From the outside, Michael Martin was the model of a flourishing high school student — the all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in West Virginia also played on the school’s football, tennis and swim teams. He’s thoughtful, articulate and optimistic. He had a secret, though: He’s gay. But it wouldn’t stay a secret for long.
And it’s how he decided to come out that initially got our attention. It just screams feel-good tearjerker, and even comes complete with a Taylor Swift soundtrack. How very now.
Michael had begun to see a boy from another school, Jem, and when Jem’s homecoming dance came around (and he happened to be the homecoming king), the two worked it out so they could both be there. Michael’s “date” was another girl from Jem’s school (even high school kids have beards), but as the dance progressed, the two boys got braver.
It wasn’t until the final song, though — Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” — that Michael and Jem walked on to the dance floor as an excited duo and slow jammed in each other’s arms.
Well once you have a taste of that freedom, there’s no going back. Later that night Michael asked Jem to be his boyfriend, and when Michael’s homecoming dance came up, there was only one option.
This time, though, the two danced all night, and for most of Michael’s classmates, it was the first time they knew he was gay.
“It was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria — “Remember When” by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. “That is so cute!” some girls said. It made us felt accepted.”
Word quickly spread around school, and despite some chatter of “faggot” going around, Michael was impressed by how many people stuck up for him.
The same went for his teammates, and now Michael is not only a promising athlete, thoughtful, articulate and optimistic, he’s also open about who he is. Oh, and finally happy.
“For me to be happy, I needed to come out. I didn’t want to hide how I really was any more. I didn’t want to live every day with a secret hanging over my head. I told my team before my own parents. My family was not accepting at first but is starting to come around and support me. I just had to keep telling them that I can’t change who I am and that I am the same teenager that I was before.”