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[Shawn’s Coming Out Story]

Shawn Coming Out
Apr 2017

Shawn’s Coming Out Story

I was 24 years old, and still in the Navy during the time of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” For many years, I was terrified of coming out, partly because of fear that I could get discharged from the Navy, but mostly of being ostracized and shamed by the people closest to me.

When 9/11 happened, it was my last year of the Navy, and I just remember staring at the television that night thinking that any ordinary day, it could be me. I could just walk into work one day, and never come home. That was the day that I decided I couldn’t live the rest of my life as a lie, and deny myself any chance at true happiness just because I was afraid of what people would think.

I called my aunt and told her to sit down because I had something important to tell her. When I told her, she said “Oh! I thought you were going to tell me you were dying!” We both laughed and instantly what I had to do became so much easier.

When I told my dad, he said, “Well that doesn’t change anything between you and me.” And I couldn’t help but cry.

When I told my mom, she said, “When did you decide that?” And I had to explain to her that that’s not exactly how it works. But she accepted it, nonetheless.

I lost a few friends for sure, and some who I “knew” would never accept it, I chose to lose contact with, because I figured it would just be easier for both of us. But I sometimes regret not giving them a chance to decide for themselves.

Overall, I consider myself very lucky to have had such a loving and supporting family and group of friends. But not everyone’s coming out story has a happy ending, and that’s why we all must stand united as a community, and why I am so glad to be a part of this.



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