David Chrisom is a senior graphic designer in Marketing and Communications. On Coming Out Day, he shares his personal story and why he feels safe working at Boston Children’s Hospital.
When did you know you were gay?
I always knew that I was gay — probably from the age of 4 or 5. I never had a question in my mind, but I was only out to myself. Until I fell in love with a boy in college, who I thought felt the same, but didn’t.
That experience broke my heart, but it also made me strong. It really woke me up and made me realize I’m all right with me and I’m ready to come out.
What is your coming out story?
I was in my early 20s and had just made friends with a new circle of straight friends. I decided to come out to them first, because I figured that if they didn’t like it, I’d be fine with the loss, since I had just met them.
It shocked me that they didn’t think any differently of me. They loved me for who I was. That same group of friends — Brian, Christine, and Jimmy — are still, to this day, the closest family I’ve chosen for myself.
That experience helped me accept myself and tell my family, who have been very supportive. My mom said she knew when I was 4 and my sister said she always knew I was the most fabulous family member — ha!
Why did you wait until your 20s?
As a kid, I was insecure. I was an introvert, a bookworm, an artist … other kids would call me “freak” and “weirdo” and pick on me for being different. I guess I thought coming out would make it worse.
Luckily, in high school, I didn’t have a horrible experience, in part because I was always a good artist, so other kids would come and ask me to draw something for them. I wish I knew at the time that other kids in my high school were gay, because I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only one. And they probably did too.
Is there a moment that stands out to you in your coming out journey?
One of the most memorable moments in my coming out story involves my dad. My dad and I were not close growing up, but I decided to tell him first because I knew that if he was OK with it, everyone else in the family would be, too. He was very supportive and we are really close now because of that.
We were at our big family Christmas gathering, and in front of everyone, my dad gave me a gay love story. It was the first book like that I had ever received. No one else knew what the book was about, but it really touched me that he did that. That was a big demonstration of him supporting me.
What advice would you give LGBTQ+ youth today?
- Love yourself. Don’t feed into any negative beliefs about being gay that you may hear out there in the world.
- Wait for the moment where you’re comfortable with yourself, and then you’ll be ready to take it to the world.
- Find someone you trust to come out to first. Pick someone you think may know already or you have a sense will be supportive.
- It helps to have a grounded support system around you. Look into support resources at school. Talk to a safe adult at school. Surround yourself with friends who love you for who you are.
- Know you’re not alone, even when you think you are. There are many people in this world who are on your side and will help you through life.
What advice would you give parents?
- Understand it’s extremely difficult for your child to come out to you. If they do, tell them, “You are normal, your feelings are normal, and I will love you no matter what.”
- We’re terrified of disappointing our families, or worse, that they’ll throw us away. I’m very lucky that didn’t happen to me. Do not corner or out or expose your child in any way. Let them lead.
- Just like your child, you need to find support. Find other parents going through the same thing so you can talk about your feelings and don’t feel alone.
What is it like to work at Boston Children’s?
I know that all of our doctors and staff members care. They want everyone who comes through our doors to feel safe and protected. I really wanted to make a video so that LGBTQ+ youth and parents know that they are perfectly safe to come here and be who they are.
Watch David’s video:
Learn about LGBTQ+ equality at Boston Children’s Hospital.
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