Pride and Prejudice: "Where Is The Love?!"

I never thought outside of the box growing up. My mind was extremely closed to society and I took everything for granted, but I went to church every Sunday, and I always nodded my head in agreement, because that was the right thing to do. In my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, I lived a very safe life. I grew up with normal friends, went to a normal school, and I did normal things. My mom read the bible every morning, and my dad loved to talk about his days as a football player in high school getting any girl he wanted. I loved being normal little Tommy. Little did I know, I would someday find myself on the other side of what was considered normal to a lot of society, including my parents.

During my childhood, it was normal for me to hear the very rude comments from my parents about gay people. Little things I may have said or did with my hands seemed to always prompt the question from my mom "Thomas are you gay?" or "You aren't queer, are you?" While my dad would make statements like "Silly faggot, dicks are for chicks." And that one time when he told me that if he ever found out I was gay he would disown me. Hearing those comments all of the time started making me feel insecure, and I couldn't understand why at the time.

It wasn't until High School that I started questioning my sexuality. I tried to ignore it. I tried to talk myself out of it. I knew the consequences that would come from it. I mean hell, I was probably 2 years into my relationship with my girlfriend! I tried my hardest to be what I thought normal was, and I tried to make myself as much of a man that I could. I walked around trying to lower my voice, started working out, made sure I bragged to everyone every time I had sex with my girlfriend, and tried to give off this weird "I don't care" attitude. None of it seemed to work because I still went home every day to watch gay porn, and during my senior year, my girlfriend broke up with me because she obviously knew me better than everyone else; she knew I had some soul searching to do. And that's exactly what I did. I found myself.

Fast forward to Christmas Day 2013. I had already messed around with guys at this point, and I knew I was gay. The only person who knew were my 2 best friends, and my sister, Kristen. My friends were actually very supportive. I told them by sitting down in the empty gym, and basically spilling my guts out over the phone. They pretty much knew already, because they had found gay porn on my computer a while back. This was great. Here were 2 very masculine, active military guys and they didn't even care? "You're no different" they said. The same couldn't be said for my family. While in the kitchen that Christmas Day, my mom asked her usual joking question "Thomas, are you gay?" and to my surprise, Kristen answered her with a "yes, he is!" Things immediately got real. Like really real. All of my childhood worries, along with those comments, came flooding back to me as I laid in my bed and cried. My mom went up to my bedroom and told me she didn't agree, while also crying. I ended up being so paranoid about the tension that I packed up my things and moved to another city.

Indianapolis, Indiana was where I started to feel accepted for who I was. I found random roommates, who turned out to be gay, and also very interesting. They were a group of friends who took me in as one of their own. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, but I had another issue. No job, which meant no money, and somehow I found myself doing something completely out of my comfort zone: gay porn. I participated in 3 adult films, and decided to quit. After that, I just felt so much shame, and I knew that if my family wasn't ok with me being gay, how the hell would I explain my job as a gay pornography actor?! These events led me to my participation in MTV's recent reality series Suspect alongside my sister. It was like coming out all over again, but publically. I had mixed feedback, but I accomplished my goal, which was to get everything off of my chest and maybe help someone in any sort of similar situation, while also physically showing my family how I felt about everything. The series' co-host iO Tillet Wright gave me a very inspiring speech about how I should never feel ashamed about being gay, and that I shouldn't give a shit about what people think about my decisions. She tried to explain to me that I should never feel like I am less of a person because of my sexuality, and I agreed, but at the time I had never actually experienced a situation where I was treated badly for being gay.

This brings me to an event that happened just 2 days ago. I recently moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to start anew with my boyfriend, Clayton. Usually Clayton and I keep to ourselves when it comes to our relationship and the public. We don't show much PDA, everyone knows we are together so we don't really have to force anything. We also know that not everyone is ok with gay PDA, let alone any PDA. (It really is kind of unnecessary) Anyways, Clayton and I were enjoying the night out with some friends at a bar, and we coincidentally had to go to the bathroom at the same time. We were pretty drunk, and there was absolutely nobody in this bathroom, so we give each other a quick kiss, and laugh about it. Not even a make-out type of kiss, just a harmless peck. Well as we did that an employee walks into the bathroom. The employee goes directly to one of our friends and tells him that he's going to have to remove his "sissy faggot" friends from the bar. He then does exactly that, and stands at the front door refusing to let us back in, or even giving us a reason as to why he kicked us out. Mind you, he is the only person that even knew we kissed in the empty bathroom. We stood there asking his exact reasoning for about 10 minutes before we gave up. The night ends there.

The point of this article is to open up about my story, and to help people who are struggling with just being themselves. I had the balls to come out to basically the entire world at once, and I did that partly with the intent to help people watching. And after all those inspiring words from iO, I seem to still feel like less of a person at times like that night because I am gay. Never, and I repeat never let anybody tell you who you should be. It's not that you aren't right, it's that some of society still prefers to hate people because they do not have the same views. Even in 2016! That event gave me an entire new outlook on everything. Life will hit you with some bad stuff, but as long as you stay positive, you will find yourself happier than you've ever been. I shouldn't have to tell the reader that discrimination isn't right. People should never have to walk around experiencing this type of hate, no matter their sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. I think I speak for everyone in the LGBT community when I say that all I want is peace! I continue to walk around with my head high and a skip in my step because I know that I am a small part of the generation that will change the world. In the words of The Black Eyed Peas: "Where is the love?!"