Months away from my 30th birthday, I examine and reflect. I have a personal motto that truth should never be said in a whisper. I believe it but haven’t always lived it. I’ve often found myself standing in the middle of my belief in authenticity and my formed comfort with the benefits of its absence.

Freshman year of high school. I remember the feelings and knowing what they meant. There was no shame or fight. There still isn’t.

I join generations of Gay Americans who protect our secrets to preserve our safety.

All of us hurricanes inside. All of us speaking the same language of fluent silence. All of us experts of polite omission of the truth. All of us a composite picture of a person. In my heart, I have always wanted to give these feelings a microphone, but there is an arresting allure to fragile abandon. There are no answers to be given when there are no questions to be raised. In the company of two paths lies the timeless struggle of the courage to live your truth and the cowardice begging to preserve it unseen and unheard by others. In time, the bartered silence is supplanted by restless stirring.

For years, I’ve become a creature of the comforts of others faithfully balancing the wishes of my family, the teachings of my religion and the norms within the culture that I’m so proud to represent. And yet, neither my family, religion, culture nor myself benefit from lies occupying lives. As far as I’m concerned, partial authenticity is as ineligible as a half-truth.

When truth is sacrificed by a willed silence, one’s whole being marries the lie. 

So many before me have shown too much bravery for me to show silence in response. Harvey. Matthew. Tyler. Each suffered at the hands of others because of the truth of who they were. For a time, I equated my not “coming out” as a personal rebellion against the requirement.

I now realize that silence still makes statements. I lend victory and a helping hand to those that want to create a world and an America that doesn’t include me in it. America cannot be American without diversity of all kinds. Beyond that, a failure too heavy is robbing myself of the agency of one day telling my children to love themselves as they are for I can only speak those words upon following that same instruction. I want to speak those words so I speak.