Coming out with the truth
There was no denying it, D’Andre Anderson was definitely nervous.
It wasn’t like the nerves seen before the big presidential debate in March; no, these nerves were more real and more personal than anything else he has revealed to the audience of A-State.
Hands fidgeting, legs bouncing, he took a deep breath before sitting down and said, “OK. Let’s do this.”
Anderson wants to publicly announce to his friends, colleagues, and the A-State student body that he is coming out as openly gay.
“It has gotten to the point where I feel like I’m not being my true self,” Anderson said. “I just feel like right now I’m about to go through a stage in my life where career opportunities are about to start coming in and going into that type of atmosphere I want the people that I might be associated with to know exactly who I am,” Anderson said.
It wasn’t until he decided to tell his closest friends that he realized he didn’t want this to be a secret anymore.
“I’ve been going back and forth about this for a while now, but the support I have gotten from (friends) and a lot of people, that was pretty much what put me over the top,” Anderson said. “The support made me feel a whole lot more comfortable about it.”
Anderson has slowly been revealing the truth of his sexuality to friends, but during the SGA Presidential campaign, Anderson felt like leaving the race due to his secret.
He set up a meeting with friends Deane Marks, running mate Wes Watts, Tanner Jarrett and told them the reason he felt he needed to leave the race.
“I thought about dropping out of that race because I didn’t want this to affect anything,” Anderson said. “I went in and told them. It was hard. I thought I was going to vomit in there because I didn’t know how they were going to take it.”
While Marks already knew, Watts and Jarrett both looked at him, Anderson said, and said they supported him 150 percent, this wasn’t going to change anything, and they didn’t let him leave the campaign.
“When you have friends that support you like that, tell you things like that, there’s no way you can back out on guys like that,” Anderson said.
Marks, a senior pre-law major of Dewitt, said he is proud of his friend for doing something as hard as this and doesn’t think any differently about him.
“To be honest, I knew. We were pretty close friends before. I guess you kind of pick up on certain things,” Marks said. “The time he invited me to go get a pedicure with him for Chacos season, that’s what put it over the edge.”
Anderson has been aware of his sexuality since middle school, but it wasn’t until college that he acknowledged it.
“Growing up, my whole life, I thought it was a phase. So I thought when I get to high school I’ll grow out of that phase. Then I thought, when I get to college I’ll grow out of it. When I got to college I just embraced it more.”
The first person he told was his longtime friend J’Meia Molina, a senior early childhood development major of Jacksonville whom he has known for eight years. He told her the second semester of his freshman year and on April Fool’s day.
“I remember when you jokingly said it, do you remember that?” Molina asked Anderson between giggles.
Anderson said she didn’t believe him at first and wanted some sort of proof.
“I think it’s brave. I wouldn’t know anybody to just want to do it in a newspaper. But I applaud you,” she said to Anderson. “I couldn’t do it. I’m very proud. I’m excited.”
Watts, a sophomore pre-law major of Jonesboro, believes that everybody’s private life is personal and theirs alone, so there was no change when Anderson came out to him.
“When I think of D’Andre, the few words that come to mind are goofball, goofball, and goofball. I think I saw a side to him that a lot of people don’t see when we were running together and I thought it was pretty funny and I made a close friend pretty quick,” Watts said. “I don’t think of him as anything other than my friend.”
Family members have also been finding out recently about Anderson’s sexuality. Over Spring Break, Anderson’s grandmother asked him point blank in front of his mother and he told the truth.
“I just said yes,” Anderson said. “There was no reaction (from my mom). We still haven’t talked about it. I’ve been waiting for her to say something about it, but she still hasn’t said anything.”
His grandmother, who Anderson is really close to, has been asking him for years. Anderson said in the past he would just nod as a reply.
“It’s not something that is new, but it is new because it is finally confirmed,” he said. “I actually came out and said it.”
Anderson said he feels he does have family support, even if it isn’t 100 percent. The person who he is most nervous about coming out to is his younger brother, an 18-year-old high school senior.
“My younger brother, that’s going to be the hardest,” Anderson said, “because my mom, she’s mature, but my younger brother—he’s looked up to me his whole life. I’ve been his role model, pretty much the father figure in his life, and that’s going to be tough.”
Anderson foresees shock, surprise, and even disappointment from his brother, but from people on campus, the reaction is sure to vary.
“If Deane would’ve known this about me prior to this I don’t think we would’ve been best friends, but him knowing after we became best friends, it didn’t affect anything.”12
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