“Mom! Dad! I have something to tell you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me!” How wonderful would a conversation like that be! What if we lived in a world where there was no such thing as “different”? October is one of my favorite months. It’s my birthday month. I have a twin so I figured since I don’t have my own day, I get to celebrate the entire month. It’s also Halloween, the holiday where it’s completely ok to not be yourself and eat as much junk as you want. More importantly, it’s National Coming Out Month, a time when members of the LGBTQ+ community can reflect and share our stories of how we were, in a sense, reborn to the world.
I have to admit, as a young gay man, I’ve always had an issue with the idea of “coming out”. I have two brothers who both identify as straight. As mentioned earlier, one of them is my twin. We have shared many things throughout life including almost 32 birthdays, some graduations, and so many articles of clothing that I have borrowed that he is never getting back.
But one thing that we have never shared is a common sexuality. It’s one of the many things that made us different from each other. It made me different not only from him, but from my older brother, and the majority of men in the world.
I hated being different. It brought up feelings of insecurity, often questioning, “What is wrong with me?” So I pretended to be straight. I dated girls and made myself enjoy things that I thought would make me look “straight”. I wasn’t happy. I was living a lie. Pressure to come out gave me such anxiety. I felt like I had to come out even if I didn’t want to. In my mind, it was some sort of rite of passage. The fear that I developed contributed to the unhappiness that I was accustomed to. Fear of not being loved or accepted, fear of being pushed away or judged, fear of becoming a label. To be honest, a lot of those fears still exist as an out man.
I came out to both of my parents as an adult. My twin had already secretly told my mom about my sexuality. I decided to come clean on a family trip to Disney World a few years ago. Nothing like having margaritas in Epcot to give you the extra courage to talk to your mom about your gay love life!
She admitted that it was hard to hear but she was overall accepting. She said, “as a parent, we have certain expectations for our children. I will just have to change mine”.
As rough as it may seem, she said it from a place of sincerity. It’s still kind of the elephant in the room.
My dad found out around May of this year when he read it on my counseling website. He said, “I was waiting for you to tell me”. Then he expressed how upset he was that I had waited so long. The fear definitely contributed to my prolonged coming out but ultimately, I waited because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t accepted the fact that I was different, and that there was nothing wrong with it. If there was only one color in the world, there would be no rainbow!
To my friends who may not have come out yet. Take your time. Try to ignore the pressure that you may feel from society or other members of the community. This is your life. Come out when you are ready if you choose to. Seek mental health help to deal with any anxiety, depression, or fear that you may have. Coming out isn’t always easy for everyone. Utilize counselors like myself and others who specialize in LGBTQ+ needs. For my “out” brothers and sisters, let us reflect on our journeys that got us to where we are. Let’s be honest with those who walk in our footsteps. Talk to them about both the successes and struggles of coming out. Finally, to all of my straight brothers and sisters reading this article, we need you to continue to be the positive support that you have been as advocates. Coming out isn’t a transformation, but rather it’s a transition. Continue to love us, protect us, and lead the way for future generations so that one day the fear and anxiety that is associated with coming out is only something of the past.