Note: This is the first in a series of postings giving members of the LGBT community and allies/supporters the opportunity to share their stories. Share yours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hometown: Beeville, Texas
About 6 months after coming out, I felt an urge to share my coming out experience with my friends and family. I, being the Facebook addict that I am, wrote a note on my profile viewable by everyone. I have pasted the original note – typos included – below.
This is the story of my coming out, which happened a little less than a year ago. The experience I describe below has only become truer and more fantastic as time has worn on.
I hope you’ll share your story, too.
I swore to myself I would never write “this,” with “this” being the stereotypical “I’m gay” note on Facebook.
But I feel like I have to write it. It’s not to get my sob story out there, nor to declare my homosexuality to the world. As I’m sure all (or most) of you know by now, I’m gay. I am writing this note not to tell you this, but to thank you.
I grew up always assuming that my homosexuality would never be accepted. I heard gay slurs everywhere and took them to heart. When I was on soccer and football teams, “Smear the Queer” was everyone’s favorite activity while waiting for practice to start. “That’s so gay” was a ubiquitous term used to describe anything unfavorable, and a faggot was anyone who did something outside of the socially acceptable norm. Movies were full of the ultra-cool celebrities saying things like this, and so were the hallways and MSN chat boxes during my time in junior high and high school. Conversations at the dinner table, in car rides, in line for the movies, in the school cafeteria – conversations everywhere were full of thoughts and opinions that convinced me that homosexuality would never be accepted. Even I used terms like this – I wanted to be normal, and homosexuality was not normal.
The hardest times for me were in junior high and high school. I grew up in a small town and had basically no exposure to anything gay. The puberty videos in middle school were supposed to explain the changes that we were all going through, but, for some reason, they didn’t seem to be explaining the changes I was going through. Sex education in junior high firmly established that girls and guys sometimes have sex, but that you shouldn’t do it before you’re married (but if you do – which you shouldn’t – use a condom). In 6th grade, people in my grade started dating and I started hearing of people kissing, making out, holding hands, etc (and in Beeville – where one girl was pregnant in 6th grade, “etc” is a big “etc”). Why didn’t this appeal to me? Why wasn’t I as enthusiastic as the rest of my friends when it came to girls and dating? I always knew I was different, but I didn’t know why. I was lost in a world where homosexuality simply didn’t exist, and I thought I was alone in it.
Living like this – alone, scared, and confused – was miserable. As I (very slowly) came to realize that I was gay, I began to distance myself from everyone I knew. If I was detached, I couldn’t be hurt. If I was emotionless, no one would ever know that I was gay. If I was empty, I could live a normal life. In 8th grade, I made a deal with myself. I told myself that I would never admit that I was gay, and that I would never act on my homosexuality. I would pursue my academic and professional ambitions (I was quite ambitious) and try to lead a normal life for as long as I could. When things got too lonely, when I simply could not detach my feelings from my life any longer, I would completely and permanently detach myself from everything, both physically and mentally
I lived like this for 7 years, and was miserable. Every moment was the one in which I could make a mistake and out myself. Every second of everyday my one goal was to suppress myself, to ensure that my true nature – that my true spirit – would never be seen by anybody. Regardless of how close I was to any person, I felt like I was miles from them. It was impossible for me to form a true relationship with anybody when my chief concern was keeping the most basic thing about me from the world. I could never be truly happy because I could never truly be myself. I was in constant pain; everytime I saw a friend who was happy, I tried to be happy for them but couldn’t. Seeing people with their boyfriends and girlfriends was like having a knife stuck into my chest; they represented the life that I knew I could never have. I could never naturally love someone of the opposite sex, and society would not allow me to love someone of the same sex.
I lost 20 years of my life living like that. Thankfully, in my second year at Columbia, the loneliness was too overbearing. The first weekend after moving back to Columbia, I said – out loud, for the first time in my life – that I was gay. Though the process of coming out of the closet was hard and it took me a full year to finally come out to everyone, it was worth it. Not a single one of my fears was realized; nobody called me a faggot, nobody ended our relationship, and nobody tried to read the Bible to me. The reaction was, in fact, opposite. As I came out to my family and friends, I experienced nothing but love and support. In the past months, my relationships have grown, and I – finally – am starting to experience the basic happiness that I had never experienced before.
The reason I wanted to write this monster of a note was to both thank you all for being there for me, but also to say how very sorry I am for having misjudged you. It took me so long to reveal my true self to you because I allowed the bigotry and stupidity of so many to obscure my perception of those around me. I am sorry for not trusting you, for forgetting how much you care about me.
I do want to say, though, that the reason I never came out – apart from my own cowardice – was a fear of affecting those around me, of losing those who had made life bearable in such a miserable time. I should have known, however, that I wouldn’t have lost you once you found out about me; for this ignorance, I am incredibly, incredibly sorry.
By telling you, I have only become happier. Ffor that, I would like to thank you.
This is my story of coming out, but we're looking for your story, whatever it may be about. Specifically, we'd like to hear stories of how you've been treated unequally by the law. While we are equal, the law does not treat us as so.