Kev grew up in a moderately small city as an only child to a single mother in a Catholic household; his father left him when he was about 3 years old.
“I didn’t know who my dad was; I still don’t know much about him except some very unfortunate things,” he explained.
Though parent and child not always get along, Kev loves his mother to death.
“I love that she did what she could,” Kev said. “I wouldn’t be who I am today [without her]. I wouldn’t be able to be strong enough to advocate for what I need to; I wouldn’t be able to do and to be able to say and to be as open as I am.
“We don’t always agree, but at the end of the day I still love my mother because she took care of me when my father didn’t,” he continued. “She tried her best to be a mother and a father.”
She has a boyfriend of about eight years now, but Kev doesn’t consider him a father figure.
“I love him to death, but he’s not my dad. He came into my life when I was 12, and he’s been a good guidance, but I have to say that he’s not my dad.
“Not having a father I think was really hard on me because I had to grow up,” he explained. “When I went through elementary school, middle school or high school, I was always a little bit above the normal.”
He transferred to a larger school between fifth and sixth grade. He said it “probably wasn’t my smartest decision.”
He went to school with his best friend, Liz, since elementary school. They’ve been to the same school their entire lives except for when Kev attended the University of Wisconsin Whitewater for one semester in fall 2018 while Liz went to UW Oshkosh.
“We’re like brother and sister,” he said.
Due to accessibility limitations, Kev transferred to UWO quickly after that first semester at Whitewater.
He attended Whitewater openly, but said he didn’t talk about it unless he needed to.
Though in elementary, middle and high school, he didn’t know who he was.
“Most people would say, ‘Kev, it was very obvious.’ Well, not to me.”
“I was able to identify it in the summer of 2018. At one point a psychologist asked me if I liked men or women, and I didn’t have an answer,” Kev explained.
At first, he identified as bisexual without knowing the full extent of himself, “ because I thought that something might be there.”
The first person he came out to around August of that year was his cousin from California, who was around 14 at the time.
“I know just in general that California is very accepting of this culture,” he said. “I told her and she said, ‘I don’t care.’”
At this point, Kev felt relieved. He thought it was cool that people don’t care about someone’s sexuality.
“I hear ‘I love you for who you are’ when I hear ‘I don’t care,’” he said.
Not long after telling his cousin, Kev came out to a good friend of his, who responded with “Yeah, I know.”
This wasn’t new to Kev. Today, he’s heard on several occasions that people knew he was gay before even he did himself.
“I was kind of aggravated because they didn’t say anything to me,” he explained. “I’ve learned through conversations with people who did, and they said ‘We can’t tell you that, you have to figure that out on your own.’ I get that more often than not just because of how I present myself and I’m OK with it now that I’m expecting it.”
By the end of August 2018, he was out to everybody he was comfortable with, including his mother.
“With a single parent, it wasn’t great and it was a process,” he said. “I don’t know if she’s even come to terms with it. It’s just not something that’s brought up very often.
“The rest of my family has been pretty good. The only person I haven’t told is my grandma, but I think she’s gotten a hint just because of the way I act. I think we can cross that bridge when there is that special individual in my life permanently.”
His aunt, one of his biggest supporters, isn’t around to see Kev’s dream of getting married one day.
“As of this past August she was the one that I trusted the most. As my mother raised me, she was like a second,” he said. “It’s hard not having her here anymore because the one thing that I wanted was for her to see me get married. I love and miss her dearly.”
But in the end, he knew that once his immediate family knew, he wouldn’t care about anybody else’s opinions. Even if his family isn’t quite used to it, he still loves them.
“I’ve never acted on it in my family’s presence in respect to them because it’s icky to them,” he said. “This is not a choice, and everybody thinks it is.”
Kev said he still wants to remain true to his Christian roots, but the religion and the LGBTQ+ community tend to not mix well.
“I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to go — what that life is going to look like for me — because I like being a man of faith. But also, in order to be a man of faith, you have to have community; you can’t do your faith journey by yourself, and that’s something people don’t realize.
“The main teaching of a Catholic church — told but never acted on — is that you need to love one another for who each other is. We are told not to judge people, but I can tell you there are more Catholics than not that like to give their own more than two cents of their own opinion.”
Kev is a long-time percussionist, and holds true to “This is me” from The Greatest Showman.
“I really love it because this is me, this is who I’m meant to be,” he said. “When I came to Oshkosh [from Whitewater], I made the decision: I’m going to be who I am.”
And for those who can’t or choose not to come out, he said that just going for it may be the best option.
“Sometimes you just gotta do it. You have to be who you are, you have to live the life that you are meant to live, because you’re never going to be fully free [otherwise],” he explained. “I know you want to be free, I know you want to live that life out and you deserve that.
“At some point you come out, and when you do, you’re going to feel free and you’re going to be who you want to be. That is the coolest thing — just to get to see somebody finally get to open up, you see a weight lifted off their shoulders. It’s phenomenal.
“I have a better version of myself now than I ever thought I would. When I look in the mirror, I see who I am instead of this hidden individual. You got to be who you are, because who you’re meant to be is far more beautiful than the picture that somebody painted on you.”