Hey guys! Since this is Pride month and many of you do not know my "coming out" story I thought I would share with you. I think I've been putting it off for a while because I was afraid. I was afraid of what people would think of me or opening up those wounds would cause more damage than good but i've realized that you have to clean the wound before it can totally heal, so that's what i'm doing in sharing this with you. Cleaning the wound. So let's dive in.
Growing up I always felt like I was a little different than most kids. I was always sooo enthusiastic and energetic and had the highest pitched voice. It's not that I minded it. In fact, I embraced being the energetic, goofy kid with thick glasses. I felt it set me apart from everyone else and I was ok with that. I did get picked on as a kid though, which was the opposite of fun. I feel like it was just because I was different or people didn't get me that caused me to get made fun of or picked on. I remember a moment in second grade, the teacher had us all draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a picture of ice skates. It was something that I always wanted to do. That and gymnastics but my mom, at the time, would not let me do gymnastics because that's not what little boys did in small towns. I played baseball instead. I missed every ball at every game and hated every minute of it. I didn't really let it show because I knew they were proud of me for playing regardless. I'm digressing here. So I drew a picture of ice skates and some of the kids made fun of me because I said I wanted to be an ice skater. It hurt me so much because I couldn't understand why that was a bad thing or why it was funny. That moment began the building blocks of walls that I started to build in my mind and heart against what I was supposed to be, which was myself.
As I grew up in my little town of Albertville, Alabama and got older, the layers of blocks got thicker and thicker. I would do things that made people question my sexuality and I didn't understand why. I was just doing what made me happy. I remember one instance in my 7th grade history class we had a high school helper come over and sit with the teachers to assist. I'll never forget; I was having my computer time at the teachers desk and the high school helper and another classmate of mine was looking at what I had on the computer, which was abstract artwork. I always loved art and looking at other peoples work and I remember they asked me point blank in front of the whole class, "Are you gay?". I'm getting chills sitting here typing this because I remember this moment plain as day and it still hurts. Of course I quickly shut off the computer and said something smart back to them to assure them I was not. Another block around my heart went up that day.
I was so curious in my sexuality growing up and trying to understand what all these feelings I had inside me meant. I thought it was just curiosity. I would look at pictures online of various things, as young boys do, not knowing why I was drawn to that instead of girls. I grew up in a VERY southern church community. My moms uncle Raymond was a 92 yr. old pastor in a church that would go and baptize members in a creek out back if you know where I'm going. It was VERY conservative and was always preached that gay people were going to hell and that they were sinners and a shame in the eyes of God. Well, I didn't want to be a shame before God. I wanted to go to Heaven! I One specific day, when I was in 8th grade, I had just gotten home from school. I had printed a picture of two guys kissing a few days before and ended up throwing it away in my bathroom trash can - but my stepdad found it. I got home that day and walked passed my parents bathroom and saw the picture unfolded on the counter and I remember my heart dropping into my butt. I quickly went to my bedroom where I heard my mom call to me, "Kyle! can you come here for a minute? I want to talk to you." I felt like I was going to throw up. I sat down at the kitchen table and I remember the look she gave me. That look of such utter disappointment. She asked me about it and began to scold me and tell me she didn't know why she took me to church and how disgusting that was. I obviously denied I was the one who printed that picture off. I had blamed it on my brother, who had come out not too long ago so it would be fitting but she didn't believe me. I felt so embarrassed and like something was wrong with me or that I was messed up in the head in some way.
Did you hear where I mentioned my brother was gay as well? Yeah! His coming out was not received well at all by my family which further suppressed my feelings of who I was. Year after year went by. With my brother moving out to go live with my dad in Michigan, me trying to be "normal", going to a new church where I met new friends, hearing more and more about how being gay was wrong, I had suppressed my emotions and thoughts of being gay so far down I couldn't see them anymore. Years had gone by and I lived my life. I was happy with my life. I went to college, had great friends, was making my own money. Life was good! But I always felt a sense of low self-worth or a longing for something and I had no idea why until I came out and literally, it was like Hoover Dam exploding. All those emotions that I had pressed down since I was a little boy came pouring out.
After my second year of community college in Alabama I moved to Chattanooga, TN to live with my Meme and go to school there. I got a job at a local bank and was going to school. All was perfect. I went to my Meme's church because I was so involved with church then that she wanted me to go with her. I quickly got involved in the church. I had joined the choir, joined a college and career group, where I met Lindsey. Ah yes, Lindsey. She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen and we quickly became friends. We started dating shortly there after. We had a wonderful friendship and love that I would not trade for the world. I had never been that close to somebody before and it felt good. After about 8-9 months of dating we decided to get married. Yep! We tied the knot on October 18th, 2008 at a little plantation in Georgia. Everyone in our college and career group was getting married and having kids, so I thought that I should, too. I was so in love with her and her family. They were and are the sweetest, most giving people you'll ever meet in your life and I felt so lucky to be apart of their lives. It seemed perfect at the time.
We spent 8 wonderful years together. From starting off in a rinky dink apartment, to buying our first home together and eventually a dog. As happy as I was, I always felt like I wanted more or needed more and I wasn't sure why I could never just let myself be satisfied. I felt happy, I thought. Here I was with a beautiful wife, house, dog and a great family. What else did I need? I didn't know. I just thought this is what everybody goes through and feels so I just dealt with it.
