Outspoken: Bryan Kopel

BY

November 21 2005 12:00 AM ET

At 15 years old
I’ve already had a surreal experience when it comes
to being gay. I was born into a family of eight. My
parents divorced when I was 9, and my mother began
living with her long-lost childhood
sweetheart—a woman. I enjoyed having them as parents,
but my father was furious. After years of legal
battles the court gave my mothers exclusive custody of
me.

Torn between my
father’s expectations and my own, I began to reflect
on who I was.

I noticed an
enduring curiosity for the same sex, and I began exploring
it through the Internet. I was conflicted at first, but I
finally decided, as a compromise of sorts, that I was
bisexual. I kept silent until one spring afternoon in
2003 when I came out to my mothers. They didn’t
even bat an eye. In fact, my mom said she knew all along. I
felt relieved, if not disappointed that my revelation
wasn’t a big deal.

I came out to my
friends at Bernard Middle School not long after. At
first it was horrible, with students treating me like some
circus freak. But eventually things settled down. I
started going to a gay teen support group headed by
St. Louis University called Growing American Youth. There
I met “Jim,” whom I later started dating. He
and a few other new friends introduced me to gay teen
culture. I had lots of sex and partied late at night.

Before long I had
broken up with Jim and decided to stay out of the
dating scene to reflect on all the crazy things I’d
done. In the fall of 2004, I met “Mike”
online. We met at the local Starbucks a few times and
decided that there was something between us. But it ended
abruptly when he came out to his bigoted parents, who
broke off our relationship.

Since then I have
come to terms with my own identity as a gay teen. I am
currently dating “Tim,” whom I met through a
good friend, and we’ve been happily together
over 10 months now. I am writing a dramatized account of
my life (as if it needed any more drama) and have set up a
gay-straight alliance at my high school. And
I’m only just getting started.

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