For years, Tennessee native Nephi Niven tried keeping his sexual orientation a secret. But over time, it started to wear on him. He became physically ill and depressed. So he did what a lot of young gay people do: He sought help.
Niven made an appointment with a mental health counselor at his college.
“I told [the therapist] I was gay and I was thinking about coming out of the closet,” he recalls in a new video produced by I’m From Driftwood, a nonprofit archive for LGBT stories. “He listened thoughtfully and said he was glad that I had come.”
“Then told me that I would need years of therapy.”
“I didn’t really understand what he was saying at first,” Niven continues. “He made it clear that gay people come from violent backgrounds and are likely to be violent and abusive people and needed lots of therapy.”
But Niven wasn’t having it.
“I started yelling at him,” he says. “And I told him that there was nothing wrong with gay people, and they weren’t sick, and they weren’t gay because they came out of abusive families or situations, and they weren’t abusers.”
“I grabbed my coat and ran out of the office,” he says. “And over the course of the next couple of weeks, I started to summon the courage to tell my friends and my family.”
Now he’s sharing his story with the world. He hopes it will inspire other young LGBT people to speak up against homophobic critics.
“When confronted with any situation like that, standing up for yourself will give you strength in moving forward,” Niven says.
Hear Niven tell his story in the video below.