Gay Milwaukee man shares 'coming out' story, hopes to inspire others

Posted at 7:38 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 20:38:12-04

MILWAUKEE -  There is sadness among the LGBT community after learning the Florida gunman may have been questioning his own sexual preference.  A gay Milwaukee man shared his personal coming out story with us in the hope it may help someone else.

Anthony Harris says he knows the sad and lonely life that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen may have been living. Harris was just 13 when he first knew his personal truth and knew better than to tell his parents.

“The way they talked about LGBT people was not in a favorable light," said Harris.

Luckily for Harris, he found an LGBT group for youth in La Crosse where he grew up.
“It was really scary for me to go. I didn’t want people to know I was going. I didn’t want people to see me going there because I still wasn’t ready to come out," said Harris.

In Milwaukee, young men and women can turn to the offices of Diverse and Resilient where Harris now works, or to the LGBT community center. Both offer services to help the LGBT community lead a healthy and open lifestyle.

‘We know that when people are in an environment where they’re not accepted, they’re very likely to experience health disparities that others might not," said Mark Silva of Diverse and Resilient.

‘If they’re struggling with the process of coming out, if they want a place where they can just talk about it, that the Milwaukee LGBT community center is a place where they can do that," said Debra Trakel of the LGBT Community Center.

Harris says getting acceptance has been a journey, and his family and friends have come a long way.

“When they come to Milwaukee to visit, they know they’re coming to visit both uncles and I really love that. I love that next generation of my family is already doing better than the generation that I was from," said Harris.