‘My name is Jeremy. It’s time for me to speak up.’

‘My name is Jeremy. It’s time for me to speak up.’

“Real life is a funny thing, you know? I think most of us fear reaching the end of our lives and looking back regretting those moments when we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you.’ or when we forgot to say ‘I’m sorry.’

So there’s a time for silence, and there’s a time for waiting your turn, but if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you want to say, you’ll know it. I don’t think you should wait, I think you should speak now.”

— Taylor Swift.

Standing up and speaking for what you believe in can be difficult.

Knowing how you feel, and knowing who you are, are concepts that we all wish to keep open; at the risk of going insane, that is.

Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in those situations where we can’t reveal who we are completely, where we can’t open ourselves up, and where we can’t speak up.

It’s time for me to speak up.

My name is Jeremy, I’m 17, and I live in one of the most conservative regions in the world. I’m a good student, and I’m an athlete. Yes, I play sports, and… I’m into dudes. At any given time of the year, you will find me either: running track or playing football.

Coming out where I live is genuinely impossible given my circumstances. Not only is my region extremely close minded, not only is my father a religious fanatic and minister, but I play one of the most stereotypical “man” sports possible.

I’ve played football on the varsity level since freshmen year. Like most everyone else, I put my heart and soul into every never-ending practice and game each Friday night. I’m the last person anyone would ever associate as being into the same sex.

I suppose I’ve known for quite sometime I like dudes, but I wouldn’t even consider the possibility.

I went through so many internal fights, that even to this day I struggle with coping. I found myself hating who I am. Knowing that if I even gave one ounce of indication I might be gay, my entire school, family, and team would disown me, hurts tons.

Now, I consider myself a strong person, it’s just this one aspect of who I am, really… Doesn’t resonate well where I live.

Lately I’ve began to accept myself more, and it’s becoming so much easier to deal with the me-being-into-dudes part.

After searching the web, and reading about others, it finally occurred to me that I’m NOT alone. I suppose I always knew there were other teens like me, but they were always nameless and faceless. You really don’t know how much better you feel, when… You can relate to someone.

I know that I have to start standing up for who I am, and while it’s honestly impossible for me to come out, actually being comfortable enough in myself to talk about it, really helps.

One day I will make a difference, by showing people and helping break that stereotype even further. Yes, I’m into guys. Yes, I was an athlete, and yeah… I probably kicked your ass on that field.

So maybe, by sharing my story, someone else going through what I am could see it and know that they’re not alone, like I always thought I was.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to stand together one day, and make a difference.

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