Ryan, in his own words: “I came out a little shy of a year ago. I’m 26 now. It took me a long time to come to terms with my sexuality. I knew that I was gay since I was a child but could never accept it. My upbringing in a traditional Samoan and Christian household instilled a lot of shame and self-hatred in me because I knew that ‘being gay’ was not acceptable. If anyone knew that I was gay, I would not be accepted.
I believed that if I hoped and worked hard enough and denied my sexuality that I could force myself to be straight–to be normal. I dated women and even got into serious relationships as a means of forcing myself straight. I fooled myself into believing I wanted a traditional life. I believed that if I could pretend long enough that this one little thing didn’t exist I’d be okay. I’d have a wedding, get a wife, and kids and I’d be happy. But inside I knew it wasn’t right. I knew that I was lying to everyone and most importantly myself.
As I grew older I realized more and more that there was nothing that could change who I was. No amount of prayer or work or denial could change the fact that I was supposed to be this way. I was born gay, there is a reason for it and I have to accept it as a part of my story. A year ago I decided to be brave and take the leap and I found my joy. I found the acceptance from friends and family that I thought I would be denied.
If I could communicate anything to my younger self I’d tell him that he is loved. He is fine just the way he is. There’s nothing to be afraid of. We are exactly who we are meant to be, we are perfect. Denying who we are is only denying us the happiness that we deserve.”