Being in the closet is a lot like standing alone, holding a grenade with the pin pulled out and staring nervously at it, waiting for it to explode.
I tend to fall under the belief that everyone who is gay is much happier once they come out. After all, there’s a whole “It gets better” Campaign and a tear inducing Google ad to prove it. Recently I watched a Youtube video where two gentlemen who tape themselves talking about science and how amazing it is decided to come out to the internet, not only as gay but as a couple. This was inspiring enough for me to do something similar here, even if I only talk about M&M’s and ill behaved dogs, which are not nearly as cool as science.
Back in 2007 I was a freshly colleged 19 year old who was struggling. My family is pretty religious. Not in the “We go to mass every Wednesday” kind of way. But more in the “Gay people are so obnoxious and we only go to church when someone makes us feel guilty about not going” sort of way. My grandmother often remarked at the television when she saw something involving gay rights with an “Oh, what do they want now?” This had led me to be quite closeted. Like, deep in the heart of Narnia, closeted.
I was even dating a girl, my high school sweetheart. I had come out to one friend as Bi, sighting the fact I simply had to tell someone how in love with singer Jesse McCartney I was at the time. He was all the rage then. One night, I finally decided it was time for the little grenade in my hand to explode. I told my girlfriend that I was gay, effectively ending our relationship, and then awoke my mother at 1AM to tell her the same. For some frame of reference, this was the day before Valentine’s Day. So my timing was excellent. (Insert Sarcastic tone here.)
As you can imagine, my mother did not take the news well. She got out of bed screaming and shouting that she had not raised me this way and asking the heavens what she did wrong. I remember two moments very clearly in the chaos of that night. One was that my mother, in her infinitesimal rage, had decided to put on a Stargate: SG1 marathon to help soothe her temper. The other was when she asked me what she had done to make me this way.
When I was eight years old, my mother and grandmother had decided to make a dress for a very good friend of mine. Her body type was very similar to mine so they suggested I wear the dress in order to help them finish sizing it. I had argued and fought and cried but at long last, as parents tend to do, they ended up winning and I was forced to wear the dress. I stood there, all gowned up as they took measurements and made adjustments. When my mother, eleven years later, asked where she had gone wrong, I brought up this particular moment in a grand gesture of ass hattery. My mother promptly threw a large medical journal at my head.
After that night, things seemed to lighten up. My mother and I continued to have conflict over the issue but my friends took the news very openly. After all, most of my friends had at least known in some capacity that I was gay. I had never flown a rainbow flag in my locker but there had been hints. The great thing about friends is that they usually will accept you for who you are and most of my friends were girls anyway so it just wasn’t a big deal.
My mother, in the mean time, went through the stages of gay son grief.
2) Question God angrily
4) Question every sleepover she ever let you go to
5) Ask how you know you are (Even though she doesn’t really want the answer)
6) Meet boyfriend
8) Tell you boyfriend is too ‘gay’ for you.
9) Start to point at random men on street and ask “Is he?”
10) Call’s your boyfriend your ‘friend’
11) Acceptance, kinda sorta kinda
Coming out feels a little bit like dying. Or maybe a bit more like suicide bombing. You fly headlong into a place you know you don’t want to go and it is terrifying and you have to tell yourself that it will be okay, even though it doesn’t really make you feel better. You count to three and then don’t do it because you didn’t know whether to go ON three or after. You start sentences where you mean for it to come out. “Hey Mom,” but when she looks up, you chicken out. “Oh nothing.” You take a deep breath and hope it will come out next time.
Here’s the thing about your straight life though. The second your straight self dies, Your gay life begins. Everything changes, and nothing changes. You get to be yourself. You get to date people that have the parts you like the most. You get to not be so ashamed of yourself because you suddenly realize there was nothing to be ashamed of in the first place.
Maybe my coming out story isn’t the Earth Shattering drama that others go through but to me it is still important. It’s the day that I stopped being who everyone expected me to be and started being who I really was: A sarcastic, penguin loving, bee fleeing, M&M eating, neurotic writer, who just so happens to be gay.
***This blog was done as part of a weekly writing prompt I participate in with Carl Li and others. You should check out his work here!