I haven’t really talked a lot about my experiences coming out, so I thought I’d start sharing. When I finally came to accept myself for who I truly am after years of denial, depression, and self-hate, I decided that I would slowly start to tell some of those closest to me of my truth. I figured if I’m going to live my adult life the way I want to, I can’t do that by being unauthentic to those I call besties and family. One of the first ones up on my coming out tour was my college bff.
I remember the day I was preparing to tell her my “secret.” At the time, we had both graduated from undergrad and were living some 1400 miles apart. Not preparing a trip any time soon to visit her, and her not having an itinerary to see me, I decided to just call her on the phone to have one of our routine conversations.
After some idle chit chat about the usual (grad school, the TV show of the moment, and rehashing old memories), I told her I had something serious to tell her. Once I changed my tone, my friend became worried. Before I could tell her what was going on, she anxiously began asking “what’s wrong,” and “are you okay,” and “did something happen to you?” I chuckled a bit and told her to wait a minute so I could tell her.
Once the phone grew quiet, I began telling her that for the past few years I had been struggling with who I was. I mentioned that things had gotten so bad, that while I was smiling in everyone’s face like I usually do, I had been suffering from depression. Depression that had gotten so bad, that taking my life was a viable option. Keep in mind that the words “I’m gay” hadn’t left my lips yet.
My sister from another mister started sobbing. For her, she was hurt that I was suffering in silence and hadn’t told her, or anyone about my issue. She was also concerned that I considered suicide. She is extremely protective of those she holds near and dear, and the fact that I didn’t offer her the opportunity to protect me from me when I was in such a dark place, was tough for my buddy to handle.
When she calmed down a bit, I finally disclosed the source of my grief was my inability to accept that I’m gay. I explained how I just couldn’t imagine being gay and Christian. How I didn’t think my friends and family would love me if I loved men. How I didn’t want people treating me differently. And you know her response? She could care less about my sexuality. She reaffirmed her love and support for me. It didn’t matter if I like men, women, or both.
Looking back on the occasion, the most awkward moment of that conversation really was her asking me about the nitty gritty of me liking the same sex. She delicately asked me whether I was pitching or catching. It was extremely weird trying to explain my sexual preference to her. But I get why she asked. I was her first confirmed gay friend, so she just was curious about me and the overall lifestyle. I was just glad she didn’t ask for explicit details. LOL!
Now I share this story for a few reasons. For starters, I want folks to realize that coming out to those closest to you, is a liberating feeling. It feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. You don’t have to pretend you are something or someone that you’re not. At the same time, I get how scary the process can be. You really don’t know how people are going to react to your truth. You hope sharing your news won’t break or tarnish relationships, but not everyone will be like my sister/friend. Some may not get it at first, or may not get it at all. Later in the near future, I’ll write a post about those rough experiences I endured. And trust me I’ve had them. But at the end of the day, what a wise man once said holds true. “What others think about you, is none of your business.” You just allow whoever you tell to work through their thoughts and feelings about your sexuality; and, either realize they love you for you, or loved you for who you thought you were. Trust and know, those that love you unconditionally will eventually rock with you, even if they don’t understand it or have a hard time with it at first.
Also, I share this story because I really don’t want people to suffer in silence. The fact that I allowed my sexual identity issues to boggle me down so much that came face to face with depression and suicide, is a low note for me personally. I may not have had to go through that time in my life if I just reached out and told for example my college bestie. Heck, even a therapist. If you don’t have to struggle alone, then don’t. And this is coming from a very private person. But I’ve learned, sometimes pride will be the very thing that will prevent you from reaching a better you.
Lastly, I want to make it clear that while I still haven’t shared my sexuality news with all those I hold near and dear yet (i.e. my grandmother, aunts, or uncles), I don’t feel imprisoned by my identity anymore. I’ll tell them when the time feels right. But to be honest, as I get older and have not brought a girlfriend around them, I don’t think they will be too shocked when I unveil the news. I’m just happy to be living life for me.
Until next time folks.