In honor of National Coming Out day (Oct 11, 2014), I thought I’d write about my Coming Out experiences. I write in my book about first coming out to my brother. I wrote him a letter. I was in my late teens so not all that comfortable with verbal communication. I wasn’t sure how he’d take it but he was ecstatic. It made us just that much closer. It opened up a world of Gay Pride Celebrations, learning to become comfortable with myself and living a life out of the closet, not having to look over my shoulder or conjure up stories of “roommates” or “female friends” and why we’d lived together for years or went out together every weekend.
It wasn’t always happy times though. There was a lot of anxiety to begin with along with the fear of rejection from my family and friends. When I was a young adult, I decided, along with some pressure from my brother, that I should tell my mom. She took it ok. She grieved some over me having a “normal” life but in the end, she was resolved to just wanting me to be happy.
It took a few more years before I was able to come out to my dad. I guess I knew that my mom wouldn’t reject me but I wasn’t so sure about my dad. As with my mom, he said he’d known all along but his struggle was with how to introduce me and my partner to his friends. We went through some practice scenarios until he was comfortable.
I was beginning to be comfortable, wearing my Keith Haring Coming Out t-shirt, but still not truly out of the closet. My employer didn’t know and the majority of my straight friends didn’t know. It took even more years to get through to them all. When we decided to move to another state, it forced us to come out to our employer. I quit my job and needed to be on my partner’s insurance so it was imperative to not only come out to them but to ensure that they offered domestic partner benefits. It was a huge hurdle to overcome but it was so necessary.
What made things a bit easier was that me and my partner ended up working at the same place so it sort of forced people to face the fact that they worked with gay people. It was a bit of forceful acceptance.
What’s funny is that when Facebook first came around, I was terrified to join because I knew that I’d have to come out to more of my old friends from school. I’d already come out to both of my parents, my only sibling, co-workers and employers but still faced the fear of rejection from lifelong friends. I expressed my concerns to my partner and heard her when she explained that if those lifelong friends couldn’t deal with the fact that I was the same person that they’d known for our entire lives, then we didn’t need to continue to be friends. It was loud and clear and I even agreed but I didn’t want to lose my friends. And I haven’t. Most already knew, just as my parents and my brother knew and the others that didn’t know, didn’t really care.
I live my life now, not even giving being gay a second thought. I have an incredible person that I share my life with. We don’t put a label on ourselves so we don’t expect anyone else to. We’re just who we are. We do the same things that straight people do.
I know it hasn’t been this easy for everyone and I don’t take that for granted. My brother is actually gay as well and I thank him and all those that have come before me. They paved the way and made the first, crucial breakthroughs that have allowed others to walk after them, with our heads held high. Having come from a small, rural, southern town, my brother was actually shot at. He had bullet holes in his car. That is inconceivable to me today but I know that it still happens and it’s just ludicrous. How one human being can want to harm another human being just over the person they love is just stupid. There is no longer room for narrow minded people in this world.
Differentiation is what makes the world goes round. If there’s anything I could offer to anyone that has yet to come out, it would be to find someone that you trust and are comfortable with and talk it over with them first. It will allow you to try out your words and find your voice. Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are. And know that you’re not alone. We’ve all faced the same fear to which I hope you find resolution and comfort to.