I chose to lie, I chose to dissemble,
because when I thought about the possibility of coming out, about how that might impact me and the career I’d worked so hard for, I was filled with fear. Fear and anger and a stubborn resistance that had built up over many years.
When I thought about that kid somewhere out there who might be inspired or moved by me taking a stand and speaking my truth, my mental response was consistently, ‘No, thank you.’
I thought, I’ve spent over a decade building this career, alone, by myself, and from a certain point of view, it’s all I have.
But now I’m supposed to put that at risk to be a role model, to someone I’ve never met, who I’m not even sure exists.
That didn’t make any sense to me. That did not resonate… at the time.
Also, like many of you here tonight, growing up I was a target.
Speaking the right way, standing the right way, holding your wrist the right way.
Every day was a test and there were a thousand ways to fail.
A thousand ways to betray yourself.
To not live up to someone else’s standard of what was acceptable, of what was normal.
And when you failed the test, which was guaranteed, there was a price to pay.
Emotional. Psychological. Physical.
And like many of you, I paid that price, more than once, in a variety of ways.
The first time that I tried to kill myself, I was 15.
I waited until my family went away for the weekend and I was alone in the house and I swallowed a bottle of pills.
I don’t remember what happened over the next couple of days, but I’m pretty sure come Monday morning I was on the bus back to school, pretending everything was fine.
And when someone asked me if that was a cry for help, I say no, because I told no one.
You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for.
And I didn’t. I wanted out. I wanted gone. At 15.