NOTE FROM JESS CAGLE, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, PEOPLE AND ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:
In the moving comedy-drama Love, Simon (in theaters March 16) Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel star as the parents of Simon, a high schooler played by Nick Robinson who struggles to tell loved ones that he’s gay. Acceptance in America has increased dramatically in recent years, but coming out as LGBTQ is still a profound and often traumatic experience.
PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, along with GLSEN, the non-profit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, invited individuals from all walks of life to share real-life coming out stories. COMING OUT STORIES (produced by Ryan Buxton) can be seen at people.com/comingoutstories and on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).
Artist Paul Robinson knew from a young age that he was gay, but he tried to “push it away as if it didn’t exist,” he says.
Robinson says he tried to date girls in high school but felt like a “fraud.” Then at 26, he dated a man for the first time, and when he told a friend about it, he finally felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“My friendships that I thought were very close tripled in closeness after I came out to them,” Robinson, 53, says. “You realize you’re sharing half of your life. Being gay for me is a large part of who I am.”