Looking back, it’s easy to say I knew I was gay my whole life, but when you’re in it you don’t know for sure. I didn’t know how to define it. Because of my surroundings the thought of anything gay was so repulsive in my mind.
My struggle with being gay was all before I came out. I was called a faggot in school. I got bullied. I was told I shouldn’t be decorating and doing all the things that are more feminine. I dealt with all of my suffering before I came out of the closet.
I remember thinking that the more successful I become, the more accepting my parents will be. For whatever reason, that’s what I thought.
A few years before I came out of the closet no one would discuss sexuality with me. I also had no dating life before I came out and I was asexual. That’s probably why I filled that void with work.
When I was 21, right when I started my own company, my sister invited me out for dinner. We go to dinner, she sat me down and says, “Ryan, I know you’re gay. I’m your sister and no one is closer to you than me. I love you and it’s breaking my heart not to see you living your truth. Everybody already knows it, and if you’re worried about what people are thinking they all already know. So if you just say it along with them it will make everything a lot better.”
That was incredibly scary for me. After a few weeks I gradually told other members of my family. One after the other showing more and more support. I was going to tell my dad, but my sister beat me to it. She told me his response was something like, “Yea, I always knew, but I don’t want to talk about it. In the army they say don’t ask, don’t tell. I don’t want to talk about it.”
There was definitely a transition period for several months, but now everyone’s a lot more comfortable talking openly about it. I tell my dad he has to throw me a wedding when I eventually get married.
After I came out, I started to experience what it was like. I met a guy who really filled a lot of voids for me and that became my first relationship, which lasted until I was 24.