If I had to give a reason I think most LGBT people are afraid to come out, it would have to be judgment. No matter the family you come from or the religion you believe in, there is always a chance that someone important in your life will judge you. It’s this fear that stops many of us from admitting to who we are and living our life freely. Will Thomason, a senior in college, faced this fear boldly. Despite the sacrifice he had to make, he refused to back down and renounce who he is.

In seventh grade, Will attempted coming out to everyone for the first time. Since it didn’t go over well, he decided to lay low, wait for a better opportunity, and wait till he was ready. Will still had to accept who he was. Being raised in a Christian home, he had been taught homosexuality was a sin. This brought on self-loathing, praying for change and forgiveness, confusion, and frustration.

Over the years though, he finally reached acceptance of himself. High school went by without him coming out, but when his first year of college rolled around, he was ready. The opportunity presented itself with his friend Erin, who wanted to talk about Will’s identity. It was a simple conversation at first, but eventually metaphors about his sexuality started to seep in. As he gradually opened up, he finally came out to her. She took it well. They were close friends and his coming out to her has only brought them closer.

It’s this kind of support that gave him the strength to come out to the rest of the world instead of hiding who he is. Since he came from a Christian background, he was scared to come out to his family and friends for fear of judgment due to lack of knowledge concerning the subject or prejudicial religious views. He worried they wouldn’t understand, or would be angry or confused. This didn’t stop him, though. When he came out to them, they also took it rather well. Things were shaky at first, but they support him fully now. All it took was time and conversation about the issue to show them that he’s still the same person they knew before.

When asked if he had advice to give to the LGBT community on coming out, he offered two bits of wisdom. Don’t assume ignorance from others. In other words, don’t assume they won’t be supportive of you. He told me that he has talked with friends of his who are gay, yet afraid to come out because of negative things they have heard others, such as roommates, say about homosexuals. He encourages them to overcome this fear, saying that it’s a lot different when people actually know someone who is gay.

Judging a group as a whole is easy, but when they know someone who is gay, things change. He also advised giving people time. It might not be the most pleasant experience when you come out, but give it time. Such a change in the way people view you can be a shock for some, but don’t be discouraged. All it takes is discussion about the subject and showing them that you are still the same person you were before. The more you educate them and discuss the matter with them, the easier it will become to relate to them about it and openly talk about it. Eventually, with time, they will realize we aren’t any different from them.

One reason I chose to interview Will was the strength he had within himself to not back down when faced with adversity. At the college he attends, he was a part of a Christian a cappella group. He had joined the group when he started college, which adds up to being with them for three years. Last semester, he was approached by a member who had an interesting question for him. The member had been asked by someone how he felt about Will being gay.

Will hadn’t come out to the group yet, so this was news to the member. When questioned, instead of backing down, Will told the truth and admitted to being gay. His admittance was taken to the leadership of the group. A discussion followed about what this meant and how he felt about that part of himself. These discussions continued throughout the Summer. Finally, at the beginning of Fall, Will told them that he doesn’t think the Bible condemns homosexuality. A few people left the group during the whole ordeal before the leadership finally took a vote. Unfortunately for Will, the vote wasn’t in his favor and they asked him to leave the group.

Will has remained friends with the people of the group, though. They don’t understand his decision and there is a lack of knowledge on the matter within the group, but that hasn’t broken the three-year strong bond that he has formed with them. However, even though he’s still friends with them, he isn’t going to let the situation simply fade away.

The school government started an investigation on the matter to see if what was done could be ruled as right. After a while, though, it was decided as being fair. Despite the non-discrimination policy at his school, the judgment was allowed based on the fact that the group was a religious group and the decision was made based on beliefs. Although he lost that battle, he is still fighting for change. Currently he is working on changing the policy at his school so discrimination such as what happened against him won’t happen to others.

Originally posted 2012-01-18 23:35:30.