Coming out: Because I am Tired of Explaining it Over and Over Again.
I have been out publicly since November of 2015. But I have known of this part of my life for far longer than that, dating back to 4 years earlier in middle school. The world has changed since the days of the 1980’s where homosexuals were considered the sole “benefactors” of aids, and were somehow miscreants of society as they represented sexual deviants, and were routinely criticized by the hypocritical family values wing of the conservative party. Those like Senator John Ensign liked to criticize the homosexual community for their lifestyle while he himself was committing adultery, and those like Larry Craig protested just a little too much.
But never the less, this is not a political rant, this is discussing how I came out. It’s not a story of pain, or triumph so please don’t think you are about to read a manuscript for a new lifetime original. This is more or less the more common story told in today’s new generation of LGBT youth. While I encourage you to go and support those who have far worse stories than mine, it is important to understand the different stories that there are as there are a myriad of outcomes and stories to be told. So here is mine.
I realized when I was gay when I was in middle school. This took several years to understand, and even longer to accept. When you see other students, male students, and you think “They’re very handsome” that is one thing. When you see those same people and envy the girls they are with, that is completely different. I first rationalized this by telling myself that I envied the look, and wanted to look like those guys. This was something I told myself for a solid twelve seconds.
I knew I was lying to myself.
I knew that I liked them. I wanted them to like me like they liked those girls. But I knew they didn’t. I also knew that the only way to mask what I was feeling was to find a girl that would date me. And so the hunt began. I tried to find someone who was kind, sweet, and funny. Looks didn’t matter at that time, I just needed to be able to relate to them. This hunt started off feeling like it was a simple match game, but ended up feeling like I was looking for the loch ness monster; futile and built on a fantasy. It took me 5 years to find someone who would date me and when I did, it didn’t go as well. I took this lovely person (who I remain friends with to this day) to a steakhouse only to find out that she was a vegan.
Great. Nice move.
Then we awkwardly bumbled around a local shopping center and stopped to listen to the band play in the green area. It looked nice. But it felt extremely awkward. That would be our one and only date. I decided that I couldn’t date her knowing who I was, I also knew that I would never be able to make her smile the way the other boys could (it’s discussions in my head like this that caused my family to think I was 16 going on 36). I knew that I would constantly be looking for something else.
After that, I realized that the life I wanted was not going to cooperate with a homosexual lifestyle. I wanted a public life where I was serving my community. But being from North Carolina, I didn’t believe my community would accept me. I also held the fear that the deeply religious factions of my family wouldn’t accept me either. They wouldn’t see me as a Yankee fan, or an avid watcher of the Good Wife, or as a devilishly charming and strapping young man who is single and ready to mingle (Now I’m just describing my dating profile).
I would be Gay. Nothing else. So I realized that I had only three options.
- Marry someone and have an “open marriage.” This was quickly nixed because I wanted to be able to marry the love of my life, not treat them like a side piece. I also wanted to respect the person I marry, not treat them like an object.
- Marry someone and keep this a secret. This would not just hurt myself, but it would hurt everyone involved. If I did this, I would never live the life I know I want and need. I also knew that this would hurt whoever I married and would hurt the family of hers. I knew this would hurt the kids I would have with her. I couldn’t do this.
- Death. This was an option that I never discussed with anyone and never thought I would in anyway entertain, and I didn’t. I understood that if I chose this option I would never be able to explain in any note I wrote that this wasn’t the fault of anyone I loved. My family would never understand this. It’s important to believe that this option was never really an option, it was something that floated through my head because of what had happened so often to people who share my situation.
I had to add a fourth option.
4. Come out.
So I did. I came out in July to my grandfather who told me that no matter what, I would always be loved, and that whoever I brought around would be loved. I told my mother after I asked for a therapist. She struggled to realize why I needed one which I understood because I didn’t tell her why I was depressed or needed a therapist. She was stunned but she was accepting. I told my dad a few weeks later after a debate tournament on Halloween. He immediately hugged me and told me there was no reason for me to worry about his love for me. My grandmother echoed the same to me. I came out publicly on facebook right before a therapists appointment. I turned off my phone so that I could have a productive appointment and realized afterwards that there was nothing to worry about.
My family accepted me. My community accepted me. My friends accepted me. I was accepted. And that is all I could ask for.