Coming Out As A Gay Man To The Folks

December 10, 2013
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If you’re LGBT or any other letter that’s added on to be inclusive you probably have a “Coming Out” story. I had an interesting time coming out. It was over a multi year period, from senior of high school until just after I graduated college.

I identified as bisexual for all of college until I realized I was kidding myself and I hadn’t pursued women for a couple of years and I had no interest in doing so. Once I did that I decided to tell my mom, stepdad and sister. I figured the weekend I went home for my 22nd birthday would be the perfect time. I got home and it was all hugs and kisses as I knew it would be. My parents talked to me about a play they had seen about a professional baseball player coming out and the fallout of that decision. They also gave me card says “We love you just the way you are.” I felt as if the universe was telling me this was time to tell them.

coming out

So we’re now all sitting on the couches in the living room in silence for what felt like hours. In reality it was probably only 5 minutes. The words were in my mouth ready to spoken but the act of actually saying them was terrifying to me. I finally worked up the courage to say, “Guys, I’m gay.” Immediately, my stepdad says “Doesn’t matter, we love you no matter what.” Sweet relief! My fears of rejection were thankfully not coming true. As we start discussing what I had just said my mom chimes in with “What are you guys talking about?” ACK! I just worked up all this courage and you weren’t even paying attention.

My stepdad, mom and I all start arguing. My mom claimed she didn’t hear what I had said. She also knows how much I hate having to repeat myself to her. How the tables have turned. All of a sudden my sister screams, “Jimmy’s a lesbian!” Quiet falls upon the house. My mom looks at me and asks “Really?” with concern in her eyes. I tell her, yes. She gets really quiet. My mom and I are very close and now there is an awkward silence between us the size of the Grand Canyon. “Are you ok?” I ask. “I’m fine. I’m just tired,” she responds. “You can use that excuse to be non-emotional because that’s my excuse,” I reply. She then tells me it’s something that she’s basically known almost my whole life but it will still take some time to get used. That took about a day. She’s now a fierce ally and advocate.

I lova ya, Mom!

Being a child of a broken home with parents who do not speak with each other, I had to come out twice to my family. My dad and I have an interesting relationship. There’s always been some tension there. He wanted me to play sports and be in boy scouts. I quit little league and the scouts. I never thought that my father didn’t love me; just I thought I wasn’t the son he wanted. I was in choir and I did theatre. It was my stepbrothers who were the sporty ones, into football, wrestling and baseball. They also got to live with him while I was 3 hours away in another state. The only thing my father and I connected on was technology. Terror gripped me at the mere thought of coming out to him. The fear of being rejected by my father was many times greater than that for my mother.

coming out story

I waited until my 23rd birthday to tell him. My sister and I went to our dad’s house. I was a ball of nerves. I intended to use my sister as a floatation device, someone to keep me afloat so I didn’t drown in fear. I put it off and put it off and put it off some more until the next thing I know, my sister has to go home because she had work the next day. I had lost my help! What was going to do now? How was I going to get this out?

As I sit on the back deck contemplating my next move my stepmom comes out and sits down next to me and says “When are you going to tell him?” “Tell him what?” I responded, knowing full well what she was talking about. She shot me a knowing look. I then told her I was planning on telling him that day. “ROBERT!” she yelled in her loudest and shrillest Long Island voice. My dad came out onto the deck muttering that we had dinner reservations and we had to get going. “Shut up, Robert. Jimmy has something to tell you,” she snapped back.

My stomach was somewhere other than where it should have been. I gulped and uttered the words that I thought would change everything. “Dad, (pause) I’m gay.” “Ok, well that’s your decision,” he replied. “No, no. That’s not how it works. It’s not a choice. Believe me, I’ve tried.” I said, momentarily standing on my soapbox. “Ok, well I don’t understand it. Let’s go we’re going to be late.” was his response.

Shattered, that’s the word I would use to describe myself at that moment. I immediately went up into my head as we walked to the car to go to dinner. The whole car ride I was thinking how I could make my escape back to the city and forget about this day. To make matters worse, it came out that I had told my mother first and a whole year before. I felt as if my worst fears were coming true. We get to the restaurant and as we’re about to walk in my dad pulls me aside and tells me “Look Jimmy, you’re my son and I love you. That’s never going to change.” We hugged and I finally felt relief, a lightness and a freedom from a secret I had kept for years. Since then my father and I have gotten increasingly closer.

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