In honor of National Coming Out Day, I have decided to reflect on my coming out story. It seems that enough time has passed, 4 years, that I can look back and try to interpret the events that surround my declaration, my acceptance of myself, as a gay man.
My actual date is October 13, 2003. I had been in a long, straight marriage, left the marriage in September of that year. I had been in a long depression, suffering from an eating disorder, and had finally found the courage to leave the marriage that was not only beyond repair, but perhaps not right in the first place. In those five or six weeks since I had left the house, I would return early in the morning to help with the kids. I would show up just in time for my wife to leave for work. There were a few tense moments, but in general the transition went smoothly, and I had the opportunity to visit with my children.
The morning of October 13th was to be no different, but this time, my wife had a few questions for me, Then a confrontational statement designed to provoke. She mentioned that “even the Pastor thinks you’re gay.” I think I had hit a point in life where I was just so tired of hiding that I admitted to her that I am gay, stumbled through some kind of “I never meant to hurt you” statement, then I went into shock. In the coming weeks, the wife, now my ex-wife, would do everything she could to hurt me, get me fired, discredit me in the community, and guilt me into doing things I should not have done.
There is a minor detail in the story that I have missed. That is until today. I always felt like I didn’t own my coming out story because my ex-wife got to tell it. I’ve often told my story as the unwilling participant, being outted by a vengeful ex. She got to question and confront, I stumbled through an admission, she told everyone she could, and I, like a coward, out myself to a handful of key people. The detail I overlooked is this: I am the one who grew weary of hiding and answered frankly her question about my orientation. I did have control, at least of that first step of coming out and repairing my life. As far as whom she told, no, there was nothing I could control there.
There were some other people that I came out to that day; an online friend, my pastor, my therapist, and a close friend from church. There would be more in the coming weeks, and as I discovered, all of them were supportive of me, of people claiming their orientation, and living a full and healthy life. There were also many other people that had heard about me through gossip, and one woman who at least had the balls to come and ask me directly after she had heard the rumors.
So now, 4 years later, I can see how my coming out is my own story, and I’m not the victim. I’m the hero. I had control that morning. I could have lied again. I didn’t; I stepped forward and proclaimed who I truly am. Life has been so much sweeter because of that.
These are our stories, our heritage, for our families, whether biological, blended or created. I’m glad I can tell mine, and doubly glad that I can finally claim it as my own.