In 2015 Lindsey and I moved to Nashville, TN because of our jobs and because we loved visiting Lindseys sister, Britt. The Nashville lifestyle was busier and more lively than Chattanooga but in a good way - we loved it! It was May of 2016 that I started my blog StayFoxx. I wanted to start a blog about style, food, art etc. and thought it was a good place for me to have all that in one website. So I did. I started blogging and taking pictures of my outfits and it was fun. I then started to get comments from guys about my style and how much they liked it and thought I was cute and handsome. I think that started the beginning of those blocks that I had built up for so long starting to chip away. I was so curious as to why they would think I was cute or handsome. I honestly had a bit of an "Ew!" factor at first but then I couldn't stop thinking about their comments and them thinking I was cute.
Why was I so concerned or thinking about them saying that to me? I didn't know but it was bothering me and I was struggling with it inside. In August of 2016 I went to Chicago with my parents to visit my brother. That was the first time I had been anywhere with them alone and all together as a family since I was in my teens and anywhere without Lindsey since we got married 8 years ago. I will say that it was that trip, for whatever reason, that I ultimately hit a brick wall. It was almost instantly that I knew why I was so concerned about those comments and why it bothered me so much. Also, seeing how loving my parents were to my brother and his life as a gay man had opened my eyes to how much they had grown and understood his struggle and realized that being gay wasn't a choice. On the last day of our trip I literally told my parents I wasn't feeling well. I was so sick to my stomach that I had come to this realization. I spent the whole day in bed crying because I knew who I finally was but also because the life that I had built for 8 years was about to come crashing down and I couldn't stomach it. I spoke to Lindsey several times on the trip and she knew something was bothering me. I told her my brother was being a jerk of course to throw her off of the real issue. I wanted to wait till I could see her face to face to bring myself to tell her what I had been feeling inside.
We left Chicago on a Saturday and the whole trip home I was nauseous and sad and mad and all the emotions you can think of because of what was about to happen. I got off the plane and drove home where I met Lindsey and our dog. Immediately she knew something was wrong with me. I had this cold/frozen look on my face. We proceeded to walk and we ended up by the cemetery, ironically, where I finally broke my silence and told her, "I'm gay". I'll never forget the look on her face when I told her. I couldn't believe what was happening. Our whole world came crashing down beside the cemetery. It's like I was putting a nail into the coffin of our life together. We went home crying where we opened up the door to find Britt, Lindseys sister, cooking us all dinner. We were both crying and she immediately got upset and started crying with us without knowing at first what was going on. She's such an amazing person who cares so deeply for the ones she loves so naturally she was very upset for the both of us. She was ultimately loosing a brother that she had always wanted and it killed me.
Weeks went by where Lindsey and I cried and cried for days together and I kept telling her how sorry I was that I had lied to her. Looking back on it, when I was younger, I wish I had just been honest with myself or had someone to talk to about these feelings I was having, rather than pressing those feelings down inside causing this false sense of happiness and normalcy. I could then have avoided all of this pain I caused. I would not trade a moment I spent with Lindsey or her family. I loved them all so much and still do. I never would want to hurt them for anything in the world, yet there I was breaking their hearts, along with my own.
To them I say this: I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain that I caused you. I never meant to hurt anyone, especially Lindsey. I know now more than ever that you have to be true to yourself even when everyone around you is telling you that what you're feeling or wanting is wrong. You were my family and we had so many amazing memories, along with some sad ones, that I wouldn't trade for the world. I feel forever bonded with you guys and hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for the pain I have caused you all. I love you! To Lindsey: You were my rock for 8 years and hurting you will be one of my life's biggest regrets. You knew me at my worst and you knew me at my best and I will always be grateful to you for showing me what it means to love somebody. You take after your mom in that you are the most selfless person I've ever met and I couldn't have been more proud to call you my wife. I want nothing but happiness for you and if you ever need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen I'll be here for you. I feel that a friendship with you is better than not having you in my life at all.
I think because I was so scared that it was hard to be honest with myself in fear of rejection. I had already felt rejected whenever my parents got divorced when I was seven. That's something that sticks with kids their whole life and I didn't want to be rejected, so I mentally changed who I was to make others happy.
Now, I have sworn to myself that I would never let someones opinion about who I am or who I should be ever drive my life again despite it upsetting them or them rejecting me. Ultimately, I was rejecting myself and that was the void that I had been feeling when I told myself something was missing. I was missing myself. My identity. I am more me now than I have ever been and I'm not apologetic for it in the least bit. I have met a wonderful man whom I love very much. You all may already know him. If you don't his name is Cameron. We've been together for over 2 years now and we are like two peas in a pod. He is my everything and I love him dearly.
I have learned the most valuable lesson life can throw at you and that's to be honest with yourself and trust in who you are no matter what. If you or someone you know is questioning their sexuality, please do not run from it, scoot it under the rug or tell them it's wrong. Listen to them and let them know that you are there to support them and answer any questions they may have. Or, if you don't know how to talk to them about their sexuality, find someone you trust that can and will empathize with how they are feeling. Life is too precious and sweet to waste doing things to make others happy in the fear of being rejected or tossed aside. There are plenty of people that want to love you and be there to lift you up.
I hope this story has helped someone that may be struggling with coming out and being true to who you really are. I can honestly say that it's more common than I ever thought. Since coming out I've had so many people tell me they are struggling with the same thing and it breaks my heart. Please be kind to yourselves and be brave and strong. Always know that I am here to lend an ear and talk if you need me. I don't want anyone to feel alone like I did with those feelings. It's a dark and scary place to be and has taken many lives before and I was lucky to have friends and a supportive family to help pull me out of that darkness. If you do not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and talk. I am here for you.
Happy Pride! Happy Life! God bless!