Jonathan Lykes

The experience of my “coming out story” has shaped my view of the world more than any other event in my development. For any young black gay man from an inner city community, coming out is many times the most difficult struggle of ones life. Getting to the place where one can stop caring about society’s judgments and start to accept who they are, is a mountain to climb.

I grew up in a very religious and conservative household. When I came out, both my family and the majority of my friends disowned me. I am a homosexual. As a young high school student, when I publicized this statement to family and friends, I never meant it to be a huge revelation for anyone; I simply felt that it was time for me to start presenting myself more authentically, and to take a firmer stand in the fight against homophobia and discrimination.

My coming out experience challenged me to look at the world differently. It taught me to be open minded and see life through a universal perspective. My sexuality has taught me to not only think outside the box, but has also forced me to live outside of the box. I now live my life on the exterior of the social norms that I grew up in.

A piece of my life will always be geared towards social justice around the world. A current event that exemplifies my passion for international LGBT rights because of my personal experience was going to a protest against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexual Bill. Proposed on the 13th of October 2009 by member of Ugandan Parliament David Bahati, the bill will broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, including introducing the death penalty for HIV positive people who have previous convictions.

My roommate in college said that most intolerance is rooted not in factually informed hate, but actually in ignorance; and that ignorance is best defeated by knowledge, not further intolerance. This is my declaration, and a testament to that fact that things will get (and are currently in the process of getting) better.