By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 06 2014 3:40 PM ET
“OUT100 was a night I will never forget,” said Sureme, when asked about his experience at the legendary annual event. “I was so glad to meet the other [It Gets Better winners] and to hear their stories. Everyone involved was so kind and down to earth. I felt honored and a bit star struck the whole evening to see all of the inspiring [OUT100] honorees and advocates.”
While he had a wonderful experience at OUT100, Sureme’s life was not how he had imagined it when he was younger, especially coming from a deep religious background. Islamic religion states “to know thyself, learn thyself, love thyself,” something Sureme struggled to find for himself. . For a long time, he wasn’t even sure if he was gay or not. “When I was a kid until I was 22, I still had a strong romantic and physical attraction to women,” revealed Sureme.
But Sureme says his religious upbringing didn’t have a negative effect on him and, in fact, helped him find himself. “I knew I would need it to help myself get through all of the emotions and challenges I could possibly be faced with later,” said Sureme. “My religion only helped reinforce to me I wasn’t wrong for my feelings and couldn’t be wrong for exploring and embracing my natural feelings and desires.”
Nervous to come out to his parents, Sureme sat them down one year over Thanksgiving and told them that he was bisexual and “possibly gay.” His parents were quiet at first, until his father gave him the unexpected response saying “Okay, do you have a boyfriend? Can we meet him?” Which helped his mother express her feelings, eventually coming around and being nothing but supportive since.
Sureme dreamed of being married with kids living the rich and famous life in New York or Los Angeles, but only one of those things are currently true: his location. “I am not married with any kids and I am not rich and famous yet. But, I do live in NYC and have great friends and support that make my life feel like I am a superstar,” said Sureme.
Sureme says attending OUT100, and sharing his It Gets Better story, was a monumental moment. He gushes that attending the biggest LGBT event of the year, with his idol Mariah Carey in attendance, was particularly special. “I had a blast from the moment I stepped on the red carpet until I dragged my heavily intoxicated behind out of my cab home.”
If he could say anything to today’s youth, Sureme would tell them, “Not everything in life will be easy. Not everything in life will go the way you plan it. But, if you believe in yourself and any spiritual higher power you can and will get through anything.” Sureme believes that your life truly begins when you accept who you are. “As soon as I started to embraced who I was, what I wanted to with my life and believed I could make all of my dreams come true myself, they did ,and all of the dark moments and self-doubting days no longer held any value. “
Sureme says he still has plenty of dreams but he “no longer will allow the things that I once feared to hold me back from reaching my goals. I know if I would have given up years ago I wouldn’t have been able to experience all that I have experienced thus far.” Experiences, like being at the OUT100 and meeting prominent people in the LGBT community would not have been possible if not for Sureme’s acceptance and his ability to dream a larger life for himself than he could have ever imagined.