Coming Out: UBC student Dan Fochler

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Dan Fochler

Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.

UBC student Dan Fochler is the second of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2014. #HappyPride

Dan Fochler

Age: 24
Occupation: Student at the University of British Columbia

Before I start I want to say that we all have our own paths that we walk, and while some are harder than others, we all struggle with our own personal demons along the way. While my coming out story may not be anything spectacular, it is still the story of the journey I have taken to get to the point that I am at today.

I hope that it can show others who may be struggling that they can get through any hardship that comes their way. You are never weaker than what life puts in your path.

I can’t say for certain when I first started being attracted to males, but rather it seems to be something that slowly became apparent over time, festering in the back of my mind until it became all-consuming.

What I do remember is the conflict I had with my own mind. I knew I liked girls, but for some reason I found myself staring at boys. For years I told myself that whatever it was, it had to just be a phase I was going through and it would be over before I knew it. It’s these lies that I told myself that helped me get through each day.

My experience with high school was not the hell that everyone seems to claim it is. I can count the number of times I was questioned about being gay on one hand, and I dealt with only a small amount of bullying. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t internally struggling.

Every day was a battle, to watch very carefully how I carried myself, how I spoke, and even the smallest of mannerisms. It was exhausting putting forth all of the effort to make people think I wasn’t gay. I dealt with a lot of anxiety when around male classmates, and typically had friends who were girls as I could get away from the stress.

I didn’t start exploring my sexuality until after I had finished my first year of college. I decided it was necessary to take time away from my education to figure out who I really was and what I wanted out of life.

It was in this time that I began my first relationship with another guy. At the time I thought that I was madly in love with him, and it is because of this that I finally decided to tell my best friend that I was gay.

I still remember the drunken night when it all came pouring out, how we sat outside for hours talking until the sun came up the next morning. The relief that I felt to finally have said the words aloud to someone else was indescribable. Not only was I admitting it to another person, but I was also admitting it to myself for the first time.

Fast forward a few years, a couple relationships, and just as many broken hearts, and I found myself in Vancouver in January by myself. It was at this point that I fell in love with the city and felt a pull to move here, I knew I belonged here.

After returning home I applied to UBC, and waited. At the end of August of 2013, almost one year ago now, I packed my life into the back of my parents van and moved to Vancouver, leaving everything I knew behind me to start again in a new city where I knew no one.

I made a promise to myself that I would be open about my sexuality once I moved to Vancouver and that I would stop hiding. This would turn out the be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I was still not out to my parents and siblings, and in January of this year I felt an overwhelming need to finally get it off of my chest.

I had intentions of telling them on one of our Skype dates, but unfortunately they were busy and I never got the chance to tell them. I remember sitting there feeling disheartened that I hadn’t said anything, I had promised myself I was going to finally come out that night.

I typed out a text to my mom asking her to call me because I needed to talk to her, and sat there for what seemed like an eternity debating whether to send the message. If I sent it, there was no turning back.

As I write this and recall that night my heart starts to race at how nervous I was. My mother called me and I rambled on about nonsense for awhile until finally it just came out, for lack of a better expression. It was finally out in the open and there was nothing I could do about it now but wait. I remember my mother’s words clear as day, “Yeah, we know.”

Of course they did. My parents know me better than any other person in this world.

The outpouring of love that I received from them was beyond my wildest dreams. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried at what they had to say. Their love and acceptance opened so many doors and possibilities for my future and has completely changed the relationship that we have together.

The relief that I felt was overwhelming, and I don’t know why I put myself through the pain and suffering of keeping it to myself for such a long time. It is a lot like baring your deepest darkest secret to the world and hoping that no one shames you for it, but there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Over time I have come out to each of my siblings and received just as much support and love from them. I know I’m a very lucky man, to have family and friends that so lovingly care for and accept me no matter who I am.

For those of you who are struggling with coming out, remember, you have to do what feels right for you. When it’s right for you, you will know. If there’s any advice that I can impart on anyone reading this and struggling with their own sexuality, it would be that your sexuality does not define who you are, it is simply one small piece that makes you who you are.

– DAN FOCHLER

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