Brian Terada On Coming Out
We’ve partnered with upcoming film Boy Erased to CHOOSE LOVE. 15% of purchase proceeds of our exclusive Classic Key Cord CHOOSE LOVE Key Necklace will go towards the LGBT Center's youth homelessness program. To recognize National Coming Out Day, we caught up with Brian Terada to tell us about his coming out story. “My name is Brian Terada, and I’m gay. All I want to do with my life is show people God’s love and if I can do that by sharing my story, then I’m going to share it.” When Brian Terada came out to his friends just a few weeks before graduating from a Christian University, he thought his world would be turned upside down. Much to his surprise, his relationships deepened, and the outpouring of love he received from his Christian brothers and sisters was powerful enough to drive out all the fear he had growing up in the closet. Through the process of coming out, Brian learned that those he isolated himself from for fear of being gay, welcomed him with open arms upon coming out. Through his coming out experience, Brian founded the BE FREE movement. BE FREE exists for people in the LGBT community to quickly identify those people who they can openly confide in to help them through their coming out process. He shares his experience about coming out and the lasting impact that has made on his life. TGK: Tell us about the time you came out. A couple weeks before graduating from my conservative Christian University, I wrote those words in my journal, tore the page out, and hung it on the community board in the middle of campus just after midnight. The process of getting to this point was full of isolation and shame I felt for being gay. I was ashamed of how I felt for other guys, and I felt like I was living in the most disgusting sin imaginable. But the hardest part was that I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was truly going on in my heart. I was heartbroken over my love for my straight best friend, and I was heartbroken by the fact that nobody knew me, which meant no one could love me. However, the next morning, when my note was found by everyone on campus, I was overwhelmed by the love and acceptance that everyone expressed to me. I remember scrolling through texts and facebook notifications on my lock screen- it was full of people trying to find me, and trying to hug me. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just feel loveable, I felt touchable. TGK: What does coming out mean to you? Coming out means choosing love. Through coming out, I chose to take a chance on love, through loving and accepting myself for who I am and accepting the support of those around me. Choosing love also means allowing other people to love you through living in authenticity. It’s about the vulnerability or recognizing that we need each other and the exchange of accepting and listening to the stories of those who are different from you. TGK: Why do you feel coming out is important? Coming out is about getting to a point where the way you are living your life just isn’t working anymore and, no matter the cost, you have to make a change. It’s so important to find and declare your truth so you can love yourself, accept the love of others, and finally be free. It’s also about belonging. For everyone out there who have not found love and acceptance after coming out, it is so important to find a community that will love you. And believe me, they are out there! We all need to love and be loved. There are organizations and communities like The Trevor Project, local LGBT centers, the Christian Closet, or Be Free! There are also many people sharing their stories on social media who you could reach out to for support. I can’t imagine the pain you feel by being rejected by your communities, but just know that it gets better and there are communities out there to support and love you-you just have to go find them! Many parents struggle to know how to love their children after coming out. It can be so hard to know that their child was going through something that they felt like they couldn’t share with them. My advice is just to give your kid the time and space they need and love them right where they are at. Don’t try to change them, just communicate clearly that they are loved and accepted just as they are. There are organizations for you too! Check out Freedhearts.org, or join the Mama Bear facebook group (which is a national group of mom’s with LGBT children) who share their stories and community in loving their kids. TGK: Tell us about Be Free. I know that I’m lucky. Not everyone finds love and acceptance after coming out. I know there are so many closeted people out there who don’t know who they can come out to - which is why I created Be Free! A couple of years ago, I made these t-shirts that say BE FREE on them, and I told everyone that BE FREE means you are a safe person to come out to. Since then, we’ve been distributing the shirts, hoping that they open people up to liberating conversations. On top of that, we have hosted 12 Be Free Stories Nights in 9 different cities with big plans to bring Be Free to more communities. At these story nights, anyone is welcome to come and share some of their story, in hopes that hearing the story of someone who is different from ourselves will help us to better love and understand them. This is our way of combating the "us vs. them" mentality and creating safe spaces for people to be loved and be free. If you’d like to get involved with or learn more about Be Free, visit befreestories.com, @befreestories, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about National Coming Out Day here.