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. I’ll start with the first people I came out to…
PART ONE: FRIENDS FROM “HOME”
In 2006, I was in college and still living at home. And I was coming to terms with who I was. In high school, a best friend once asked if I was gay. It was 10th grade. I thought she was crazy and I was offended. But it made me think…
I had liked girls in high school, and I didn’t recall liking guys in the same way…I thought I was just curious. I thought, “Hey, I’m sure plenty of other guys are curious, too. They’re just too scared to admit it.” Maybe that’s true. But I quickly realized my attraction to guys wasn’t a simple curiosity. It was my reality.
So I decided to tell my best friend. I met up with her and we talked, but I just couldn’t say it. I couldn’t speak the words. This was my best friend. I trusted her and knew she would accept me, maybe even love me more because I was finally being honest with myself and with her. (And we could go shopping together…) The next day, I tried again. We settled on Chinese takeout and beer at her place. I don’t know how long it took, but she knew what I was going to say. I told her. I don’t remember her exact response, but it was something like, “FINALLY! YAY!” Since then, our friendship has grown stronger. She’s family. Her family is my family. Her mom is like my second mom. And her dad’s response to my coming out was hilarious:
“Tell him he didn’t hide it very well.”
What can I say — I know how to pick friends.
Shortly after (probably the next day), I contacted another friend friend and said we needed to talk. This was another best friend, but a strong conservative Christian. I admired her, but knew we had our differences. Variety is the spice of life, right? But this day was horrible. For both of us.
We met at Starbucks. Once again, who knows how long it took, but I told her. She thought I was kidding and laughed. I told her it wasn’t a joke. Her hands went to her face. To say she was shocked wouldn’t do the emotion justice. To say she started to cry would be an understatement. At a time when I felt like I was pleading for comfort, I was suddenly scrambling to provide it.
“It’s ok, it’s ok…it’s not like I’m dying or something,” I remember saying.
After a few minutes of this, and a lot of questions, we left. She didn’t know it at the time, but I followed her to make sure she would make it home safely.
She didn’t call, she didn’t text, she didn’t see me for a week. She said she had to sort things out. She had to tell other people she trusted to help her work it out. She told me that I’d broken her heart. We were never romantic in the slightest, but this crushed her. She told me she “loved the sinner, but hated the sin.” I explained that this wasn’t something she was going through. This was my deal. We would both need to do what we thought was best for ourselves. But I understood where she was coming from. After all, I was raised just like she was. I was supposed to be the perfect Southern Baptist kid.
We’re still friends and I’d help her in any way I could. We get along, we laugh, we talk. I value her friendship. But that day at Starbucks forever changed it.