It’s only fitting on this National Coming Out Day that I share my coming out story with my 5 wonderful readers. (Ok, 6…) The first person I — or any gay person for that matter — has to come out to is himself. But people pretend that we only have to “come out” one time. No. For me, at least, it was a series of painstaking conversations that continued on and off for two years. Hell, I’m still having conversations about who I am with people. That’s ok, though. I’m going to share a few different stories, all with different reactions. Part one — about my friends from “home” — can be found in a previous post. But next up…
PART TWO: FRIENDS FROM SCHOOL
I knew exactly one person at the University of Florida when I arrived for my junior year. So UF seemed to be a perfect “coming out” deadline for me. I made an agreement with myself: I would be myself from the start. And I’m proud to say that’s what I did.
For those of you who don’t know, I majored in telecommunication at UF. Basically, it’s broadcast news. If you’ve ever been around journalists, you know we’re a questioning bunch. And if you’ve ever been around TV journalists (or even radio, to an extent), we tend to be a loud and direct questioning bunch. Most of us have outgoing personalities and will talk about anything to anyone. But I didn’t know anyone in my classes and wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I was scared. It was my first time away from home for more than a week. But meeting people in college is inevitable. And wonderfully fun.
In my first class, we had a smaller writing lab that we had to go two about twice a week. In it, was this confident go-getter of a girl. She annoyed me a bit, at first. She seemed to think she knew it all. But she was eager to learn and so was I. We both ended up working at the college TV station.
I don’t think school had been in session for more than a week, when this girl and I both ended up on the elevator together. Just us. We hadn’t had anything more than casual conversation. She looks at me and asks…
“Are you gay?”
“Cool. Me too.”
The quotes may be a bit off, but you get the point. It was the first time I was faced with “the big question” and I answered it honestly. It was scary. It was exhilarating. Most of all, though, it was liberating.
That’s honestly the first time I remember having to come out at school. And it’s the last time, too. From then on, I was just myself. I think that’s why I don’t remember answering “the big question” ever again — because it was nothing to me. It had become a part of me. It wasn’t some tumor I was carrying around. It wasn’t that extra piece of luggage you shouldn’t have brought with you on vacation. It was who I am.
Not everyone has such a great college experience regarding their sexuality. It’s unfortunate and it needs to change. But I am so grateful that I said “yes” to that stubborn, eager girl I now call a close friend.
And I’m grateful I pressed on at UF and met so many people that would change my life for the better and be some of the best friends anyone could ask for. Once again, I find the word “friends” and “family” are indistinguishable.