Today is National Coming Out Day.
Oddly enough, my mind has been on the subject of coming out a lot lately. One of the ways I’ve had of occupying my alone time here in
I came out in 1995, when I was 16 years old. Early in the year, I confided my attraction to members of the same sex to my good friend Emily during our free period, because I just couldn’t bear to keep it a secret any longer. She kept my secret for me and was the first positive influence I had in regards to my sexuality. Later that summer, I came out to the rest of the world. While at Interlochen, I met a fellow camper who I had a crush on. When I realized that he was openly gay, I found the courage to come out fully myself.
When I arrived back at school in the fall, I found that it had actually earned me a bit of respect, much to my surprise. I think it was a combination of being lucky enough to be in a liberally minded environment where bigotry of any kind was not tolerated and the newfound confidence and happiness I found in just being honest about myself. The friends that I made and became close with that year have become like extended family to me. It was the first time that I had a group of friends in my life, actually.
When I was in college, I worked up the courage to come out to my parents, which was not the most pleasant experience. They had a really hard time with it – they mostly felt betrayed and lied to, I think. I think it hurt them deeply that they were among the last people to find out. The night I came out to them was one of the scariest I’ve ever had to endure, but even then, I had those same friends out in the car, waiting in the sub-zero weather to make sure that I was ok. I wasn’t ok that night, and they took me back to my apartment after the fighting with my parents became too much to bear, and they tried to comfort me and support me in my time of need. I’ll never forget my friend
Over time, my relationship with my parents has improved, and while it is still an awkward subject for us, I am able to communicate with them honestly, allowing us to have any sort of relationship at all – one that heals and grows each day.
Thinking back on coming out, I realize it is a process that is never fully finished. I will continue coming out to various people everyday for the rest of my life – there are always situations I encounter where I wonder if people know. It takes courage, and I am shocked when I realize that sometimes I am still afraid. Then I think back on those earlier years, and I see that there has always been someone there for me to support me, hold my hand, and to tell me it’s ok. I hope and wish that other people are able realize the same thing as they struggle with their journey out of the closet.