I don’t really have a good post for Coming Out Day, mostly because I have really bad memory, and because when I actually came out, people weren’t surprised, and people didn’t really care. I’m fortunate to be one of the few whose parents and family were supportive and loving. They didn’t disown me, and the only thing they show me every day is how much they care. So even though it’s late, my Coming Out Day post is about being a gay kid trying to come to terms with himself.
I just remember shades of emotions and islands of little memories. I remember being sad a lot, and not being understood. I remember hiding it all behind a big smile and laughter. I remember loving comedy, and jokes, because it can hide the unpleasantness. I remember being drawn to characters that knew how to hide their demons and slapped a smile on their face, because I related. To this day, I escape with video games and laughter, because it’s much easier than talking about something that gives me great pain.
One of the things I remember about being gay while I was a young teen growing up is how scared I was. I grew up in a Catholic household, with supportive parents and siblings who didn’t hate me, but I was still afraid. I was afraid because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I was afraid because I didn’t fit into what everyone thought a boy should be. I was in a school surrounded by guys who were being whatever being a man was, much better than I was.
There were times when my older brothers or classmates would ask why I would run a certain way; or talk a certain way, or why I picked girls in video games, or why I loved the color purple as though it were a condemnation of these things as a boy–and it made me doubt myself. It made me retreat into myself. I decided to write, and to sing, and to express myself in ways that I couldn’t because I had to outwardly present as something else so that I could conform and survive. I know I didn’t do a good job, and I laugh about it now with my family because I can now–but back then, I remember just feeling how…wrong everything was.
I remember calling a friend on the telephone to ask about homework, and his older brother asked if he had a girlfriend. I was THAT shy. I was THAT softspoken, because I didn’t want to rock the boat. And even though I had a wonderful support system, and maybe all I needed to do was tell them, it took me until I was eighteen, and in college, to say anything out loud.
In some ways, I think coming out saved my life.
Now that I’m an adult and out and proud, I have a different set of problems. Being gay in this life is still really difficult, but it’s a whole different ballpark now. I’m thankful to have come out, because I still have the love and support of my family and friends and it shows me that they love me for who I am. But the scars of growing up scared, and afraid, of feeling like I wasn’t man enough, or strong enough–not masculine enough–still remain. Life as a gay person is hard, and it’s lonely…sometimes, I feel like it’s that way even more so than for straight people. But I’m not here to compare wounds or to call my pain worse than other people’s. I’m just here to share my story.
If anything else, I hope these shades of emotions can show other scared, little gay children, teenagers, and adults who are still deep in the closet, that they’re not alone.