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Finding Acceptance

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Now: Christopher Henry is a smiling soon-to-be college graduate.
Now: Christopher Henry is a smiling soon-to-be college graduate.

Once a bullied teen, Christopher Henry now has the friends and confidence he wanted.
by Donalevan Maines

Christopher Henry has the most amazing parents. He came out to them when he was only 10—and they were fine with it. When he was old enough to date, they let him have a boyfriend. Growing up in Katy, when his assistant principal “wasn’t supportive” of him, Henry says, “My mother wouldn’t take that as an answer.”

It gets better.

Henry liked playing volleyball, so in 2009 his parents found him a gay league in Houston, drove him to practice every week, and attended all of his games.

That was a turning point in his confidence, after enduring the hostility of fellow students in middle school and his first two years of high school. “Eating by myself, not having many friends, feeling ostracized when other people were hanging out at the mall,” he says.

Other players in the Lone Star Volleyball Association “would thank my parents and tell them it was really marvelous how they supported me,” says Henry. “I became more accepting of myself, and as I exuded more confidence, I was more accepted by others.”

In his senior year at Cinco Ranch High School, Henry was editor of the yearbook and the school newspaper. Fellow students nominated him for the homecoming court.

Now 20, Henry graduates in May with a degree in public relations after just three years at Texas State University in San
Marcos.

This summer, he backpacks through Europe. It’s his graduation gift from supportive parents Christopher Sr. and Christina.

Henry was a sixth-grader at a Catholic school in New York when he came out to his parents. “People always called me gay,” he explains, “but I was so young, I didn’t know what it was about. I looked it up and told my parents, and they were completely accepting of me.

“I didn’t understand the stigma attached to it, but my parents told me it would be okay. They were so amazing and comforting. They told me that later in life, there would be people who love me for me.”

That summer, before Henry entered sixth grade, he and his parents moved to Katy. “There was no stigma for me, Texas versus New York,” he says. “Only later did I realize that Texas has such conservative public policies.”

Then, Christopher felt ostracized for being gay during his middle-school years.
Then, Christopher felt ostracized for being gay during his middle-school years.

In middle school, says Henry, his mother, “who was really invested in my life and my education,” made sure that his assistant principal and his counselor—both of whom were women—did their jobs. He still remembers their words of assurance: “You have three mothers now.”

High school was “difficult,” Henry says. “I had my first boyfriend in 10th grade, but I was out and he wasn’t, so we had to have our relationship in secrecy. We were not able to talk about it outside of my house,” says Henry. “When it ended after five months, I wasn’t able to tell my friends how it felt.”

Henry “only applied to colleges that were liberal in nature,” and he found a “fabulous” fit. “I made friends very early,” he says. “Texas State is very liberal. There are three different organizations on campus that focus completely on the LGBT community and how to help handle certain situations.”

In college, Henry has found friends “who love me for me,” which is what his parents promised him would happen. “Being gay is not something that people define me as,” he says.

Next fall, Henry says, “I’ll go back to New York and hopefully work in the PR and communications industry. I love learning about people and their lives. That might come from wanting to make friends and be accepted when I was younger.”

Never a star volleyball player, Henry says he still likes to play, even though he’s not that good.

“I still keep kneepads in my closet,” he says.

Donalevan Maines also writes about By the Way, Meet Vera Stark in this issue of OutSmart magazine.

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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