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Let’s start at the beginning: one cold, winter night of my sophomore year of high school, I was sitting on my bed, faced with the biggest decision of my life thus far. I had already asked to speak to my mother about something, and I planned to come out to her, but it wasn’t my choice.

A few months prior, I started a fling with one of the only other gay guys in my small town, and word spread fast once our lack of subtlety caught up to us. I decided to come out, not for him, but because if I didn’t, my parents would’ve heard about it elsewhere.

Alas, the nightmares of knowing everyone in town.

Anyway, when my mother came into my room that night, I was thrust into a real-life nightmare of my own. Suddenly, my existence was wrong and I had done something to upset my parents. To the point where my father almost kicked me out of the car, after forcing me to go on a drive with him, in the middle of the woods at midnight. Sometimes, I still wish they had just kicked me out.

Anything is better than the week following.

I came out on a Saturday night (because as a kid, I didn’t think things through, clearly) and after a phone-less Sunday (my parents took away my phone), I thought I would have the sweet relief of going back to school on Monday. Ah, I wish.

Instead, in Washington State where it rarely snows instead of rains, we received not one, not two, but six inches of snow, making leaving the house, much less going to school, impossible.

The snow lasted for about a week, which meant no school for a week and no seeing or speaking to my friends, nothing. My week was spent in my bedroom pretending I didn’t exist because my parents didn’t want to see me or acknowledge me; self-loathing and hating myself for being gay, for telling them, for even existing; and throwing myself into television to try to distract myself for just a minute.

And thankfully, at the time, I was obsessed with 90210 on The CW, and I watched season 3 specifically, which saw tennis star Teddy Montgomery (Trevor Donovan) dealing with his coming out.

Seeing his friends support him, and the possibility of a life free of my parents and the town I was in. That’s what got me through that week. Not just 90210, but Pretty Little Liars and how Emily’s friends supported her. There are so many examples on television today of friends supporting their LGBTQ friends, and without that, I don’t think I’d be here today as I was already dealing with intense depression from being locked in the closet for years before that night.

Perhaps that’s where my love for television grew to the point that I wanted to be a screenwriter. Perhaps that’s when I learned how to fight for myself and how to take action to prevent any further damage from being done. Because of the presence of the media focus on LGBTQ, the queer presence on my college campus within that same year, and local and nationwide LGBTQ programs, there are paths available for those who lack acceptance from their parents, peers, friends, or anyone.

I didn’t think I’d make it through my hell week, but I did, and flash-forward six years, and I’m still here, finished with college, and now looking to get out of the environment which has deemed my existence unacceptable.

While I, personally, still have much to do to place myself in a safe space overall, where I don’t have to worry about not getting acceptance, I wanted to write about my experience to show that, in time, it does get better. It’s such a clichéd phrase, and many paint it out to be one overall fix, but I want to do away with that unhealthy thought.

I spent so long getting down on myself for not placing myself in a better environment right away and for staying in a place where I’m unwelcome, but life often works out that way, but that doesn’t mean the only path is hiding yourself and being unhappy.

To this day, my parents still refuse to accept who I am and refuse to acknowledge my sexuality, but no longer am I ashamed of myself or do I believe my existence is shameful. That’s thanks to the many supportive friends I have and the resources that are available to all LGBTQ youth.

People are there for you, even if it’s just because you’re having a hard day and need a reminder that your existence means something to the world.

So, please, don’t give up, and if you’re having a hard time in the closet, or you came out to unaccepting parents/friends/peers, or you’ve forgotten that it can get better, reach out to someone, anyone, that can help get you to tomorrow.

It may seem like the end of the world if your parents, who should love you unconditionally, don’t accept you, but there are people that will accept you. There are people that do currently or will love you in the future for exactly who you are.