I HAVE SOMETHING I’VE BEEN MEANING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT…
Earlier this week, I came out to my stepmom, which means I’ve pretty much checked everyone off my list now. Thus ends what was possibly the clumsiest coming out process gayhumankind has ever known, and definitely the biggest anticlimax of my personal life.
I remember exactly where I was when I finally admitted to myself that I was gay. I was 20 and walking on the boardwalk in Asbury Park on my lunch break from a summer job transcribing historical documents. (It was further down that same boardwalk that I had decided, earlier that summer, that I should major in sociology. That boardwalk was quite the place for making big life decisions, I guess.) I don’t remember what came before my admission, what provoked me into finally telling myself, “Yeah, I’m totally gay”, but I remember very clearly what my next thought was: “… and I’m going to be okay.”
Just saying the words in my head made me feel infinitely better. I’d just confronted my most intimidating critic. I’d revealed my big secret to myself, and to my great relief, I was extremely supportive of me.
But the thought of telling other people still terrified me. It was several years before I told anyone, and at first, the only people who knew were the ones who figured it out and asked me about it. It wasn’t like I could just send out a memo or gather everyone I knew and make a big announcement. Coming out to people would mean having awkward conversations, uttering the same words over and over again for everyone I cared about…
“Well… um… uh… you see… heh, heh… er…”
But I did it. Sure, lots of people found out through someone else or through some half-assed way, but the ones that’ll stick out were the ones who didn’t know it was coming, the ones who, at some point, I’d decided needed to know, now, even if I had to do it the hard way. Chris, Adam, Dave, my sister, Chuck, Eric, my mother, Nick, Greg, my stepmom.
In the three and a half weeks since I came out to him (and then he came out to me), Greg has amazed me with his own coming out process. He told his mother and sister a week later. And last weekend, his friends were taking him out for his birthday, and he was going to announce it to all of them at once. Everyone has a different process, and I really admire Greg, whose courage even helped me place the call to my stepmom the other day.
But the main reason I was ready to end my days in the closet, of course, is Drew. The Big Move is a big step for me, something very new and exciting and overwhelming. It’s not just that I didn’t want to lie to everyone about why my address and phone number were changing. I wanted them to know that this was a huge, fantastic change in my life. When you’re happy, you want to share that with the people you care about. And finally reaching the end of my coming out list helped me realize why it took me so long to get through it in the first place.
Coming out wasn’t just about telling people that I’m gay. In the end, it was also being able to say, “And I’m okay.”