The Most Life-Altering Text Message I Have Ever Received.

Sometime in the summer of 2011

“Hey, this may be a weird question and I don’t mean to offend you, but are you bi or gay? I’m kinda getting that vibe” This was probably followed by some emoji to relieve some of the tension.

“Hahaha no I’m not.” I didn’t think so.

People made “gay” jokes towards me while growing up, but I never took offense to it because I genuinely didn’t believe I was gay. I also went to a Catholic elementary school, so I guess the jokes were really only jokes in my head. Flash forward to the summer I was going into 10th grade – the first time I began seriously questioning my sexuality.

Were people right all along and I never really noticed?

I had girlfriends in middle school. I know that doesn’t really count, but it still says something. At this point, I’ve realized that attraction and sexual orientation are two seperate things.

October 31, 2011

I celebrated Halloween night the way any 10th grader would. I went to a local elementary school with some of my friends then walked around the town and did 10th-grade stuff.

“Hey, Tom. Where are you? Want to meet at the middle school playground?”

“Hey! I’m walking back to my friend’s house now. Once we get there, I can probably sneak away.”

This was the first night I had ever made out with a guy.

Making out with boys is the same as making out with girls. I don’t think after this night I knew I was gay, but it furthered my understanding of the difference between attraction and sexual orientation. It didn’t feel wrong. I didn’t feel uncomfortable. For me, this night verified that I’m attracted to both boys and girls, but I was still figuring out the whole sexual orientation thing.

November 2, 2011

“Tom, want to come over and watch some TV?”

“Sure! I’ll be over soon.”

I don’t remember what we watched, but I remember we made out again.

I wasn’t very sexually active at this point in my life, so I had a boundary that I wasn’t going to go any further than making out until things were exclusive. Remember… I was in 10th grade. But after this night, I began to catch “the feels” for this guy and it was way different than with any girl I’ve been with beforehand. I never felt the need to be sexually active with a girl, but now, I was starting to feel like I wanted to be. It was weird af for me. I finally began understanding what sexual orientation is.

I had been told being gay was wrong while growing up. Well, maybe not that it was wrong, but I always got the hint from teachers, family members, and my parents. I grew up in the age where “You’re so gay!” was yelled at someone who wasn’t doing what was desired. And I can’t forget to mention how my mom would mutter snarky comments under her breath if we ever saw someone who was “feminine” walking around in the stores she dragged me into. C’mon mom, we’re in Khol’s. What do you expect?

I never really thought about it because I guess I was never encouraged to. I wasn’t ever in a situation where I felt like I could explore the thought of myself being gay. Not that I was suppressed by any means, I just was never put in a situation where I felt like I was gay. So, why even think about it?

December 4, 2011

“Hey, Mom. I have something to tell you…”

Not going to lie, I chugged a whole 4 Loko in 5 minutes after doing this. It was 10th grade.

The next year was the hardest of my life so far. My dad then found out, then my brother. “Don’t you dare tell your sister.” Constant tension in the hallways of my house. Texting fights so no one could hear. I never felt suppressed until this time of my life by the person who mattered most.

Strangely, things started looking up when I brought my first “boyfriend” home to meet my parents. Maybe my family was seeing that I’m still who I was before coming out and it’s not a big deal. Everything was all out on the table and my dad started making jokes about it. I’m the type of person who likes to laugh at myself, and these jokes weren’t offensive. It became normal. It got better.

It’s better than ever before.

We’ve never been living in a better time in terms of the views on LGBTQ+. Yes, the big guy in the White House isn’t necessarily the ideal candidate for this community. Yes, there are so many tremendous problems in our world due to ignorance for other communities of people. Yes, we could be in an even better time. This may be just my opinion, but being part of the LGBTQ+ has never been so, okay.

We still have a long way to go until America is really “great again.” People need to stop killing other people; people need to start respecting each other. We’re all alive for a reason. It’s time to encourage each other to fulfil our passions and let each other do it in their own unique way.


