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DR. NATE: There’s one moment that stands out in my memory of when I kind of was able to exhale a little bit, and I remember I was in my PhD program at Texas Tech University. And the immediate people around me the PhD students and staff knew that I was gay and I remember picking the different topics I was going to write about and research about and I was presenting at this big colloquium and I had invited the students in one of my classes to go. And the class was- I don't even know what the class was that the moment- but it wasn't something that was like LGBT specific it was just like a general Ed course or something for media studies and I remember sitting in or standing at the podium and all the students around me and all this faculty and everyone's looking at me and I'm talking to them about people who are gay in other countries and coming over and migrating due to LGBTQ persecution. And after I finished my presentation, I opened it up for questions to from the audience and one of my students said, “Why are you doing this? Why is this so important to you?” And I stopped and I was like…. Oh shit, I have to come out like right now. I have to be authentic and vulnerable. This is why I said, “Well because I'm gay. There was a time in my life that I felt like I couldn’t be myself and when I think about other people in different areas where they have it so much more difficult where they can be punished and even put to death for it makes me a little bit more passionate about it. And also thankful for who I am, and were I’m at in the United States.” And it was at that moment everyone was just like “Oh he's gay, Okay he's gay,” and it was for me this opportunity to exhale and be like, okay I came out in front of everybody at one time. Of course I could have answered the question in a whole different way, but for me I just felt, at that moment, I felt safe, I felt comfortable enough to say this is who I am. And the student was like okay. And then we just moved on with more questions than it wasn't a big deal and it wasn't something that was as detrimental as I thought it was going to be. After that I was like okay I can do this.”

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(he/el)

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