Sunday, October 11, 2015

I came out in high school, in 1997

Happy National Coming Out Day!

I wanted to reshare this story from Story District's 2011 Pride show at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, for those that might not have seen it already, or for those who have who might want to share it with someone.

I told a story about coming out at my all-boys school, St. Albans, my junior year, and (I believe) being the first student to bring another guy to his senior prom in '99. I was fortunate to not just have awesome classmates in the class of '99, but a sincere brotherhood that never questioned, never judged, never made me feel like I was anything other than the classmate I'd always been before coming out. Maybe some of them knew already, but whether they knew or not, all of my class of about 75 other guys just didn't seem to care. I had an awesome class, and while I was the only out guy in the school at the time, I never felt alone because of them. Maybe it was because we were too busy just trying to make it together through the day, from classes beginning at 8am until lunch at 1:30pm, filling time with extracurriculars from 2pm-3:30pm, mandatory sports from 3:30pm-6pm (except for one season our senior year), and then other extracurriculars (aka theatre for me) after dinner until around 10pm. For whatever reasons, I will always appreciate how blessed and fortunate I was, being in the class of '99.

Also, I will say, while there was a rough patch with my parents in the story, we are closer than ever, almost two decades later. They truly love me, uncondtionally, and vice versa.

Anyway, there it is. Check out this story if you've got about 7 1/2 minutes.

So I thought I'd reshare this story that I told for a pride show with Story District, formerly known as SpeakeasyDC.

JR Russ tells true story on SpeakeasyDC stage from Story District on Vimeo.

To anyone who hasn't come out yet, just know that you're not alone. To those who've just recently taken that first step into the light, congratulations. Just because it's more common to see LGBT people in the media and maybe even in your community, I can only imagine it is just as hard, if not harder, to still take that first step yourself.

To take a leap of faith in your friends and family, or even to mentally prepare yourself for the worse but wanting to deal with that more than living an inauthentic life...that's not an easy choice. Of course, for some, it's not even a choice.

Regardless, I hope hearing my own story helps.

With love,


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