What was your coming out story like? Are you part of a suppressed community in modern society? I want to hear what you guys go through because the more we know, the more we can feel empathy for each other. Please share your stories in the comments below.


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A Personal Letter To Danceworks as My Time As President Comes To An End

“Congratulations, Tom, you are now officially the President of Danceworks Productions.”

Around a year ago today, I was inducted as President of the most incredible club I’ve every known about. For those of you who don’t know what this club does, let me briefly explain. Danceworks Productions is the largest organization at Hofstra University with over 150 member. It is also a completely student run organization. We audition choreographers and select 11-13 dance pieces which will be in our production. A few days later, we hold dancer auditions where these choreographers show their dances and select their casts after a four-hour process. As the semester continues, each dance has an hour and a half rehearsal once a week leading up to the show.  As all of this work is being done, we participate in multiple social events to build a bond amongst the club and the Hofstra community, as well as a handful of philanthropy events where we raise money for various charities. We, as a club, do this every semester (so twice per academic year). There is no other club on Hofstra University’s campus that does all of this – it’s truly remarkable.

From Fall 2015-Spring 2017 I served as the Publicity and Promotions chair. I promoted the auditions and shows through various mediums, as well as designed all of the apparel for those two years. Following this role, I had the privilege and honor to be President of this incredible club. At the point in time I am writing this, I only have around 24 hours left as President of Hofstra University Danceworks Productions President. As I reminisce about my time at Hofstra, Danceworks has been the heart and soul of why I’ve loved my time at Hofstra University.

I’d like to take the time to write a letter to Danceworks – more specifically the members of this club who I’ve grown from because of their footprints left on my heart. If you were in Danceworks anywhere between 2015 to Spring 2018, this one is for you:

Dear Danceworks,

I’ve dedicated three years of my life to you. I’ve sacraficed a huge part of my free time, missing family events, and breaks within the academic schedule to fulfil my responsibilities to you. I’ve been on call 24 hours/7 days a week for years to jump on any situation I may have to mediate or rectify. Yes, most of the time I’ve had to do things at the most inconvenient times when I wanted to do almost anything else, but in the end, I loved every minute of it.

When I started at Hofstra University, I was a commuter. I absolutely hated it and my first semester I wanted to transfer. I looked into it and started talking to friends who attended other schools around the nation. I knew it was best to finish out the year so I sat on the option of leaving to pursue a different experience away from home. When my second semester started, I decided to audition for Danceworks Productions. At that point, I hadn’t really danced since I was 10 years old; I danced like the Tin Man does when Dorothy first meets him at that first audition. I didn’t get into the show that semester, but I wanted to take advantage of the other 66% you participate in. I hung out with you alone at the first social event and from there, everthing fell into place.

Within a month I was offered a room in an off campus house occupied by your members. I couldn’t believe it and I jumped on the opportunity. I continued to participate in anything I could and I even helped with selling tickets at the shows. I knew this club was something I wanted to be part of regardless of what I was doing. This mentality led me to run for Danceworks Productions executive board as Publicity and Promotions Chair. Long story short, I was elected and then re-elected the following year.

As I mentioned before, I hadn’t danced in a while. I wanted to grow as a dancer, as well as a leader of this club. I practiced and focused a majority of my time at Hofstra to getting better and eventually be casted into the shows. After another semester of not being casted, I had the privledge of being selected into the Spring 2016 and have been since. Once I was casted, I focused my attention on diversifying my abilities away from only doing hip-hop dances to eventually also dancing in contemporary and jazz pieces as well.

A few weeks before the elections for my senior year, I decided to push myself even further and run for President. What? I met you as a below average dancer and now I’m going for President of a dance club? This was no where near what I thought my time in Danceworks would lead to. I wanted to create a higher meaning of this club for myself so this was the perfect opportunity. I worked hard on my speech as I did everything involving you up to that point which resulted in my election as Danceworks Productions President.

