I’m only 18, but I’ve already had multiple coming outs — to my gay brother, my friends and family and, finally, my college soccer team. It’s been exhausting at times, but I can finally see the light at the end of this long tunnel.
Being gay and also having a gay brother might seem ideal, but I didn’t think so for the longest time. Growing up in Duluth, Minn., my brother (who’s four years older than me) and I were never very close.
I was somewhat feminine growing up and he wasn’t. I was always athletic, but I enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls and enjoyed playing house at recess instead of “smear the queer” like the rest of the boys. My family always assumed I’d be the gay one, until my brother spontaneously came out. As I got older, I became more involved in sports, while my brother focused on school and his extracurricular academic activities.
While he was in high school and I was in middle school, he wasn’t the friendliest toward me and I grew distant from him. I realized in middle school that I could be gay, but I was completely confused because it was around the same time that my brother came out.
I started thinking I couldn’t be gay because I was nothing like him. I also thought the odds were against two brothers being gay and it gave me hope that maybe I wasn’t.
But things changed in my freshman year of high school, at the same time my brother went to college. I turned 16 and made a Grindr profile, just hoping that I’d find someone I knew on there, someone I could talk to. My brother was also on Grindr and when he was home for the summer, he recognized my profile pic from my Instagram account, and then confronted me about it.
At first, I denied everything, petrified by the thought that someone would know my secret. Then I opened up and told him everything, hoping that he could give me some guidance. Ever since, we’ve been becoming closer and closer.
We connected on the fact that we’re both gay, and now we have a much stronger brotherly relationship. Thanks to that rash decision to make a Grindr profile, I salvaged my relationship with my brother and he helped me begin the journey to accepting myself.
Throughout the rest of high school, athletics were my main focus. I was a three-sport athlete — All-Star soccer goalie, varsity basketball captain and a high jumper on the track team. I was still struggling with self-acceptance while being accepted in the ultra-masculine environment of athletics. I couldn’t get myself to associate being masculine with being gay; all I knew were the stereotypes.
I then began watching a Youtuber named MarkE Miller and his boyfriend Ethan Hethcote. I related to Mark and he made me feel like maybe I’d actually fit in with my straight peers. Seeing how happy Mark and Ethan were, along with the support of my brother, are the two things that really helped me come into myself.
I would watch their vlogs and get butterflies because I wanted what they had; that’s how I knew for sure I was gay. Also the fact that I could never figure out what was so cool about boobs. I started to accept these feelings and explored my sexuality more. Rumors started spreading around school when I began seeing this guy in the grade below me, who, after some drama, wound up becoming one of my closest friends.
At parties, I’d be approached by people asking if the rumors were true and I was honest about it. I loved the person I was becoming and in return got lots of love and support, which made this coming out fairly easy.
In the summer of 2017, just after I graduated, my brother invited me to come down to Minneapolis and stay with him for my first Pride weekend. It was the most eye-opening weekend I’ve ever experienced. I was showered with so much love and support to be my true self and that it made me really start to love being gay.
I met a guy that weekend and we fell for each other. I posted pictures of myself and this guy on social media and didn’t care who saw. I was proud of the relationship I was in and I wanted everyone to know. I even introduced him to my dad and some other family. Our relationship ended when I moved away, but he played a big role in my coming out by giving me courage and pride.
I'm currently a redshirting freshman goalkeeper at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington. It’s where I’ve had my most difficult coming out.
I felt pretty intimidated here from the start. We have a nationally ranked soccer team and my teammates have been playing the sport their whole lives at elite levels. I’d only been playing soccer for three years and felt completely lost when I moved here. I really didn’t feel like I belonged, and not just because I was gay.
I got really depressed in the first couple weeks, which is unusual for me since I’m the positive, optimistic and social type. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t clicking with anyone on my team and it was eating me alive. My teammates all seemed so close and I just didn’t feel connected with anyone.
I was incredibly homesick and missed the friends and support I had in Minnesota. I thought maybe I made the wrong decision moving out here. Then I met this guy on Tinder and we went on a camping trip with his friends.
That gave me confidence to come out to my roommates who were also soccer players. I thought it’d help me feel less alone. One night, I texted them at 3 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep. Soon after they came knocking on my door, saying they loved me, that we’re bros, and we brought it in for a group hug.
We stayed up the rest of that night and talked; things were better for a while. But then as weeks passed, the depression crept back and I still hadn’t reached out to other teammates. Rumors had circulated around, and most of the team knew, but nobody would mention it. It was just the elephant in the room, making me feel more isolated than I did at first.
I left on a much-needed trip to Greece for my cousin’s wedding in October. While I was there, National Coming Out Day took place in the U.S. I decided to post something on Instagram to once and for all come out to everyone.
I texted my coach and told him to check out my Instagram. I was most nervous about how he’d react, but he wrote the nicest comment that had me literally smiling. I also sent a text in my team’s group chat wishing them a happy National Coming Out Day and a few responded with reassuring messages.
It was a turning point. When I came back from Greece, I wasn’t feeling awkward or an outcast. My coach came up to me and simply asked if everything was OK. I smiled, we shook hands, and life out here has been looking up ever since.
I’ve started hanging out with my teammates and practices are more fun. I also made some friends in town and expanded my social circle. I finally feel like I fit in out here.
My coming out experience has taught me that despite the circumstances, you should always be true to yourself and people will love you for it. You will always be coming out at different times in your life, but no matter how hard the process may be, it will always be worth it.
Whether you’re struggling with the idea that you could be gay, or you’re worried your family won’t be supportive, or you’re a gay athlete and you’re anxious about the culture you associate yourself with not accepting you, as long as you stay true to yourself, the universe will work itself out in your favor.
Trust in yourself and trust that everything will be OK, if not now then later, but you will always be happier being you.
Teran Lind, 18, is a freshman of the class of 2021 at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., where he is a redshirt goalkeeper on the soccer team. He is majoring in business, and hopes to be his own boss one day. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @teranlind on Instagram, and @teranlind on snapchat