My name is Michael Coulter and I’m from Flint, Michigan. I feel like my life really began when I turned 18 and moved out of my parents house to go to college. It was a time of “firsts” for me because I was closeted in high school and I wasn’t a very social person. I was meeting so many people, it was amazing. I can tell people I was gay and they were gay too, this is great. And I basically met more gay people in one hour than I did in my entire life. But there was one face that stood out because it was sunburned. He was tall and his ears kind of stuck out and his face was cherry tomato red. So we chatted for a bit, we talked, got to know each other, and I gave him my number. And he took me ice skating for the very first time and it was just like a movie, where one person doesn’t know what they’re doing and the other person has to grab on to them and hold them and steady them. The more we hung out, the more I was falling for him just because no one had ever showed me that type of attention before. And from then on, I just felt like this guy was turning into my everything and I remember pouring myself into him and the more we were together the more I was feeling for him, and having these feelings of love for him. Summer break was coming up and I wouldn’t see him until the fall. And at that point, I knew that I loved him and wanted to tell him. We were getting to the final weeks of school and the week before finals, we went out to dinner to the restaurant we went to on our first date and after that he walked me home back to my dorm room, and I hugged him and I kissed him and I was shaking in my boots because I was like, “I have to say this, this is my moment, I have to get this out because I’m not going to see him until the fall, so I have to say this.” So I looked him in the eye and I said, “I love you.” And he looked me in the eye and said “Aww, thank you.” And that was it. And I was crushed. And he basically just left. He was like, “Okay, have a great summer.” And I went into my room, bawling like a little baby, curled up, just feeling devastated thinking that this was going to be our moment and it was just nothing. Nothing was the same after that. We never dated after that moment, we were just very civil to each other and I never told him how much it hurt when he didn’t say “I love you.” But once I graduated from college I moved back home and I was just counting down until the days to September when I would move to New York City, but I didn’t count on meeting someone in Flint. It turns out once things started picking up and we decided to date, I was his first boyfriend. But once the fall came and I was getting ready to go to New York City, I could see in his eyes that he was developing these very, very intense feelings for me. And in my mind, I was thinking about New York City. One night we were in his room on his floor making out when suddenly he just started crying and he looked up at me and he whispered, he couldn’t even say it fully but he whispered, “I love you so much.” And in my mind I was like, “Whoa.” And so I did not want him to feel that way at all, I didn’t want to put him through the pain that I felt so I said, “I love you too.” And to this day I don’t know if in that moment I really loved him or if I said it just to spare his feelings. Feelings of love can be intense. If you say it, if you hear it, it’s an intense moment. So just try to be as honest as possible and remember that sometimes you may get hurt, but it’s part of the human condition. It’s not the end of you if someone doesn’t say they love you. I’m still here. It wasn’t the end of the world.