I’m gay, two of the hardest words I ever had to say. I’m gay, two of the most liberating words I ever had to say. I know they say everything comes in its own time but I can’t believe it ever took me so long to say those two words, “I’m Gay.”
I know now the reason I had such a hard BHH time saying them was because I had such a low self esteem. Part of that was because of my environment but the fact that I was gay also played a very large part in it.
It is such a sad way to grow up thinking that your sexual orientation can make you less of a person. It took me a long time to know it didn't. I also believe it probably makes you a better person. For no other reason than it probably teaches you to be a kinder, gentler, and a more empathetic human being as a result of not feeling that you belong. Being gay and not accepting who I was brought me so much unnecessary heartbreak.
The funny thing is that despite my not being able to say those two words I used to walk around thinking that everyone knew. It was like I had those two words written on my forehead in Big Black Bold letters, I’m Gay. So why hide it? Kind of like the book, The Scarlet Letter.
When I was finally able to say I’m gay I immediately noticed changes in myself. My self confidence grew in bounds. I don’t think I necessarily quite accepted myself yet but the fact that I was not hiding who I was felt exhilarating. It is so tiring to constantly be pretending to be someone you're not.
Hiding that small part of who I was felt like a full time job. It was exhausting hiding it from my family, my friends, my co-workers. Always having stories ready of what I did over the weekend, where I went, who with. Always being vague. Having to remember what I said and to whom. Always answering the question, are you dating anyone with, oh, no one in particular. Always being able to turn a conversation around to a safe topic and away from myself.
Talk about discounting your own life. I was a pro. Although I love being gay, back then I thought that was all I was and when your young and afraid of who you are that can be awful. It took me until I was, “out,” to realize I was so much more than that. When I finally was ready to be my gay self I wished there was somewhere I could go where no one knew me because I told so many many half truths about my life and I could start off fresh.
I don’t know if it was worse being in the closet completely or just half way out. When I was all the way in it was almost easier hiding from everyone. When I started to become friends with some people who I let into my secret little world, I had to make sure they understood my situation. If my in the know friends met my out of the know friends they had to be ready with answers if anyone started to probe. I am lucky they considered me a good person and played the game with me.
You can see why saying those two words is so liberating. To be able to live the truth is so much easier. The more I said it and the more people I told the better I felt. Of course, there might have been a few awkward moments but I cannot remember any. Even walking down the streets by myself I felt taller and prouder. I had nothing to hide. I could simply be myself. Often it felt like I was putting on a pair of glasses for the first time. The world appeared sunnier, brighter, fresher and everything seemed so much clearer. My brain even felt less foggy. It could think of other things besides what if someone sees me, what if someone asks me, what if, what if, what if… Now I was thinking about possibilities, the future, what I wanted.
Funnily enough I had always been myself, I had just been in hiding, charading as a straight boy. What a feeling of freedom not to care what people thought. To be honest I am sure most people never spent that much time thinking of me anyway. I am the one who was consumed with thinking of me. I had so much more time not having to think of me and what people thought of me.
People also noticed the new me. They would tell me I looked happier, less worried, younger, more relaxed. I did not tell them why I thought it was, but in fact it felt like a 50 pound weight had been lifted off me. I was living in one world now, not two. My worlds had merged. A few years ago in London I was lucky enough to have dinner with three of my closest friends from different periods of my life who had never met each other. It was so much fun for me as they had all heard me talk of the others. The greatest thing about dinner though was that they all knew my truth now. I had nothing to hide. I was just me. Not to sound over the top but it was quite emotional for me.
Aaron and I both came out differently, but it has been a wonderful experience for us. One of the best things about it has been our Blog. We love sharing our lives, our experiences, what we have learned and our mistakes with other people. For both of us being in the closest was very lonely at times. Neither one of us would dream of telling people how to live their lives, but if one person feels they are not alone and have company when they read our stories we would be pleased.