Sharing Your Coming Out Story Can Help You And Others.
Our coming out stories often bonds many of us in the gay community together. How many times are you asked, “So, how old were you when you came out?” or “Was your family pretty accepting when you came out?” I know I’ve been asked those questions before and asked them to others myself. Why? Well, I believe saying the words, “I’m gay” is a tremendous moment in our lives and the journey we all take to say them out loud is incredibly significant. For those of you reading this article that have come out, I celebrate you today and the steps you had to work through and the challenges you had to overcome. You should be proud of the person you are today. For those of you that are struggling with your sexuality – I want you to know, so many of us wish we could take all those worries away, and knock down the hurdles you are dealing with day in and day out. I honor your journey right now as well. It is not easy, and whatever you are going through will pass because life’s most difficult moments have a way about teaching us our greatest life lessons.
Like many of you, the months leading up to my coming out were not easy. As “obvious” as my sexuality was for others, it was not something I was eager to admit right away. All the signs were there during my early college days. Yes, even the stereotypical ones that made me stand out. I loved Madonna, had a subscription to the Oprah Magazine and spent any extra money I had at the hair salon. I was attending Arizona State University, working full time, and living in my first apartment. It was the greatest of times and secretly some of the hardest. My friends in college did their best not to put a label on me and kept their opinions about my sexuality to themselves. Their genuine friendship was gold. My family was never a worry either. My uncle had come out years before, which helped make my path a little bit easier. He had even brought a boyfriend to Christmas Eve one year, which I remember thinking was the coolest thing in the whole world. Through it all, I knew I needed and wanted to come out on my terms. That was always very important to me. Perhaps it had to do with being called “gay” and “fag” growing up or for the simple fact that I was just not ready.
The summer before I came out was a mix bag of emotions. I was living in Sea Isle City, New Jersey with my cousins doing my best to figure life out while having a little fun at the same time. I even slept with a couple girls and tried to deflect my real feelings to the side. However, I would escape (with my fake i.d. in hand) to Atlantic City and clubs like the “Limelight” in New York City to go dancing. The gay clubs were a whole other universe and symbolized a place where I could just be me and not worry about being judged. The music was incredible and I always felt really good about myself when I was there. Everyone just wanted to dance the night away – I was in heaven!
Later that year, I had woken up one morning and just knew that it was going to be “the day.” Yes, my coming out day. I still remember what I was wearing, where I was sitting with my mom in the restaurant, but most importantly how I felt when I drove away. It was like the biggest weight was lifted off my shoulders that I had been carrying around for years and years. I could not believe I had finally said the words, “I’m gay.”
There is no coming out of the closet handbook or specific rules, and nor should there be one. But, I encourage all of you to share your own story. Celebrate your journey, reflect on the good times and the challenging times. You never know, you might just inspire someone. Our world certainly needs a little inspiration right now.