It is important to come out whenever you are ready. There isn’t a specific deadline you have to meet. There is not a set criteria that has to be met before you do. What’s most important is that you have to accept yourself for who you are. It has been over 3 years since I’ve come out and knowing what I know now, I wish I did it when I was younger.
I don’t really know why it took me so long to come out — it was a mixture of things I guess. Firstly, going to a high school that wasn’t particularly gay friendly could have caused for my “glory years” to be absolutely terrible. It took me a while after I graduated to realize that those four years of high school weren’t the defining moments of my life, even though they seemed like they were at the time. I also didn’t have a close group of friends to confide in. It has taken me many years to finally realize who will be by my side every step and sashay of the way (Picture Millhouse sashaying — that’s exactly what I look like). Their acceptance and positive words have instantly made me a stronger person and have given me the encouragement I need to be the person I am.
When I turned 19 (That’s the legal age up here in the great white north according to the majority of Americans, also known as Toronto, Ontario) things got that much more confusing for me. I went out to a bunch of straight clubs and bars with my friends. Being in the closet for the first couple of years of my legal life, I knew that much more that I was gay. I had no interest in picking up girls, even though I did occasionally dance with some; there was no spark or arousal. I can’t even go into detail about what happened those years because I spent them getting drunk to the point I couldn’t remember anything the next day. Three cheers for blackouts! (This is sarcasm and I don’t condone getting through this by use of inebriation!)
I come from a traditional Italian family who I have always thought would not have been accepting of my lifestyle choice. I know everyone says that family will accept you no matter what, but that’s not a reality. All it takes is a quick YouTube search to discover that sad truth. I lived the majority of my life for everyone else. I had to live by my family’s standards just to make them happy. I was starting to get sick of living only for the people I surrounded myself with, so I did something the majority of my family didn’t expect at all. I would say that for the most part, my whole family was pretty surprised about my big reveal but they all looked at me with loving eyes and words of encouragement. Ever since, it has been a learning experience for all of us and to be honest, that part of all this has been amazing.
I personally felt that I owed it to myself to live my life happily. I spent my whole adolescence (and then some) pretending. On the surface, my life was Cady Heron, the happy baby prostitute who roamed the halls of North Shore and worked hard to get everyone to like her. Underneath, I was just Lindsay Lohan, living a life of sadness and lies but without the Botox. I know — it sounds kind of dramatic but I’m done with hiding things so I only speak the truth here. Harboring that guilt and not giving myself the opportunity to feel the basic emotions that everyone is entitled to was not fair. I wanted to know what it felt like to be in love, to meet people that have gone through the same experiences as me and to hopefully make like-minded friends that offer more support.
For those that are struggling with this same internal issue or on the cusp of making the decision to come out, I offer you this: Do it when you are 100% ready! This isn’t a decision that should be forced or rushed. It is a horrible double standard that the gay community has to come out to their whole entire social network. I don’t remember any of my straight friends coming out to their family saying “Mom…Dad, I’m straight.” We are not defined by our sexual orientation. When you’re ready, keep in mind that everyone will react differently. You have to make sure to be strong and reassure those around you that you are still the same. In my case, I decided to tell people who are very close to me. The rest of the world can figure it out for themselves. This way, you end up opening yourself to a new community of individuals and experiences that will hopefully help you live a much happier and fulfilling life (Cue in thoughts of closet doors opening with rainbows and glitter everywhere — I promise, this does not happen. It’s much more civilized and less pride parade) that isn’t defined solely by your sexuality.
Because I haven’t written enough already, I’ll offer you one final thought: Give yourself the opportunity to be happy. You owe it to yourself. At the end of the day it is your own life and no one else’s.
Originally published at comingoutwelcomemanual.com on June 1, 2015.