My time at Hofstra has taught me five things about myself which I would have never learned if I didn’t audition for this club back in 2015. They are:

DANCE

Like I’ve discussed, I didn’t have a thorough background or training in dance. I took the time to listen to my peers in the club and, from that, I gained a better understanding on how to dance and how to look at dance from a technical standpoint. Your members are among the most talented dancers at Hofstra and this made it easy for me to see how to dance properly through observation and immitation. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to connect my mind and body, which I’ve applied to all aspects of my life.

PERSISTENCE

Many members don’t get casted into your shows, especially their first semester or two auditioning. This is inevitable and dance is competitive, therefore I had to learn how to take the rejection and grow from it. Many people have problems doing this but when you do, there are many more pros than cons. I learned how to take a “failure” and make it a positive. I didn’t get into the show my first two semesters, one of which I was on the executive board for. I could have dropped the club and sought a different avenue to get involved, but, let’s be honest, doing just that shows immaturity and lack of character. I used this rejection to become an even better dancer than I would have if I stopped trying to get into the Danceworks show. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me that failure is an opportunity to be better than if I was successful in the first place.

COMMUNICATION

Being on e-board means we are responsible for the operation of a club of over 150 of your members. Inevitably, I have had to communicate with almost each and every person in the club every year for three years. As President, this duty only increased and I had to mediate hundreds of conflicts and situations. This was extremely uncomfortable at times, especially because I’m friends with most of these people. But my time on e-board has taught me to have those difficult conversations and deal with circumstances I didn’t feel comfortable doing. As I dealt with these particular conflicts, I grew to understand I am capable of having these tricky interactions and have an effective outcome. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me how to handle conflicts in a mature and effective manner, especially when it involves friends.

 PRIDE

Imagine auditioning for something you worked really hard on for a year and you got shut down twice already. You’d feel pretty defeated. Now imagine you go into the following audition and get casted into, not only one, but two pieces! I didn’t know it then, but the rejection only allowed me to experience exuberance I would have never felt if I wasn’t shut down beforehand. Taking a step away from focusing on the dancing aspect of the club: the kid who had trouble getting into the shows a few times was elected President his senior year. I know back in 2015, no one ever expected that to happen. As I’m creeping on 24 hours left as President, I am the most proud of myself I’ve ever been. I don’t think I’ve ever been proud of myself until this past year as I’ve constantly reflected on my journey in the club. I believe I’m the only male President of Danceworks in history of the club and I think I’m one of a few, if the only, President of a dance club that didn’t have significant training throughout my life. I’m usually humble but I’m unique in this aspect and that’s an honor to say. Thank you, Danceworks, for teaching me to be proud of myself.

CONFIDENCE

Confidence. I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my middle school and high school careers. I have even taken leadership in elementary school when the teacher was obligated to handle a more crucial situation. I know I am a type A personality, but I’ve never been completely confident. Through all I’ve accomplished and grown as a dancer, friend and leader, I’ve been more aware of my confidence as a person. These past few years have put me in the best and worst positions of my life, but I’m still breathing and after careful reflection, I realized that my confidence has sky-rocketed. I’m taking this confidence and I’m in the process of creating my own business. Without this club, I would have never learned crucial life lessons of rejection, failure, success and discomfort. Thank you, Danceworks, for giving me the confidence to set up my life for success and prosperity.

These are only a few things I’ve learned from participating in Danceworks Productions and working my way to eventually become President. You have given me so many opportunities to grow into the man I am today and I’m beyond grateful for the things I’ve learned through meeting such incredible and talented people along the way. The members of this club have pushed me beyond what I thought I could achieve. This is something I will cherish forever and utilize as I take on the real-world post-graduation. I’ve watched this club become better and better each year and as I leave this organization in the hands of Morgan, I know you’re only going to get better. I cannot wait to see the club grow along with the members of this club. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, Danceworks, and continue to do so for as many people as possible.

With much love,

Tom Fraher

To the members of Danceworks who are graduating, coming back next semester or thinking of joining, you don’t know what you have until it’s (almost) gone. Be mindful of what Danceworks is giving you along the way and reflect on what you’ve taken away from this club. The more meaning you give the club, the further you will grow.