As I write this, I saw the movie Love, Simon just hours ago. I could talk about what I liked and didn’t like about the movie, but I don’t want to talk about how good the movie was.
No, I want to talk about how it made me feel.
The movie definitely got me thinking about my own coming out. So I’ll start there.
When I came out to my parents I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect. This seems to be a pretty common worry for LGBTQ+ individuals, but even two years later I don’t know how to deal with the reaction I got. It was just unexpectedly neutral. In fact, my parents were mainly just happy that I had decided to tell them. We didn’t really talk about what I’d been going through for years. Accepting my coming out and moving on was fine in the moment.
The reaction I got is certainly better than what many LGBTQ+ individuals experience. It was actually pretty good compared to some of the coming out stories I’ve heard. But if there is one downside to my coming out, it is that I still don’t feel like I really came out for good.
See, the relief I felt after coming out didn’t last. At first I felt really good; it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But the weight gradually came back as I realized I didn’t feel like I had come out fully. In many ways it still feels like I’m in the closet.
I’ve only told a handful of people that I’m gay. For the most part those people have been understanding. Some were even supportive. But none of them really know what I’m going through.
I wish I could talk to someone. I just feel alone and unheard. Most of my life I’ve done my best to not be a burden, to not take up too much time or energy. But now I realize all I did was keep myself hidden. I’ve done it for so long. I really don’t even know who I am anymore. I try to figure it out but I can’t.
I’m so tired of hiding. But I have no one to talk to. Nobody who can listen to what I’m going through without telling me “it’s okay, you’ll be fine”. I don’t want to be told I’m fine. I want to be acknowledged.
You know, I never got the experiences the movie Love, Simon shows. I never went to high school. I didn’t have supportive friends to be around when I felt down. I never got to choose when, why, or how I would come out. Instead, I came out for the sake of others. Because I thought something was wrong with me.
I may not have had those positive experiences, but I got a lot of the more negative ones. I stayed in the closet for five years after I figured out I was gay. I still have yet to experience my first kiss, a crush that hurts so bad it keeps me up at night, or a touch from someone who makes my heart race at a thousand miles a minute.
Instead I stayed up at night hoping that the next day I would wake up and not be gay anymore. I’m not religious, but I even prayed to God that I would be cured. I mostly asked
“Why has this happened to me?”
I sometimes thought about suicide when I was still fully in the closet. I just wanted to end the hiding, to stop the lies I told my family. I never tried to take my own life out of the fear of what it would do to the people I loved. And I was too scared to do anything anyway.
Going into my second year of being “out”, I realize that a lot of the things I’ve done were for the sake of others. I never even thought about what I needed my own coming out to be like.
I still haven’t given myself what I need in order to heal. I still keep this part of myself hidden. I try not to talk about it too much, hoping to avoid drawing attention to myself.
It is still a struggle just to say “I’m gay”.
I still try not to look at boys as attractive. I try to focus on college or work instead of the increasing loneliness I feel as I am about to turn 20. The loneliness has become soul-crushing. My heart actually feels kind of dead when I feel really down.
I just want to get this off my chest. I don’t want to hide anymore. Why can’t I just let myself be me?
As with many things in life so far, I don’t have all the answers. All I can do is try to heal as best as I can. Maybe sharing this story here will help.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with coming out if you feel comfortable doing so.