If you had told me as a young, shy, closeted boy that I would spend National Coming Out Day 2017 on my honeymoon, having just married the man of my dreams mere days before, I would have thought you were absolutely nuts. And yet, here I am. And finally being at peace and joy with who I am has changed my life for the best.
I grew up as an only child and had two very hardworking parents that worked tirelessly to put a roof over my head. But I also grew up a strict Catholic, lived alongside a busy highway, had no brothers or sisters, and had very few friends that I would allow to be close to me. I was ashamed of who I was and how I lived. I worked three jobs while in high school so I could save for my first college tuition payment. During college I lived off the change in my car while working overnights as a part-time weather producer at WNBC in New York City — a dream I had since I was 8 years old. I was dirt poor, but I had a dream, and I stuck with that dream. I always dreamt of a career in the weather, and with a big and loving family to call my own.
When I met my now-husband, Jonathan, my world changed forever. I met someone who makes me stronger, makes me better, and someone who opened up a heart that was in lockdown for survival. We have been through MANY good times, and we've been through a couple of scary times, but we've done it all together. He has opened my eyes to a new world, a world where I can be proud of myself, and proud of being gay, and being in love. When we looked at each other in the 24 hours before our wedding last week, we cried with happiness so many times. We both know how lucky we are to have each other, and have the ability to love out loud like we do.
Few things mean more to me than getting messages from young LGBTQ viewers saying that seeing someone like them on air gives them hope that anything they dream is possible. I am glad that my husband and I, in some small way, can be role models and help change people's misconceptions about our community. When someone loves someone as much as I love Jonathan, what harm could that possibly cause? The greater harm would come from stifling the passion of someone because they're too afraid to be all they can be.
As I type this today, I realize the importance of marriage, the importance of love, and the importance of realizing we are all a work in progress. I wish that everyone finds the heart that I found: someone that reminds me daily that no one is perfect. Learn to focus on the core of what makes you special. I have seen that our community is filled with some of the strongest, toughest, most amazing people because of all the different journeys we've been on toward coming out. I wish everyone a beautiful National Coming Out Day, and hope every young person in need out there knows how welcomed and loved they can be. The forecast for your future is so bright.