Yes, I’m gay and I love it.

Nathan Wituk shares what his life was like growing up knowing he was gay. Despite a liberal upbringing, Wituk still feared being an outcast and not fitting in.

Nathan Wituk

Growing up, I had always thought there was something wrong with me. I wanted to play with the girls during recess. I wanted to do theater and be on a stage to perform. I wanted to sing and dance everywhere I went. Despite all of these, my strongest desire was to fit in. I loved being friends with girls, but I didn’t know why exactly. 

From 3rd grade on, I sat with girls at lunch. It felt natural to talk about hair, makeup, and nails. My 10-year old-self didn’t understand how boys could talk about sports and cars. I never got anxious, worried, or even upset over the “always sitting with girls” label; I just felt like I belonged with them.

During pride month, I went with my sister to take pride photos downtown. It felt so freeing to be able to be myself and not worry about what people think of me.

I had never heard the word “gay” until I was in 5th grade. I vividly remember a classmate of mine getting upset with me over God knows what, and saying, “okay, gay boy!” I turned bright red.

Although I had never heard the word before, his tone told me it wasn’t good. I sat at my desk as everyone went to recess. I was the last to leave the room and my teacher pulled me aside and asked what my classmate had said. I exclaimed, “he said I was gay.” I couldn’t get through the sentence without breaking down. My teacher consoled me and talked to me about those who are hurting, are the ones who hurt others. 

I hated how easily a single word broke me. It was like a stone crashing through glass. I remember thinking what I would do, if my classmate said it again. The classmate never said it again. Fast forward a few years, the classmate came out as gay. I realize now that his actions were nothing but a reflection of himself. 

In middle school one day, I heard the word again. This time it was in a different tone. It wasn’t harsh or negative, but genuine curiosity. “Are you gay or something?” A random guy asked me in the hall. I told him “no, i’m not” The conversation ended there. No follow up questions or anything. Just pure curiosity.

 Somedays I think back on this and wonder how my life would be different if I just responded “yes, I am.” Maybe people wouldn’t judge me as much if they knew I was gay and out. Maybe their curious minds would be laid to rest once their suspicions were proven true.

During sixth and seventh grade, I was asked countless times if I was gay. I always replied with “no.” After a while, I was numb to the word. A word that once made me breakdown crying, now made me completely numb. I still didn’t fully comprehend what the word really meant. It felt like a weird insult that made me feel like I was special- not in a good way.

Then one day in seventh grade, I was walking home when I heard a new word. A neighborhood friend rode his bike home everyday and I would walk home. We took the same path everyday, but one day, he sped past me and yelled “watch out fag!” I didn’t flinch, I just casually looked at him as he rode past. I didn’t dwell on it, I didn’t really think about it at all. 

At some point in middle school, I noticed how people’s actions had little effect on me. Whether it was numbness or confidence, I don’t know.

The weird part about living in Wichita is that so many people come into your life so quickly, which is really good. But people also fade out of your life rather quickly.

I got to go to my first pride festival this past year. I got to see how loving and caring people can be. The festival was packed, and had food trucks, music, and even live drag performances. It felt so validating to be surrounded by people just like me; I will never forget it.

After years of hiding, I finally came out to all my friends at the beginning of my eighth grade year. Everyone said they already knew and that it was obvious. Being out at school was incredible. Even though there was occasional bullying, I learned that sometimes you just have to play along with it, which I did. Even though I felt free at school, I still had to hide when I came home. I would put on a figurative mask that would keep my family from seeing the true me. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but rather something I had to do. 

Freshman year came around and instead of going to Maize South High, I went to Maize High. I knew a couple people, but other than that, I knew no one. It felt like I had to cling on to anyone I could, and try to make as many friendships as possible. I was reintroduced to an old friend of mine. He was a senior at the time, and I, as a gay freshman, wanted nothing more than to be friends with the seniors. I looked up to him a lot. One day I needed a ride, so I asked him. He wasn’t the type of person to leave someone stranded, so he gradually let me ride in his car. Then as weeks passed he continued giving me rides home. He was someone I trusted. Someone I looked up to. I put so much faith in him but he took advantage of my innocence.

Weeks after, I had gone down a bad path. Mentally I couldn’t see the effects of my actions. It was dangerous for myself, friends, and family. 

On January 13th 2020, I came out to my mom in the counseling office. I never had pictured myself coming out at the school, but it was because of my own actions that I had to come out. The day was stressful and frightening, but without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. 

My junior year, my parents had a conversation with my grandparents. My grandpa is a retired pastor so you can imagine the anxiety I had. It was just my mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa. I was too fearful as to what they would say about me so I chose not to go with them. 

When my parents got home, they told me that it went extremely well. My grandparents were actually saddened that I feared how they would react. 

Months and months passed, and I got a letter in the mail from my grandparents. “Since you told your parents and then they told us that you are gay, we have not changed our opinion or high regard of you. Your talents, gifts, aptitudes, and personality are God’s gift to you, and through you, gift, to us. We thank God for you and for all he has made you.

Be assured without any doubts that we never speak or even think any “put downs’ or belittling of you. You are our vibrant and gifted, lovable grandson Nathan.

And don’t ever give in to the thought that life isn’t worth living. you have us to support you, talk with you, struggle with you, and laugh with you.”

With extremely supportive friends and family, I feel so incredibly lucky to have gotten to where I am today. I never thought that I would be able to be myself in front of my parents, teachers, and grandparents. 

The Christian bible says, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 

However I think it’s fascinating how quick some christians are to condemn people, when the bible also says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

With so many worldy issues coming to light on a daily basis, same-sex marriage and relationships are the least of our worries.