Welcome to day one of our ten day feature – Everyone has a Story.
Our first entry comes from New Jersey born Michael Lamar Simeon. Here’s his story…
- Firstly, how old are you and what do you do for a living?
I am 31 years old, just had my birthday actually a couple of weeks ago and I’m a flight attendant.
- Please can you give us a brief background about your life?
I was born and raised in the Garden state of New Jersey (USA). I actually had a fairly simple childhood growing up. I went to performing arts schools for most of my life. Because of this a lot of my friends had big personalities due to the performance aspect. Growing up I was always seen as the weird kid because I loved comic books, I really got into superheroes and cartoons, and I didn’t know it yet, but I wanted to do voice overs so I was always p[practicing different voices and sounds. I used to love making animal noises, raising the pitch of my voice.
They used to actually call me cat boy growing up because of the cat sounds I used to make.
So I was able to use that more or less as a shield. So if I said something random like ‘I wanna wear high heels’ people would just put it down to me being weird and would say ‘you would say something like that’.
- When did you realise you were gay?
I think I always knew I was gay ever since I was young. When my cousin and people around me were talking about girls I was always looking the boys. In fact, I remember my earliest celebrity crushes being Sisqo, Dru Hill and Justin Timberlake.
However, being gay was ‘wrong’. So I was never really out and proud, growing up. But thankfully I never went through that phase that’s fairly common of full on self-hate. I just didn’t really talk about it.
- When and how did you come out?
My coming out was interesting actually. For the most part I was never really in the closet. The people closest to me knew, but other than that I just didn’t talk about it. My out and proud moment came when I was about 19 and I was in collage. A girl whom I considered to be a close friend of mine outed me to all my other friends because she believed her current boyfriends was cheating on her and that I knew about it but didn’t tell her.
So in retaliation she told everyone I was gay and that I had a crush on one of our fellow classmates. That then made things awkward between him and I, because he wasn’t gay.
Also looking back I’m like, why the hell did I even have a crush on him? (*laughs)
After she told everyone though, pretty much the reaction was unanimous, everybody was just like; who cares?! It was actually the complete lack of a reaction that gave me the confidence to say who cares to myself.
Funny thing though, I never actually had a ‘coming out’ to my parents or anything like that. I just stopped hiding as opposed to making a formal announcement. My brothers said they always knew, and I’m sure my mother always did.
My father tried to get me to come out to him when I was 16, but I really wasn’t ready to have that conversation (*laughs), so lets face it he always knew, no surprises there!
- Have you ever experienced any discrimination due to your sexuality?
I’ve thankfully never really been discriminated against because of my homosexuality. Of course I;ve been told by plenty of people it wrong but it’s been nothing major.
However, my best friend was bullied and called pout for being gay all his life because he was more effeminate than me. But thankfully I never had to go through that. I guess I got lucky in that way.
- If you could give your younger self, or anyone else currently struggling with their sexuality what (if any) advice could you give them?
Some advice I would give to my younger self is just to embrace all of yourself. Only then will you be able to live and enjoy your life. All the time wasted in worrying about what other people think is just that, time wasted; ot can and will hold you back from the things you want to accomplish in life. Not to sound cliché, but things do get better. However they will only get better when you make them better. The people around you love you no matter what!
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for his help with this project and for his frank honesty.
If you’d like to keep up to date with Michael, follow him on Instagram @nephilim_rising2010