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Outspoken: Bryan
Kopel

Outspoken: Bryan
Kopel

952_kopel

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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