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National Coming Out Day is not just for LGBT people

Everyone has something they are struggling with and can share with others.

(Editor's note: As part of a class project, high school student Jeremy Brener will chronicle his life as a gay teen sports fan during the school year and touch on issues that affect marginalized communities).

Hey everyone! I'm That Dude Jeremy and I want to wish everyone a very happy National Coming Out Day after. Yesterday may have looked like a typical Sunday, but it was a day that reminds us that we should celebrate ourselves as an honest person, each and every day. And for those who are not at that stage yet in their lives to come out or to be honest with others, the day gives them hope that one day they can be honest and true to themselves and to others. Even though it seems like a scary task, it will work itself out in the end and it will lead to a healthy life.

National Coming Out Day is not just for LGBT people coming out to their friends and family or to the world. It is also for non-LGBT people as well, because struggling with being honest with ourselves is something that every person will go through with at some point.

My advice when it comes to coming out or owning up to a truth is to find someone that you can confide in, who understands what you are going through. I spoke to some of my closest friends and confidants about what it means to them to be true.

My friends shared with me the belief that it is important to be true with yourself and to others. Ever since I came out to them, they have been nothing but supportive, and that's all I can ask for. For any person who is closeted, or holding any secret that may think could lead them to a worse situation than they are already in, my advice is to trust your friends and your family. Confide in that one person who will always be there for you. For me, that was my best friend Maddy Reese. Maddy is the closest thing to a sister that I have. I love Maddy to bits and pieces and I will always be there for her because I know that she will be there for me. Even though she recently moved from Texas to Montana, she still is one of my closest friends and always will be.

I asked Maddy what it means to be true and to be honest. "It's being true for MYSELF. Hiding yourself from the ones you love is exhausting," she said. "Coming out isn't for anyone's enjoyment, nor should it be a source of entertainment." Maddy inspires me every day because she lives by her principles.

Closer to home, Achal Shah and Kian Dalvandi are two of my bros I know I can count on. They may be able to beat me in FIFA, but I know they can't score past me on the real pitch, and that's what really matters. Achal and Kian are two people I know have my back, and they know I have theirs. And we couldn't be more opposite either. When I came out to them, they couldn't care less.

Achal and Kian are both straight guys who do well with the ladies, but even though their bro is gay, they are still there for me. When I asked them what it meant to be true to themselves, they both had very interesting responses. Achal said that being honest is "to believe in your principles and to stick with those principles at times of good and at times of controversy." Kian said that being honest meant to "speak and express what you truly believe and think regardless and in isolation of influence, the reactions of others, and the consequences." These are two straight guys who both respect and understand the importance of being honest with themselves, and they understand and realize the importance of National Coming Out Day, because it applies to everyone.  Achal and Kian are two good dudes, and have also really inspired me to be a better person.

Along with my "sister" and my "bros", another person I confide in and that also understands the importance of coming out is one of my closest friends, Julia Turkel. Julia is probably one of the funniest people I know, and she's like an aunt to me. She and my mom were close friends in middle school and lost touch along the way. However, they reconnected after Julia was involved in a bad car accident. Julia is the perfect example to me of what it is like to be grateful for life. I came out to her while my parents were on a vacation. Her response was simply:  "K." 

I know I can count on Julia and I respect her opinion tremendously. She told me that being honest about yourself with others "has to do with your character" and allowing yourself to take the journey and finding your "place in life, in society, in my own world, and in the overall arching world in the community. It's understanding that things change and accepting and preparing and expecting change." Julia has been through so much over the past few years as she is recovering from this accident.

I never knew Julia before her accident, but I wish I did. She is living this whole different life and she is living by her words, and she is accepting the fact that she has been in an accident, and she is living her life the best way she knows how with the hand she has been dealt. That is why I admire Julia so much. She's been through stuff that I can't even imagine, but she has accepted the fact that she had this accident, but she is turning this negative into something positive. That is a lesson I will always treasure.

My purpose for sharing what my friends have said is to show others that everyone struggles with something at some point in their life, whether that is dealing with a life-changing car accident, or their sexuality, or whatever the case may be. If you come out to one person and if you are honest with one person, it could make such a difference.

Everyone in their life has a Maddy or an Achal or a Kian or a Julia. Coming out is a task that not everyone has to go through, but the meaning of National Coming Out Day supersedes the LGBT community. Whether this article propels you to come out now or in the future, I hope you will find your happiness. Thank you very much, and luego.

Jeremy Brener lives in Houston. He can be reached via email ( or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy).