Jeremy is a 17 year old football player who lives in rural bible belt America. Enjoy his post and visit his brand new blog, StandingUpSpeakingNow.
“Real life is a funny thing, you know? I think most of us fear reaching the end of our lives and looking back and regretting those moments when we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say, ‘I love you.’ Or when we forgot to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ So there’s a time for silence and there’s a time for waiting your turn, but if you know how you feel and you so clearly know what you want to say… you’ll know it. I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.”
Standing up and speaking for what you believe in can be difficult. Knowing how you feel and knowing who you are, are concepts that we all wish to keep open to everybody, even at the risk of going insane. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in situations where we can’t reveal who we are completely, where we can’t open ourselves up, and where we can’t speak up. I am in one of those situations, but it’s time for me to speak up. My name is Jeremy, I’m 17, and I live in one of the most conservative regions in the world. I’m a good student, and I’m an athlete. At any given time, you will find me either running track or playing football. Yes, I play sports… and I’m into dudes.
Coming out where I live is genuinely impossible. Not only is my father a religious fanatic and minister in an extremely close-minded region, but I play one of the most stereotypically masculine sports possible. I’ve played varsity football since freshmen year. Like most everyone else, I put my heart and soul into every never-ending practice and Friday night game. I’m the last person anyone would ever associate with being into the same sex.
I suppose I’ve known for quite some time that I like dudes, but until recently I wouldn’t even consider the possibility of telling people. I went through so many internal fights that to this day I struggle with coping. I find myself hating who I am. Knowing that if I give even just one ounce of indication I might be gay, my entire school, family, and team would disown me, hurts A LOT. Now I consider myself a strong person. It’s just this one aspect of who I am, really doesn’t resonate well where my community.
Lately I’ve begun to accept myself more and it’s becoming much easier to deal with the me-being-into-dudes part of me. After searching the web, and reading about other kids, it finally occurred to me that I’m NOT alone. I suppose I always knew there were other teens like me, but they were always nameless and faceless. You really don’t know how much better you feel, when… you can relate to someone. I know that I have to start standing up for who I am, and while it’s honestly impossible for me to come out now, actually being comfortable enough with myself to talk about it really helps.
One day I will make a difference by showing people and helping break stereotypes even further. Yes, I’m into guys. Yes, I am athlete, and yeah… I probably kicked your butt on that field. So maybe, by sharing my story, someone else going through what I am will see it and know that they’re not alone, like I always thought I was. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to stand together one day, and make a difference. Because being gay isn’t a defining label of who I am, it’s just something that’s a part of me.