Jake Conway is the editor of ‘Q’ Magazine, Yale’s first LGBTQ publication. We happened to be in West Hartford the same night he was having the launch party and he found a few minutes beforehand to share his story.
I’m Jake Conway. I’m from West Hartford, Connecticut. And I’m the Editor in Chief of Q magazine at Yale. The story I wanted to tell was my coming out story – when, during Christmas break of sophomore year I had come out here at school. I was sort of outed by a friend which was fine. It was probably better, she propelled me along a little bit, I guess. But I didn’t tell my parents and Yale’s a very gay friendly place. So here I was living the life, having a great time. But when I went home, I was always like – It was always so much agony. I felt very distant from my parents, even though they didn’t do anything to me to make me want to separate myself from them. They were still as loving as they always had been. But when I was home, I couldn’t be near them. Any conversation could potentially lead to this conversation which I had not yet had with them. I remember I went and visited my best friend and we went shopping and she convinced me to get a manicure and then I bought a pink sweater at H&M. And so I got home and I had my nicely clean nails and this nice pink sweater and my mom was kind of just like, “What’s that all about.” I’m from a very liberal family, very open family, but I think it just kind of clicked in her mind at that point because a couple days later – this was Christmas break – she confronted me on the issue and I was horrified. I said, “We’re not talking about this now” and I ran – obviously, that itself, telling her, I effectively outed myself, with that one line. But I locked myself in my room and called my best friend from West Hartford and I said, “I don’t know what to do. My mom just asked me if I was gay.” And I’d already come out to her – so she was always very supportive. And then finally, my mom convinced me to come talk to her and we were talking. We had a very nice conversation. She was very accepting. She was also deeply moved, like very emotional. I think she just didn’t hold these expectations about me and it wasn’t that she couldn’t accept me it was just that she didn’t know how right in that moment because it was so new. And I remember she said one thing, she said, “You know Jake, I’ll support you in what ever life you choose to live.” She said, “I’ll support you in whatever life you choose.” And at the moment I turned to her and with this deep sense of shame I said, “Mom, its not a choice.” I almost felt guilty when I was telling her. It’s like, I wouldn’t choose this life. Why would I choose this life? It’s the hardship, the discrimination, why would I choose this life? It was almost as if I hated myself and was still was hating myself. So I remember thinking back to that conversation with my mom about it not being a choice. I look at myself today and I say, “It shouldn’t be, I’m gay, I was born this way, I can’t change it, pity me.” It’s, “I’m different and there is nothing wrong with that.” There’s nothing wrong with that, even if I chose to live this life – what’s wrong with that? And, for me it’s the ultimate sense of pride.