In April 2015, I was heading back to my quarters at the naval base in Pensacola, Fla. I was on a high, riding my motorcycle back to base after spending the night with a guy I seeing.
I suddenly felt a lot of vibrations and it wasn't a bumpy road. It was the phone in my pocket, buzzing with Instagram messages.
"Explain this," one said. "Curnick, are you gay? Don't lie to us," said another.
My heart pounding, I pulled over to the side of the road. One of my friends had been going through my Instagram photos and found one of me with another guy on the back of my motorcycle. Their messages wanted to know the truth. I realized my biggest fear had come to fruition.
I was alone at the time and in tears, and I decided to come clean — yes, I'm gay, I told them. The reactions started coming in and, to my relief and surprise, they were overwhelmingly positive. While I did lose a few friends, the ones closest to me became even closer, because I no longer had to lie about who I was and for the first time they knew what was really going on in my life. Pensacola will always hold a place in my heart for changing me in the way it did.
After I came over that final hurdle, I began to live openly, and my life as a gay man flourished. That's not to say everyone in the military is supportive. This past spring, in combat training before my deployment to Afghanistan, someone found out I was gay, walked up to me and said, "I'm glad I'm not deploying with you, I wouldn't trust a fag with my life." This despite the fact I was one of the better marksmen and performers in my class. I use comments like that to fuel my fire to succeed in everything that I do.
If you're wondering why a Sailor is writing a story for Outsports it's because I have been a water polo player in high school and college and still play competitively. I am now in the U.S. Navy, serving in Afghanistan. I have lived in two countries, four states and on both coasts of the U.S.
I grew up in a medium-size conservative town in Southern California. I started playing water polo in 7th grade, eventually playing at Great Oak High School in Temecula. My life got interesting after high school. When I was 18 I moved halfway around the world to Madrid, Spain, to attend college and play water polo at an elite level. After a year in Spain I returned to Southern California where I played water polo for another year at Palomar College.
I didn't come out until I was almost 21. I grew up thinking that being gay was wrong — that being gay meant you fit a stereotype. It meant that you were a pathetic, weak, purse-toting excuse for man. I now know that's not the case.
The day I first came out to anyone in February 2014 was the most emotional experience of my life. My hands were shaking and voice was cracking. I lived in Florida at the time, and my two best friends — both girls — were at college in different parts of the country and my family was in California. I was scared. I sent my two friends a group text. They responded with nothing but love and affection. One of them even Face-timed me, and saw me in tears, right next to the guy I was dating at the time.
Next up was my mom. She was at work, so I sent her a text: "Mom, I have something to tell you ... I'm gay." She immediately called, telling me how much she loved me. She had asked me many times growing up if I was gay, but being afraid of who I was, I never could admit it... Continue reading.
This has been reposted from Outsports.