By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com February 27 2014 1:24 PM ET
Synopsis: Reece, like many young gay people, felt alone and afraid. His journey of accepting who he is eventually led him to love and happiness, and being able to attend one of the biggest events honoring luminaries of the LGBT community.
It was a long road that led Reece to OUT100. Like many other young gay kids, he felt like an outcast. Even dressed up, rubbing elbows with gay celebrities and straight allies, Reece thought back to the challenges he faced growing up. That is partly why he feels so strongly about the event, and how it honors celebrates remarkable LGBT individuals.
His thoughts on the importance of OUT100, “where a very popular magazine honors the biggest advocates for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, it’s a huge thing. I think the party is going to be amazing.” Attending a high-profile even honoring those in the LGBT community couldn’t even be imagined by his younger self, where he felt like he was the only gay person in the world.
“I'm sure there were other guys and girls that were going through a similar thing,” said Reece.
“Homosexuality just wasn't talked about, and if it was, it was made fun of.” Like many gay people around his age, Reece cites two of the most popular gay TV series of all time, Will & Grace and Queer as Folk as programs that impacted his life.
Reece said sometimes those shows did harm as well as good because they set an expectation of what a gay person “should” be. He continued, “When I was loving those characters, other people were making fun of them. So, in turn, they were making fun of me too. I felt alone and afraid.”
Reece took comfort in seeing people like him represented on television, but when he was younger he recalls when his parents asked him if he was gay. Not yet comfortable with who is really was, horrified his secret was found out, Reece quickly said “No! Of course not!” Reece and his family have come a long way. Now, his partner is treated as a member of his family: “My relationship with my family and my partner now is extraordinary. He's treated as my sister's husband is treated. I can't believe it.”
Reece wishes he had know about something like the It Gets Better project growing up. “It would be a talking point with people who may not quite understand who I am or how I'm feeling and something to show them to say, ‘Hey, this is what I'm talking about. This is really cool and this doesn't make me a freak. Look who is speaking out about this.’”
Reece was thrilled to celebrate his personal journey at OUT100 with so many LGBT trailblazers.
Reece’s final word to our youth: “You're going to have an amazing life. Just wait. After all the years of struggle, I'm so happy and proud to be a gay man.”