My name is Matthew and for me coming out was not an option, I was forced out. It all started when a friend asked if he could film myself and the guy that I was involved with. I was extremely against it, so I said no, he ended up doing it anyway. As soon as I saw the camera I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I got him to stop immediately and told him to delete anything that he may have gotten. He said that he did and me being the trustworthy person I am, I believed him. I found out the hard way that he didn’t. I have been told about the next part by some of my real friends.

A few of the guys at the shop were talking and he said he could prove that I was gay, they didn’t believe him so he snuck in to the house and filmed us.  He then went back to work and showed the film to the rest of the guys on shift. Thus proving that I was gay. From that point on I knew that my life would never be the same. The part that was the most concerning to me was that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still in effect and I was worried sick about the repercussions of the video. Due to the worry of DADT, the ridicule at work, and the feeling of violation I became very depressed and it almost cost me my life. I was at such a low place in my life I attempted suicide and luckily I had people in my life that truly cared about me and got me the help that I desperately needed.

After I returned from the hospital and went through treatment I was in a much better place. I struggled for a long time with my demons. I tried to hide the fact that I was gay. I finally came out to my friends in December of 2012 and it was one of the happiest days of my life. They were extremely supportive of me and nothing changed with them, it took a little bit longer for me to come out to my parents. I came out to them in the spring of 2013. That is by far one of the happiest days of my life. They were very accepting of me and they continue to love me just the same as they did before I came out.  Due to me coming out and living my life without secrets I have been much happier and am able to move forward and help others that are struggling with coming out.

I’m 27 and I came out to my parents 7 years ago and we still continue to struggle at times. To whoever is reading this, I want to convey that anything you are scared of is not worth hiding who you are. I have a Catholic mom and a Southern Baptist dad so you could imagine they weren’t to thrilled to learn their only baby boy was gay. I, oddly enough, came out to my parents on October 14th, 2006. I was having a bad day at my retail job at the time and I came home and my stepfather asked me if I had asked out any girls that day. That statement bothered me the entire day, it had been pent up in me all day and when I got home, I busted open the door and….saw my step grandparents sitting there with my mom.

I didn’t care, I awkwardly let out a “MOM! I need to talk to you,” and took her downstairs. I sat her down and tried to beat around the bush to no avail. Then finally, I said, “You know how you worry if I am going to get a girl pregnant too young like what happened to Argelin (my sister)? Well you don’t have to worry about that because…” And then the words came out of her mouth as tears came from her eyes. I don’t remember much about that night other than the fact that I left crying. By far it was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Things got better but I’m going to be honest with you, it took some time.

Shortly after coming out and living my life as an openly gay man, I was crowned Homecoming King, elected Student Body President, and then elected State Student Body President. The only thing that hinders your life when you are gay is your perspective that it might, I now live an amazing life in Fargo and I have built a solid group of friends that has transformed into family for me. The best advice I can give you is to surround yourself with people that you love, be respectful of others, and live your life for you and not anyone else. Though that process, it will get better…but more importantly, you will get better.

Ken Story
Fargo, North Dakota

So I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist household leading a very sheltered life. I was never exposed to anything resembling sexual until probably middle school or later. Growing up I always preferred to be around guys and thought girls were kinda weird but what little boy didn't? I was just a little more odd because I looked at other boys different and wanted hugs from my friends frequently.

In middle school I started to get an inkling of what "gay" actually meant. I found myself looking at pictures of guys barely-clothed and I always told myself that my reaction to it was because I was jealous of how they looked and wanted to look like them. I did not want to be gay or different because of how I saw others that were different get treated. I flirted with some guys over the internet but was still in heavy denial.

My Freshman year of Highschool I got my first really strong crush on a guy. I started talking to a school counselor in a neighboring city who was also gay and I made a lot of gay friends that year. I started off by trying to tell myself that I was bisexual, not gay because of the social handicap that it seemed to me and my upbringing. I had a LOT of girlfriends up to this point. I think my final count by my sophomore year was about 15. I would literally cry myself to sleep frequently at night wondering what was wrong with me and why couldn't I be happy with these lovely girls?

So... Sophomore year. That year it was homecoming that made me "come out" to myself. I had been talking to a good female friend in a neighboring city and she came to be my date to homecoming but also brought along a boy that she had introduced me to over the phone and internet chat a month earlier. Technically they were both my date that night. When we were on the dance floor at Homecoming he flirted with me a lot and later that night back at my house he kissed me and it was like night and day different from kissing girls. I knew at that moment that I was truly gay and could not fight it any more.

A few months later, I had run up a $1200 phone bill talking to a guy long-distance (I was not aware of the cost, but the bill didn't care!). During that I ended up coming out to my Dad and Stepmom in the backseat of their car. They fully embraced who I was and their response was "And? We have known for quite some time now and were just waiting for you to be comfortable with it. We have no problems with you just the way you are."

Coming out to my Mom was more difficult because of her religious beliefs. She tried to tell me that it was a phase that I would grow out of (something she continued to believe until I was in my first long-term relationship and she met him and practically adopted him). It took her a while to stop trying to talk me out of it and she would cry about wanting grandkids, but she is one of my most loyal friends and supporters and source of love and stability in my life now. I really am blessed by how my parents took the news.

Coming out socially however, was VERY tough. Back when I was a Junior in Highschool, MySpace was still the go-to social media site (Facebook was for college students only and you could not join wihtout belonging to a university). A guy who was attracted to me and very much obvious about his sexuality left me a few comments on my wall. My fellow students printed out my MySpace page and passed it around the school to "out" me. I only knew because friends in that class passed the information to me. I had to deal with some ridicule and I was for sure targeted. Thankfully I had good friends among the "bullies" of the school who already knew I was gay and they made it clear that anyone trying to physically harm me would have to go through them (it pays to tutor people without judgement).

I had to develop a care-free attitude about my sexuality VERY quickly. I turned their interest in my sexuality around on them as if they were interested....TOO interested in me being gay. The more I acted like it was no big deal and made fun of them for bringing it up, the less it got brought up. I was no longer the fun target. My attitude about my sexuality is defined by me as "forged through fire" because of the friends I lost, the times I was stabbed in the back (figuratively), and the taunting/judging/verbal harassment I had to put up with.

After that experience I fully "came out" to the world both at work and at school and at home. I went off to college and joined the campus PRIDE organization. Since then I have been helping others come to terms with themselves in a much easier way than I did and help them deal with the world around them. Hopefully some find some comfort and/or inspiration in my story. Hopefully more will come join us in the Minot LGBT Community group on FaceBook and in person downtown so we can help everyone who needs and/or wants it!

Shaun Dyson
#Minot, North Dakota 

I came out to my mom and grandma while eating lunch in Spokane,Washington in 2002. They accepted me!

I didn't come out to my dad until 2004. When he caught me skipping class, I came home to a empty room with only a bed pillow and blanket. He didn't realize it was not just a phase. It took him almost 10 years for him to accept. He and I talked a lot about it but it wasn't until last November *2012* when My parents, my fiance and I asked my dad to walk us both down the aisle. Our relationship grew to better than ever. Then I lost my dad * my best friend* this July. I was still lost for words among other things..

This is my story of Coming out!!! Ya buddy, May just throw skittles at you if you have a problem with this!! I AM OUT, PROUD AND GAY!!!!!!!

Sarah Danielle
Minot, North Dakota