Five lessons I learned coming out at a young age

DC Constant
6 min readDec 22, 2020

What coming out young taught me

Photo Credit: Unsplash-Tobias Nii Kwatei Quartey

I remember when I was 12, it was the summer before starting seventh grade and I came to a decision that summer. I had decided that I was going to come out to close family and also friends at school. I was going to let those around me know I was gay. I had come to this decision after months of grappling with it. I remember sitting there thinking to myself, this was not going to be easy.

I knew backlash was coming each and every way. It was going to be crap coming from everywhere. Whether from my family, friends and the kids at school. And I’m not sure why at that age, I felt that so many people needed to know; but deep down in my heart, I knew this needed to happen for the pivotal evolution for the essence of who I was going to be. And it was in those moments that would soon follow, which would lead to my development as a Man in society.

There were five key basic elements learned from that experience that I have now been able to identify during my years as an adult.

1. Authority figures are not always correct

For me growing up the first authority figures I knew were not the police or the administrators at school but my parents, my elders and my pastor at church at that time. And I remember coming out to these people and the mixed responses I got.

One common response I received from them and many others was that being gay was a sin, and to identify with such a thing would separate me from God. And most people who come out young when hearing such things would question and doubt themselves and internalize what was said to them (understandably so, since it is your elders telling you this). However, I remember hearing this over and over again, and each time I was shocked. I was shocked to realize that these people were wrong….

Because as young as I was, I knew that the notion that being gay was wrong or a sin wasn’t correct, I didn’t know how to articulate or express it at the time, but deep in my heart I knew and felt it wasn’t right. And that would be one of the many defining moments in which I saw my parents and elders around me as people. Not these invincible adults who always knew right and always made the right decisions, but as humans who can sometimes err, who are sometimes flawed and sometimes incorrect.

2. Sometimes you have to be your own reference point

Before coming out, I remember searching through the archives of my mind for a reference point. A reference point of someone who I actually knew who had came out and better yet came out at a young age. Someone who was a Man, Black, Haitian and openly Gay. Alas, none of those filters were found and my search came up blank. There was no reference point for me to refer to. I had to be the sacrificial lamb for myself. I had to be my own reference point.

So many times in life when we are doing something, that seems to be the impossible or difficult, we quickly scan our memory banks to find something similar to hold onto to help us believe we can do it and go forth with faith. But sometimes that reference point does not exist, and it us who are now going to have to establish one for ourselves and hopefully others as well in the process.

So most times when I am faced with adversity or the seemingly impossible; I think back to that young black 12 year old boy who didn’t really have anyone to understand his journey but God and how he pushed through. And how he did not allow anyone to tell him who the hell he was. Or to drive fear into his heart, and he just moved forth in faith knowing one day, He’d be on top of what once seemed like an impossible situation to go through.

3. Faith keeps you focused

It was tough at a such a young age, and under your parents rule and jurisdiction dealing with all the scrutiny of coming out young. At one point I literally couldn’t understand why people treated me so differently. I remember at one point being so angry with the world and not comprehending the prejudice I was facing. I realized people are truly afraid of what they don’t understand. But what kept me pushing was holding onto the notion that one day Gay Marriage would be legalized and to see that one day being gay would be no different than being straight.

Now while, there’s still some work needing to be done in that department, I think the world is coming a long way. Gay marriage has been legalized. I know that someday I can marry the guy I desire to be with. I don’t have to settle for a domestic partnership. I can have the same rights as my heterosexual counterparts.

I now get to see on TV, couples that look like relationships I’ve been in. It’s like seeing myself on TV. I just knew one day this would have to come to pass. That the prejudice surrounding me couldn’t last for long. As the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.

I just knew there was going to be a day I was going get to the end of that staircase.

4. Other people’s perception of you is not your responsibility

Growing up I used to hear people tell me how they still loved me despite my “Lifestyle” choices. And I remember always thinking to myself when hearing that, “what lifestyle?” I don't recall me going to “Gay meetings” every week to discuss living this supposed gay lifestyle. This isn’t the mob. I always hated hearing that, because being gay to me was no different than being straight in my eyes. Because straight people don’t look at being straight as a “lifestyle choice”, so why should I view being gay with that perception?

It was then I realized I am not responsible for the way other people perceive me. People perceive you based on their innate beliefs, experiences and sometimes traumas. And guess what? Those are all things you can’t control. So if I can’t control it then I am not responsible for it.

I remember discussing sexuality with an old friend a while back. And that friend said something so simple yet astounding. Their exact words were “Being gay is not a lifestyle, it is a sexuality, the sooner people can realize that, the better off we all will be”. It was so simple yet so true.

5. Own who you are and no one can use it against you.

I’ve learned during that time to own who I was there was no reason for me to be ashamed, fearful or anything of the sort. No one could ever intimidate me when it came to the subject of my sexuality, I owned it, embraced it and I didn’t see it as a detriment to my character. I never once ever thought to myself, my life would be so much more easier, if I was straight. And that’s because there are so many straight people out there with just as tough lives as their gay or LGBT counterparts. Sexuality is only part of the equation but it doesn’t make up the whole formula.

I’ve applied these notions to my everyday life because of the moments I’ve had growing up. I have owned my mistakes and all my decisions, realizing they form the very man that I am. Everything truly is from my perception a lesson or a blessing. I think of how my best decisions and worst ones, brought me to where I am, and how they made me a stronger individual.

Having those experiences growing up, aged me and I felt in some ways made me wiser. If I didn’t have those experiences at the time in my life, I don’t think I would be this fearless man that I am today. And don’t get me wrong there have been many times I have lost my way. There were times I became doubtful, fearful, pessimistic and even bitter.

But whenever I lose my way, I remember that young black 12 year old boy, who didn’t let nothing stand in his way. And that young black 12 year old boy is now 27. And what he now realizes today is that no one can take away the power that lies in him unless he chooses to give it away.

Most times, I never have to look around me for strength or the will to go forward in the many challenges I face. Instead I can look within.

Because I have become my own reference point.

--

--

DC Constant

An Innovator, sharing the wisdow of my journey with each written word Please subscribe as I make the commitment to post weekly posts.