Like a lot of the community, coming out was a hard time for me. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee in a pretty conservative Southern Baptist family. When I came out at 22, though, that same family — that I adored — didn't really know what to do with me. They had a harsh reaction to the news. A lot of things were said and done that we all probably wish we could forget. So the initial experience of being myself inadvertently left me feeling unloved, alone, and scared.