I remember feeling so completely forsaken, praying to God to make me normal, to stop these feelings, to give me a break. I remember going to church, poring through the Bible, memorising verses, raising my hands in praise, begging: I don't want to be gay.
I remember falling in love with him, passing notes through our lockers, secret after-school rendezvous. I remember fumbling around feverishly, feeling safe when he wrapped his arms around me and wanting so desperately for those moments to last forever.
I remember telling my mum and her absolute lack of surprise, her cooing affirmation that it would all be okay. I remember a tense car ride with my dad, the tears of my step-mum, the protestations that life would be harder, but that I was loved.
I remember picking a fight with my dad, him balling his fists in rage, "Don't put words in my mouth." I remember storming out of the house, unbearably hot, tears burning through my skin. I remember slamming doors and hoarse voices, bewilderment and hopelessness.
I remember waking up with a smile on my face, as if the weights that had been dragging my face into a frown for so long had been cut off. I remember smelling the trees, feeling the blood pulsing through my veins and walking on air.
I remember my school friends and how they all rallied around me. I remember putting football players in their place, "I wouldn't touch you with a fucking barge pole." I remember feeling I had something to prove, that I had to be better than everyone else, that I had minds and lives to change.
Ultimately, though, my coming out was always going to happen. I had been nurtured, developed, listened to, loved, encouraged, invested in and supported by loving family and friends. This is privilege, and I will use that privilege to make it easier for others to live their truth. That is my commitment to all the queer youth out there: I have your back.
Coming out is still a radical act and those who decide to do it, in their own time and at their own pace, have my unending, unwavering and unequivocal support.