Just a few years ago, I could have never imagined myself where I am today. I was born and raised in small-town Texas. While I love and feel proud of the town that I grew up in, and still call it home to this day, I sprinted across the country after high school graduation to a place where I thought I could broaden my horizons and finally embrace myself as the person I grew up trying to avoid being. UNC has truly allowed me to find myself and discover who I am. I have made the best friends, experiences and memories during my time at Carolina.
Now, I need to take another big step on my journey. As student body president, I have found myself feeling hypocritical toward so many of my peers, professors and fellow community members. I use my platform to assure other students that they can be themselves, yet I have failed to do that myself.
In the midst of all the change the world is going through right now, I have felt more empowered than ever to stand up and be truthful, not only to myself, but also to those around me:
I am gay.
Not too long ago, if you would have told me that there was something inside me that made me gay, I would have done anything and everything to rip it out of me. I used to pray every single night to be straight. To be “normal.” I would spend my Sundays at the church altar, praying and pleading with God to change me. Now, however, I know who I am, and I know who I am meant to be.
It took me so long to realize that I do not owe anyone anything. I should not worry about what other people think about me coming out, and I should not have to consider whether or not I make people uncomfortable by doing so. I should not even have to come out in the first place.
But, I have been given a platform by my fellow Carolina students to represent and stand up for student values. I regret that it took me so long to speak my truth, but I am so proud to have the opportunity to show my authentic self. I feel like I have been holding my breath my whole life, and now it is finally time to exhale. I am who I am, and no one can ever take that away from me.
I hope this can serve as a reminder that no one is ever alone. Being closeted is extremely isolating and difficult, and I am sharing this to provide myself as a confidant for anyone who has ever felt the same. If you ever need anything, or someone to talk to, I am always here.
Please, never hesitate to reach out.
UNC Student Body President
P.S. I would never have had the courage to share this with the world without the help and support of the best friends I could ask for (you know who you are). Thank you all so much.
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