By Guest Blogger Joey Parker
Around two years ago, I ‘met’ Erica Diamond for the first time. By ‘met’ I really mean met through the web, but today I consider her a great friend. Social media has given us all the opportunity to unite and share our collective ideas on such fascinating platforms such as Twitter.
I admire Erica for many reasons– the fact she has created such an inspiring website for women is empowering. That said, it was also the exact reason why I started my own website. Except, mine celebrates the positive in Hollywood. So often we see the negative out there, and I was ready to spin some love into the blogosphere, thus, the creation of The Joey Parker Movement.
The World Wide Web has given me the most amazing platform to share my story, and luckily, through networking on Twitter, I met Erica. Today, I want to share with you a vital part of my life in hopes of making a difference.
Growing up, I was harboring a dark secret. Well, I felt like it was dark at the time… this was how society made me feel. Growing up as a gay teen in America was a nightmare to say the least.
“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” ~Raymond Hull
I didn’t have the courage to come out to my family until I was 20, (I am now 21). I just wasn’t ready. One night, I had just had enough. I grabbed my computer and wrote my family a letter. I opened up like never before.
Dear Mom and Dad,
“Life is all about growing and discovering who we are as people and by doing that sometimes we have to face our darker demons. I want to be honest with you all for the rest of my life and not keep anything from you. That is why I have finally gained the courage to reach out and talk about this. It has been hard but I know I can overcome it. I want to be honest with myself to you and to my future. I do not want to be married to a woman one day and not be able to love her like real love should be shared. Avoiding this issue to me makes me feel like I’m drowning and can’t catch my breath… the time has come to open my heart to you all… I can see where you may be frustrated that I did not reach out earlier but you must understand I had to first become confident with myself to have the courage to discuss such an important topic of conversation.
I am gay.
All my life I have tried masking the issue but there comes a time when we need to face it and find the courage to confront it. I could either keep pretending or be mature and share it with you. Although it has been so hard for me to write this I hope I do not let you down. I did not choose this and what crazy person would choose to be this way? Who wants to spend everyday facing people judging them? That mentality has really made me hesitant on coming to terms with who I am. But moving forward I have to associate with those who lift me up and get rid of those who don’t love me for who I am.
I hope going forward I can help those who are struggling like I have. No person should have to go through this because we are all humans and deserve to be treated equal. I truly believe gay rights is the new civil rights. I am the same kid you all know, just more open and honest. This has been very hard to write but essential…”
I think why it took me so long get off the fence and come to terms with this, is the baggage that came with the term ‘gay.’ I felt like the antithesis of what people described gay people as. Don’t get me wrong, I love all people, I just wasn’t the stereotypical ‘gay.’ Growing up in Idaho, I heard so many falsities about the LGBT community which made me that much more scared to come out. Why would I want to see my community and friends turn on me? In high school I would hear things like, ‘Omg, I think that person is gay, I better watch out or he is going to try and kiss me.’ Yes, this seems ludicrous, but this is truly how people thought, and still often think. Ignorance like this fuels the fire of hate.
As hard as it was to write my family a letter opening up about such hidden secrets, it was a breakthrough. My breakthrough. I could breathe again.
I can tell you from personal experience, holding in a secret is toxic. If you are dealing with what I am explaining, or something else related to stigma or shame, just understand that life is magical and it will unfold in the way it’s meant to. Trust when I say that, in the end everything will be okay. Sharing a secret that is weighing you down is freedom. It is peace.
Luckily, I had AMAZING support from my family. My heart breaks for kids whose parents don’t support them. I just want to let kids know that no matter how dark your life seems right now, it doesn’t last forever. Push forward, and speak your truth, because the sun will soon shine.
Being yourself is something we ALL struggle with. Self-discovery is an important lesson, and sadly it’s a damn tough one. When you are given no choice but to fight through life’s storm, you will come out that much stronger. It is never easy, but telling your story, and speaking your truth, no matter how difficult that truth is, is complete freedom.
Being gay doesn’t define me. I define myself.
“Each of us feels that we are just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less without that missing drop.’~Mother Teresa
About Joey Parker…
After a trip to Africa, Joey Parker came back ready to change the world. Turning to the web to accomplish this, in 2009 his hit website, The Joey Parker Movement, was born. Now read in over a 100 countries, Joey focuses on empowering people by creating positive celebrity content, and interviewing high profile celebrities.
Joey is currently writing a memoir that will be out 2014.
You can follow Joey on Twitter here.
I so admire Joey’s strength and honesty, and am blown away by how mature and wise he is for his age. Please feel free to leave Joey a comment or thought. He loves reading them. And tell us, have you ever lived with a secret and finally got off the fence and shared it? How did it make you feel to finally speak your truth?