Tuscaloosa resident Tom Ryan* lives in fear of his coworkers finding out about a lifestyle some would call “alternative.”
“I’m so afraid of what they’ll do if they find out,” said Ryan, 27. “What if I’m fired over this? I can’t afford to lose my job.”
Ryan has kept his secret for his entire life. He says he knew from a young age that he was different from the other children in his rural Alabama town. The other children knew, too.
“Everyone knew I wasn’t like them. They would torment me and call me disgusting names. I once had a girl break up with me when she found out.”
Ryan has recently decided it’s time to come out of hiding and celebrate his differences.
In a recent Facebook post, Ryan wrote, “It’s time for me to stop hiding. I’m proud of who I am and while I know many of you suspected, it’s time I say it. I know I may lose friends and loved ones over this, but I can’t continue to hide who I am. I don’t like sweet tea. I have lived in Alabama most of my life, and just don’t enjoy it at all.”
Ryan was met with mixed reactions, but since coming out has said he is much happier.
“I’m not living a lie anymore. I can finally order what I want to drink at a restaurant without wondering if I look suspicious. Coming out has given me a new take on life.”
*Name changed for privacy