Cameron Staff’s journey is the third of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2013.
Occupation: Journalism Student
I always knew I was gay. I think the first time I was truly attracted to a guy was in grade 6, I was 11. All through high school I was friends with girls. Every single one of my close friends were girls. It is who I felt comfortable with, who I got along with. I was always around guys, but tended to avoid them in social situations, not making eye contact etc.
Everyone knew I was gay, and that scared me. I think that’s why I avoided guys. I was terrified that one of them would call me out. The girls always asked, but they made sure I knew it was okay and that they would love/support me. But I just wasn’t ready.
When I was 17 years old, I moved from Pitt Meadows to Kamloops for university and was excited for the fresh start. I had a guy roommate, started to make guy friends (while still maintaining girl friends) and I really believed I had people convinced I was straight.
It was my first semester and my first class of university when I saw him. It changed everything. I really don’t believe in love at first sight, but my god was I smitten. I stared all the time, tried my best to sit closer and even attempted to make conversation. He didn’t look gay, not in the slightest, but I had this gut feeling, this instinct.
It was late October 2010, after class, he came up to me outside the classroom where I was standing alone texting. “Hey, I was just wondering if you wanted to hang out some time?” In that quick moment I stopped the act I had been putting on for so long. I became a 12-year-old school girl, I blushed and eagerly told him yes. We exchanged numbers and started texting almost immediately.
He explained to me that he was gay but was out to no one. He told me that there was something about me, he knew I was gay and knew he could trust me. I told him a very similar story. We hung out several times, all of which were kept secret from our friends. We would go to his basement suite that was off campus. We’d talk about everything/anything, watch movies, eat, he would try to teach me how to play video games and sometimes we would just lay there with each other.
We did everything a normal couple would do but it was private. After about a month we agreed to be “boyfriends.” I was the happiest I had ever been, and the secret aspect excited me… at first.
Fast forward a year, 3 months of which were spent long distance while I was back at home for the summer, and the excitement of our relationship being kept a secret had faded. We were at each other’s throats and with neither of ready to make that push to come out we were stuck. We broke up in November 2011.
It was heartbreaking and the worst part was I couldn’t tell anyone. I was trapped with this pain. My heart was broken and all I wanted to do was cry on my friends shoulder or call my mom and vent, but I couldn’t.
Needless to say, I was careless with how I decided to deal with the sadness/anger/pain. I began partying a lot, abusing alcohol and even some drugs. That relationship taught me so much though. He was the first person, let alone man, I was ever in love with. He will always be in my heart. The saying “it has to get worse before it gets better” rang so true for me in this case.
It was February 2012 and I was out at a bar with a few of my friends. This was the night I would first tell someone I was gay. I remember sitting at the table while all the girls went off with a different guy, dancing, flirting, doing what people do at bars. It killed me. I would never ever be able to do that if I continued to hold this in. It freaked me out and made me so unbelievably sad.
Later that night I called my best friend back home crying. She was freaking out, and all I could get out of my mouth was “I’m confused.” She knew immediately what I was talking about. She told me she was with a group of people and that she was leaving and going home right now and was going to call me. I hung up the phone and started to cry. There was no turning back.
She was amazing and talked me through it all. I am so happy with my choice to tell her first. We were the kind of friends that fought a lot, but at the end of the day had each others backs like no other. She really proved herself in that moment, and after that I knew 100% she would be in my life forever.
She convinced me to tell my school friends next, and then a week later when I went home for reading break she gathered all my close friends at a friend’s house so I could tell them all at once.
The next day I sat my mom down and told her and then together we told my dad and brother. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Saying it out loud was like ripping a bandage off and before I could get the words out I would have a mini panic attack. I would start to loose my breath and get shaky, but when I said it, and I knew there was no turning back, an instant sense of calm came over me.
The most amazing part of it all was that no one seemed to care. There were many many tears, but not one person I loved disappointed me. They loved me no matter what, the whole time. To this day, that still warms my heart. Even those guys from high school I couldn’t look in the eye before, didn’t care. Everyone was extremely supportive and that gave me a sense of confidence, a new confidence I didn’t know I could have.
For the first time ever I was secure with myself. Mentally, physically and socially. I was so lucky and I know it’s not that easy for everyone, and that saddens me deeply.
The advice I give anyone battling their sexuality is that “those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” It is beyond cliche, but it is the truth. I would never ever rush someone who isn’t ready to come out, but once it’s done it’s done. I know it’s easier said then done. Yet in that moment a weight comes off you, you become liberated and happy in a way I can’t even describe.
– CAMERON STAFF
For those who identify as LGBTQ, the process of ‘coming out’ is often difficult and painful but it can best be described as liberating. Last week, Vancity Buzz invited its LGBTQ readers to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a means of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
As these individuals in our stories experienced and eventually realized, retaining such deep secrets can cause much internal damage – only honesty can allow them to live life to its fullest potential, to be able to truly enjoy life. Cameron Staff’s journey is the third of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2013.
Got a coming out story to share? Click here for more information on how to submit.