W.S., 22, He/Him/His

How did you come out to your parents? How was the coming out process?

I never actually “came out” to my parents. They ended up discovering my internet history and conversations between other guys when I was around 14 years old. From that moment forward, there was a shared understanding between my parents and I regarding my emotional and sexual desire towards guys, but we never really discussed my sexuality in much detail.

How did things change after you come out?

There was definitely an awkward energy between my parents and I after they found out I was gay. Part of this uneasiness was due to my own insecurities associated with being gay and not wanting anyone to know that I wasn’t “normal.” No one in my high school was out and I definitely felt ashamed of who I was for a good amount of my experience there.Fortunately, as I entered college and left my hometown, I stopped caring what others thought of me and learned to love myself.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

Two things. Stop caring what others think of you; just live for yourself and those that you love. Also, it’s okay to say “no.”

Do you think brands who only release LGBTQ+ campaigns during Pride season are sincere in their support?

I think that a lot of these companies were just trying target the LGBTQ+ community for monetary gain rather than sincerely supporting them. How many of these companies spoke out or took action in response to bills that worked to revoke personal freedoms and rights from the LGBTQ+ community?