11 October 2008

I'm Coming Out!

Today is the twentieth anniversary of National Coming Out Day, and I wanted to share my coming out story with y'all.

I wish I could say that I came out on the 11th of October, but alas I did not. Coming out is an ongoing process; even now I continue to come out to friends and family, and it’s a pretty difficult thing to do even though I’ve done it before. I encourage people to do so because it is in living a free, open, and honest life that you will find true happiness.

I came out two years after my dad passed away and shortly after my favorite great aunt passed away. They were the two people I’ve always wanted to share that part of me about, and I always thought that they would be the first to know when I was ready. I unfortunately did not get my chance and that was really what led the way out of the closet for me.

Actually, it was pretty lame how I first told friends and family. The first person I came out to was my cousin, Michael. I logged onto my AOL Instant Messenger account and scrolled through my buddy list trying to find him. I immediately sent him a message saying “I need to talk to you,” he responded right back saying “just tell me now.” I paused for a good, long moment before finally getting the courage to type out an “I” on the keyboard.

Biting the bullet, I finally spelled out "I'm gay" and waited anxiously for a response. I was freaking the heck out! Several thoughts flooded my mind. I desperately hoped he would still love me and not treat me any differently than before. After what seemed like hours of waiting, when it was actually a second or two later, I received a simple “okay.” Damn you, Manoy Michael, for giving me such a heart attack that day!

The fear slowly subsiding, I got the courage to tell my school friends - the first of whom was Jhon. I took the same approach with him - instant messenger. I guess the reason I chose this as my medium was because it gave me relative distance from the other person. I was still pretty hurt from losing my dad and great aunt, and didn’t want to take the risk of losing friends and family. Needless to say, Jhon was accepting and told me he’d help me come out to the rest of our close friends if I wanted to tell them.

The next day at school was interesting to say the least. I edged the conversation along, cryptically hinting to my friends that I needed to discuss something with them. I think they might have thought I was dying or something because of the way I dragged it out. After spilling my heart out all over the concrete floor, I looked up and was immediately bombarded by hugs and words of love and acceptance. What are friends for, right?

Having that safety net to fall back on I decided, after a few days, to tell my Mum and Grams. That was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I was really afraid that she would kick me out of the house, throw things at me, unleash her anger, and rip me limb from limb, or worse - stop loving me.

Hands shaking feverishly, body numb, and lips dry, I sat down with my mum on the couch and had the following conversation:
Elle: Mum? I… um, I’m - I’m gay.”
*cue the tear drops down her face.*
Mum: Duh. Wasn’t I the one who told you at first?
Wow! She knew, and yes, she still loved and continues to love me.

Coming out did change my sense of self; I felt very limited before I came out. I kept myself in check and made sure not to show any signs of impending gayness. I felt very much constricted, so when I finally did come out I happened to unlock the queer pandora's box. I referred to that phase of my life as the flood gate: it was my way of unleashing years of pent up emotions. Eventually I did calm down a significant bit. I didn’t feel the need to put myself out there as much in the sense of showing everyone that I’m here, I’m queer, and fabulous!

Anyway… now I’m the president of my school’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) and everyone I know is extremely accepting, loving, and supportive of me. I’m even getting hit on by a few boys at school which, in my opinion, is just fine and dandy but still relatively new to me.

My message to you all out there is to come out and smell the flowers! The other side of that closet door is a bright, happy future.

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