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Your Coming Out Story

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OK...Tuesday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day in the US.

How about sharing your coming out experiences before and after and just how you did it?

This is the thread I mentioned in today's News & Views column.

You show me yours and I'll show you mine... just don't ask me to be first! :wink:

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How about sharing your coming out experiences before and after and just how you did it?

You show me yours and I'll show you mine... just don't ask me to be first! :wink:

So, I guess I really had three curcial coming out episodes.

The first was when I was sixteen. Me and my (then) best-friend Kate were always hanging out and going to movies-- and because I?m a bit of a flirt naturally, the way I acted she thought I was always flirting with her. Even though I?d said I would never go out with her when someone asked, she?d hug me a lot and try to be quite touchey-feely. I always made my excuses and managed to get out of stickey situations. I?d decided that sooner or later, I was going to have to come out to her, or things were gonna get harder nad harder for me to deal with. She forced my hand though, after one night of getting pretty drunk at her house, she tried to kiss me. I jumped up and said I had to go home and used some lame-ass excuse I?m sure. I ran about a mile home through Cambridge at 11 o?clock-- if you?ve ever been in Cambridge after 10 on a friday night, you know it can get a bit rowdy and if you?re walking alone through one of the parks, there?s a pretty high chance you?ll get mugged or raped or both. But by the time I got home I?d made up my mind. She texted me to see if I was ok, and I texted back saying something stupid like ?I?m sorry, but I have to tell you something. I just need you to promise that you won?t hate me afterwards.? And before I go on, yes, I know that doing it by text is NOT the way you should do it. But I?m a coward and texting it was easier than saying it. She texted me back saying of course, how could she ever hate me? So I told her. ?The reason I?ll never go out with you, is because I?m gay. ok? I like boys. do you hate me now??

She was fine with it. I mean, I knew she would be... but there?s still the whole element of actually saying ?I?m gay? to someone, and that?s a pretty big thing to do. I made her promise she?d never tell anyone, and she kept to it. We?re still good friends, we?ve kept in touch even after moving schools.

The second time I came out to someone in person was to one of my mates Samantha (or Sam for short). It was the monday after I?d met my first boyfriend. Hahaha, we were in a history class, pretending to listen to our teacher talk about the effect of the Blitz in Britian. Instead we were writting tiny notes on a piece of paper. She was trying to set me up with someone-- finally get ?single Joey? a girl. I plucked up my courage and wrote ?I don?t need one. I?ve already got a boyfriend.? When she read the note she laughed really loudly and the whole class looked at her. When she slipped the note back to me it said ?I KNEW IT? in big bold letters. We talked about it later during lunch break and I explained to her that only Kate knew. She?s one of the best mate?s I?ve ever had. Eventually I plucked up the courage to tell the rest of my female friends. The school I was at was a Church of England school, so most of the guys were pretty homophobic. When I moved to a new school (a bunch of my girl friends came to the same school, so we kept our little clique). I was completely out at this new school incidently. People say about 1/4 of the student body was gay too-- and they were right.

At any rate, during this whole time I?d never said a word to my parents. They?d met my frist two boyfriends as ?friends? but had no clue they were anything more. But my luck ran out by the time I was 17 and with my third boyfriend (third time unlucky eh?). We thought we were home alone and my parents wouldn?t be back until late. So we had a shower together and went up to my room and into bed for an innocent cuddle-- all without getting dressed. We?d been in bed maybe five minutes before my dad walked in without knocking. He said ?uhhhh sorry? and walked right out again. We looked at each other and went ?akwaaaaaaaaard? before jumping up, getting dressed and running downstairs. My dad was witting on the sofa reading a paper. I told him I was going over to my friends for the night. He asked when I?d be back and like the rebelious teenager that I am, I told him ?eventually? before grabbing my keys and wallet and we ran out.

He?s still not said anything to me about it, but he did speak to my mom. When I came back after the weekend, my mom came up to my room and sat down on my bed to talk to me. I could tell she knew as soon as she walked in the room. It was fine-- althouhg a big uncomfortable. She said they both accepted me whoever or whatever I felt I was. I emailed her the link to my story later that night as well as saying some things I wished I?d been able to say earlier, but hadn?t. She replied with:

"Dear Josiah,

I sampled this, but it would take a long time to read The Angel and something tells me it should be read serially, chapter by chapter and in doses.

Talking of coming out, are you in or out?

I'll try not to do a Bree-Desperate-Housewife. But if you find me crying over the laundry basket, you'll know why.

I think you should talk to your sister. She has a lot of experience and understanding.

You are still the same Josiah.

love, Mum"

Fortunately they both liked my boyfriend, and we?re still together. I think my dad just feels akward about talking about it, so he just doesnt. Every now and then my mom will ask something or mention something, but pretty much life hasn?t changed. They?re always sure to knock on my door before coming into my room though. And I still haven?t talked to my sister. But she knows. I know she can tell. I just need to pluck up the courage to actually say the words. There?s such a stigma around them still though, and the years at a C of E school only helped to imprint that on me. If someone askes me if I?m gay, I can say right off that I am. But I find it very difficult to say the words myself. It?s gotten much easier. I can say it to friends or people I?m meeting for the first time. But I still don?t have teh courage or self-confidence so say it to a family member.

Wow... that got a LOT longer than I intended it to be. Sorry for making you all read that.

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so we're trading coming out stories...very solid gay tradition. right up there with 'first time' stories.

I grew up in a rather strange environment--my father was an alcoholic, an evangelical christian, and a closet sex addict. There were lots of bibles around, and lots of porn and alcohol. Despite the trappings of religion, it was a very sexualized environment.

