wall.
In our production he casted me as Jake, a little boy who was disabled after a tragic car accident; but believed that this preacher who just arrived in their town could cure him. This was the most difficult role I ever had to play. I was singing songs outside my range, while also having to execute this pain from being confined to a wheelchair. There were times in rehearsal where I wanted to give up because I didn’t think I could do it.
He was the reason I didn’t.
That role wound up being one of my most successful portrayals I ever did in high school.
He believed in me so much. Sometimes when I didn’t believe in myself. Whether it was a play he was directing or an assignment he gave me in his creative writing class, he pushed me to my limits and made me feel like anything was possible.
Somewhere in my relationship with Mr. Wall, things got complicated. I wish to this day I can go back and “un”complicate it.
I can’t go into detail on what happened, but he played a major role in my coming out.
Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Multiply that by 10, and that’s how I felt when I realized my mentor took his life.
I couldn’t believe it. The person who made me realize all my potential was no longer here to watch me chase my dreams.
I didn’t come to school for weeks after I heard the news. Even when I came back things weren’t easy. Felt like I was pushing through the days. It got to a point where no matter how much I prayed, went to therapy, or cried I was still feeling so much pain. So, I did what naturally came to me. I wrote about it. I blogged a story “Are You Okay” basically documenting my life after Mr. Wall’s passing. Getting all those emotions out felt amazing. I was bottling so much in for months and I finally felt a pinch of relief. I meant to go back and delete the blog, but I wound up not doing it.
Now, I’m so thankful I didn’t.
Remember how I said in high school I ignored my glaucoma. Well, when I came to college I treated the tragedy the same way. That was a dark point in my life that I had no point in revisiting.
A few weekends ago I was working on a group project with one of my friends. We take a break from the assignment, and she mentions to me how she read my blog “Are You Okay?”, and was seeking my advice of what she was going through. Halloween weekend, she found out that her best friend died in a freak accident. She had been feeling so many emotions and after reading my blog, she felt comfortable confiding to me.
That moment right there showed me why I write.
I’ve been through a lot of hardships in my life. What I realized is that sulking doesn’t change anything. I believed I was brought into this world to inspire. To speak up and say “Hey, I’ve been through hell and I’m still fighting, and so can you”. The only way I’m going be able to inspire though is through my writings.
I used to be afraid to write about intimate subjects. Never in a million years did I think my glaucoma story and the situation with Mr. Wall would be public for the world to see. However, I am so happy they are. What started as a therapeutic method to get out my emotions has turned into a way to inspire our youth. I write about things that people are afraid to. However, I realized I’m doing this to show people they are not alone. With a pen or keyboard, I’m able to connect to that person who’s struggling with a disability, that person who is afraid to come out, and that person who has lost a friend. My friend served as my reminder why I continue to write. Language allows you to see that you matter, people are going through the same things as you are, and that you can keep fighting.
That’s why I write and that’s why I’m not giving up.
Coming out was not easy.
I survived though.
Now it’s time to come up