I’m From Vandalia, IL.

by Ryan Reed

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I was kind of shunned when I was growing up. I was always the weird kid. Classmates would avoid me whenever possible. Everybody would constantly ask me if I were gay, and I would enthusiastically deny that I was homosexual.

I had had girlfriends before. But every time we would get close to having sex, I would pull away (internally, because I felt sick) telling her that I wasn’t ready to take that big of a step.

I had only ever had one dream about a guy before. It was some tall, dark-haired stranger that was protecting me. And he kissed me once swiftly before he set out to find my “enemies.” Needless to say, I woke up that morning with some pillow in my mouth.

When I played baseball, I had realized that I fell in love with the baseball coach, who had been a senior the year before. I could never find a way to tell him how I felt, and I became suicidal. He called the school counselor and told him that I was considering killing myself. I got help. I denied that I was gay, still.

That was my freshman year in high school. I didn’t come out until I was a senior. I had moved to Tennessee for several months, and learned that my brother’s friend had been interested in me for a couple months. So, I asked him out one night. I fell in love with him. All it took was one guy to be interested.

Even throughout high school, nobody had been mean or rude to me because I was gay. They all knew it. I didn’t. But after I came out, I started getting many friends. Even straight guys talk to me now.

I have never experienced discrimination as a gay man. And I am thankful for that every day. All I can say is to just be true to yourself, and be comfortable with who you are, and everything will follow.

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