I took to religion very early. The church we attended was an evangelical Presbyterian church...another odd combination. I participated in all the youth programs, even delivered a few messages from the pulpit on the Sundays when the services were delivered by the youth program. I wanted to be a pastor myself, for years.

But there was a problem. I knew that underneath and side-by-side with the good little christian boy that I was, there existed this very perverse, evil thing that was attracted to men...primarily older men, at that time. I can remember being about 8 years old and having a crush on some of my sister's high school friends. I prayed every day that this thing would go away, but it never did--it just got stronger, the harder I suppressed it.

So I hid this thing behind a curtain of religion for a lot of years. Finally, after my freshman year of college, it became impossible to hide anymore. This is what happened:

I was participating in a student exchange program immediately after my first year of college. I was slated to go to Finland for a year, and I was wildly excited. I'd never been much of anywhere before, so I was just over the top. I spent the summer before the trip at my Grandparent's home in Colorado, working on a landscape crew and making money for the trip.

When the time came, the plan was that those of us who were in the program and living in CO would all get together and carpool to Chicago, and fly from there to Europe. It happened that one of the other participants was a really nice young man-- very cute, and a bit flirty. So, when we stopped for the evening at the home of a friend of the driver's to spend the night, I waited till lights were out and then I seduced this young man. Which was ok, until just about the time the afterglow faded, and then he screamed the house down and accused me of raping him.

So then I was summarily dismissed from the program. I had enough money in my pocket to pay for an airline ticket to Seattle, where I stayed with my sister for a couple of weeks, and then I had to go home and face the music.

When I told my parents, my mother put on her wise woman's face and told me she'd known all along, and my father said it was ok, he'd had several bisexual encounters as a kid (!), but that it would be a good thing if I went to the pastor for counselling. He turned out to have even less idea what to do than I did, but he did suggest some 'reparative therapy' ala Exodus Ministry. Then he suggested that there was a faith healer coming to the church soon, and maybe that would be helpful.

To make a long story short (or is it too late for that?), I went to the faith healer, got excorcised for a demon of lust, and ended up perving on a cute guy on the street the next day, so I realized at that point that it was a crock, and that was the end of my association with the church. I skipped a semester of school, and went back to school to wrestle with my identity.



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I tell my coming out story in Broken but I'll give you the short version.

My best friend and I were accused of having sex when I was 12. We got thrown out of the scouts in a witch hunt that hurt a lot of innocent people.

After that summer. we got the joy of starting junior high "out" in 1976 Mississippi.

It has been 30 years since that happened and only two of the original five are left.

They were so frantic to "protect the kids" that they didn't mind throwing a few of us to the wolves.

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I have just came out over this past year, it started a year ago October 6th when I came out to my brother. He picked me up from work and we were driving and he was talking about girls, as we drove down my street I told him to keep driving pass our house that I needed to tell him something. I told him I was gay and he took it great just like I thought he would. Then in May I told my Mom. I was scared as anything but knew I needed to. She was shocked, which shocked me. But she was fine with it.

I still couldn't and didn't want to tell me Dad. I had no idea how he would take it, but thought it would be real bad. Shortly after telling my Mom I started dating someone and fell in love with him. We spent the summer together but he had to go home in August which was 12 hours away, we talked about it and I really wanted to move with him by Labor day. I also knew I would have to tell my Dad. So at the end of July I told my dad, and he said he already had guessed, as did my younger brother who I also told that day. I've since moved in with my Boyfriend and I haven't been happier in my life

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My story is a lot less dramatic than the ones above. (And my sympathies to you guys -- Jesus, some of you have the makings of a fairly dramatic novel just in your real-life tales!)

I had been mulling over whether I was gay for several years. I knew I was different as a little kid, but I didn't really have a name for it until I hit adolescence, around 11. By my late teens, I had gone out with a half-dozen girls, but had also fooled around with some male friends in Jr. High and High School. I'd held back from going all the way, just due to fear and uncertainty -- I guess the fear of being found out at school, being ostracized, and so on.

By my early 20s, I had pretty much realized that how I felt wasn't going away. I knew about the gay bars here in LA, and in fact lived in a neighborhood less than three blocks from a whole slew of them, but hadn't had the courage to actually walk into one. Finally in early 1982 -- on Valentine's Day, as a matter of fact -- I saw the movie Making Love with a couple of gay friends. Seeing the movie made something click inside me, and I finally realized I didn't have to change who I was to accept being gay. I know it sounds crazy, but up to that point, I somehow subconciously thought I'd have to act differently if I was gay, like I'd have to turn into some kind of lisping, cross-dressing queen, which is not my thing at all. The main guys in that movie were fairly macho and very attractive, and somehow, that helped get it through my head that all I had to do was to just accept it and let it happen. I immediately felt a huge sense of relief, like a 500-pound weight left my shoulders.

I screwed up my courage and confided in my friends as we left the theater, and one of them whooped out, "I KNEW IT! I WON THE BET!" So they had known all along that I had been struggling with this thing, and helped me through the whole thing over the next few months. I came out a few days later to my brother and sister and a few friends, but I left everybody else on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. My take on it was, I'm not gonna go out of my way to shove my gay identity in somebody's face, but if they ask me, I'm not gonna lie about it, either. I figured being gay was just one facet of me, and wasn't necessarily the core of what and who I was. (And yet at the same time, I can't imagine not being gay; if I had my life to live over again, I'm not sure I'd change that at all, though I have to admit, I think the world is a lot less hostile to straight people.)

Anyway, I met a guy about a year later, another writer (working for a rival magazine), we hit it off, and we hooked up. We're still together after more than 20 years, and that's longer than most straight couples we know. He's far more closeted than I am, but he came from a fairly conservative family up in Canada. And even he's loosened up a little bit over the years.

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