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Exhale

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He didn't mean for it to take this long. Last year Dan was ready to post this now infamous June video, but with tour and everything else going on at that time it didn't feel right. He loved his fans and the community but he knew he would never be able to handle the anxiety of the rest of his and Phil's tour being all about the fact he is gay.

Gay.

Dan sucks in a sharp breath and shutters slightly at that word. He doesn't hate it, in fact he loves it, but it took so long to get to this point. He hates to admit it, but at times it still reminds him of the negativity that used to surround that word.

"Dan, you're making that face again. Are you sure you are ready?"

Phil's gentle voice reminds him that he is not within grasps of those bullies anymore. He is safe.

"Dunno," He replies with honesty. This year has all been dedicated to finding his truth and living life with more transparency. He knows he has worked far too hard on this video, this project, to reject it now.

"There are still a few more weeks of pride month left, why don't you give it some more time? It was just your birthday, we can just celebrate that for now," Phil suggests. Of course he suggests that because he never wants to push Dan beyond his limits.

Still, something about today feels right.

"I'm doing it," Dan says with a look of determination on his face. However, his hands are still shaking. Suddenly he pulls his hand away from the button again.

"I can't do it," He says with a defeated and frustrated huff.

Phil gets up from his position across the room to sit right next to Dan. Instantly, Dan feels himself relax as Phil's arm wraps around his shoulders.

"This isn't a race you know," He reminds Dan.

And he is right, it isn't a race, but it has felt like he's kept this huge part of himself a secret for so long now. It is now suffocating him...he just wants to be able to breathe.

"What if they hate me?"

"What if they hate you?" Phil shoots right back at him instatly. It's annoying when he does this but it's sometimes exactly what he needs.

Dan thinks about it. Realistically, he isn't going to lose fans over this but it is still a nerve wracking thought. He thinks about all the comments about how he is doing this for money, he thinks about all the people who will try and profit off of his coming out, and he thinks about all the people who will try and tell him he is disgusting and shouldn't be an influence to the youth.

His stomach churns at all those thoughts. The world may have progressed a million miles since he first discovered himself, but it still has a million miles to go.

"I can literally hear you thinking. Yes there will be people who don't understand, but now think about the ones who will," Phil says gently.

His immediate response is to smile. It comes so naturually when he thinks about those who look up to him. Yes people will hate him, and yes people will accuse him of things, but giving at least one other person the courage to come out obliterates the rest.

He thinks about how he used to feel and how if someone would have supported him back in his youth how different this would be. He knows he would have more pride. He knows he would be proud of himself. He is already so proud of his fans, knowing he can give them a reason to be filled with pride should be enough...but sadly, it's not.

Dan has taken so much time off this past year from uploading and interacting, all to figure himself out. He knows who he is, he knows he is gay, but he is still scared. He feels like an insecure teenager all over again. Lost, afraid, and self-hating.

But then there is Phil. He is so lucky he never has to fear alone because he knows he will always have support. Even if everyone in the world hated him, he would still have Phil.

"I'm nervous," Dan finally chokes out.

"I know. I am nervous for you, but i am also so proud of you. Even if for some reason you never upload this video, I am still so proud. I've watched you grow up Dan and I have always been on your side. Nothing changes that. Remember how scared you were to even tell your family? Well, you did it. It took a long time, but you are out to them. All the important people in your life know and if that is where you want to stop, that is enough. There is no right or wrong when it comes to 'coming out'."

Dan feels a surge of warmth and admiration at Phil's words. He is right, there are no rules because dammit this is his sexuality. But something that he said stood out to him and suddenly he slams his finger down onto the upload button.

Phil looks at him with a look of sudden shock before he absolutely beams at Dan. "What changed your mind?"

"You said that the all the important people of my life know, but that is not true. They are important too," He says motioning to the computer screen as his video is on display.

Finally, he feels himself letting out a breath he's been holding for a majority of his life. He can know exhale.