After High School Trauma and Housing Insecurity, Gay Man Finds His Voice and Uplifts Others.

by Nico Ramsey

My name is Nico Ramsey and I am from Keller, Texas.

The first boyfriend happened when I – because I came out when I was 12 years old and that was great, but then we broke up. Fast forward to high school, when I turned 14, I was lucky enough to have another boyfriend. The only situation was he was in the closet and, well, I was out of the closet but I only, like, showed a couple, like, you know, we… we just didn’t talk about it.

And time goes on, you know, sophomore year, still dating. Junior year, still dating. Then we get to our senior year. And you know, when you’re young, you make all these big plans. There was always a part of me that when it came to things like sexual between the two of us, I was very much… very much “Ooh, well, I will do this, but I’m going to wait for… for all of that for when we’re in love.”

What a better time to give it all away than your senior year spring break, right? And told him I loved him. He told me he loved me. Great. And we had sex for the first time senior year, right before we were to graduate. And it couldn’t have been… it was everything

Him and his family took a trip to Chicago for a trip. And up until that point, me and this guy had talked every single day for three years. Five days went by and I had not heard from him, so, you know, I reach out, just making sure he’s okay. And then I got a text that said, “I can’t believe what you did to me. I can’t believe that you sexually harassed me.”

And those words are a proud gay man’s – or not just proud – any gay man’s worst nightmare. And full disclosure, if anyone was to ever look at that situation, they would see that, well, for one, I… I wouldn’t have been the one in the position to have sexually harassed him.

And so he told people in our senior class of what he believed had happened. It was a 50-50 split between people who believed him and who didn’t. I definitely have letters, pictures of our relationship, but, you know, we were three weeks away from graduating and it’s… at that point, people were just ready to move on with their life.

So I went to community college for a year, still trying to find myself. I knew that I liked film a lot. So I knew Austin had a robust film industry. So I picked up the phone, called a couple of studios, and ended up landing an internship. So I got in the car, stayed with a friend when I first got to Austin, but unfortunately, we had a falling out after a very short-lived rooming situation. But that made me have to be basically homeless.

So I stayed at the 24-Hour, sorry, in the parking lot of a 24-Hour Fitness and the Panera Bread so I could take a shower but still have wifi and still, by car, go to my internship. Did that for. 2… 2 or 3 months in the hot Texas summer. My parents believed I was staying with someone and my mom sent me a text and she said, “Your father and I would like to send you something. What is your address?” It was in that moment where the first time in my life, I had no set of coordinates in this world that was any bit of my own. And you know, not just that, but a sense of community.

I did not want to go through this world being invisible and I didn’t want, you know, I don’t want to rely on 24-Hour Fitness showers. I didn’t want to hope to God that the wifi was working at Panera Bread.

At that time. I mean, my internship wasn’t paying. So I was working two part-time jobs, one at a senior citizen living center. And then the other one was at a credit union. Between those two sources of income – those two only sources of income – I was able to save up and get an apartment.

That was my first sense of, Wow. Okay. I did that. I made a change. I felt pretty, pretty good about it though. I felt like this was – it’s finally happening. I’m making that change. I have given myself… I’m moving myself forward into the direction and into the person I want to be. And so the next thing I knew that I had longed for was community, and if we’re being completely honest here, probably specifically a boyfriend.

So I looked at what do I enjoy? I loved politics and what a great state to be in to get involved. So where could I go to find a man, but still do politics? The Human Rights Campaign. So I looked at their social media and saw that they were having a happy hour. So I went and it was packed. I mean, these were people that I have never seen before.

I didn’t find a man that night, but I did sign up to volunteer for a thing called phonebanking Went to the phone banking, then they asked if I would testify at the Capitol. And so I did. It was against the commonly known or widely known as “the bathroom bill.” And you would go, you would sit there and you would talk to all these mostly conservative senators on why trans rights are human rights.

And it was like a light bulb moment about all these years that I’ve spent in theater, studying film, understanding how to communicate ideas – I could do this, but do it for the benefit of other people too.

And so shortly after, I was hired on and became what has now turned into the Community Relations Director at my company, working with many nonprofits throughout central Texas, that focus on systemic change.

I continue with HRC. I started on their steering committee and then had been appointed to the National Board of Governors. And in 2020, I was the youngest co-chair in the country to bring in the most funds for their national… for their annual fundraiser. Basically I am learning every day how to be a better community advocate for the city that I call home.

There is no set way to be gay. There is no… there’s no cookie-cutter mold. There’s no map that anyone gives you. There’s no movie you can watch, story you can read that’s going to tell you exactly how your life is going to end up. If you use your voice, you will find exactly what you’re looking for. And it might not be the first time and it might not be the second time. And it might not be six times after that, but you’ll find it because it’s your voice. And through your voice, you’ll… you’ll find a way to be seen in this world.

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