Subject: Today, I'm Out
Date: Oct 1994
This has been a long time coming, and I figured that today was probably a
more appropriate day to do this than any other. And as I've been lurking
in this newsgroup for well over a year and a half, I wonder if I'll be
eligible for some kind of Longest Overbaked Muffin award ...
My apologies for the appalling length of this post, but this has been
bottled up for a long time, and I've got a lot to talk about. I'm sure
some of it will look familiar, but I hope y'all can bear with me.
I came out on Sunday, October 17, 1993 (having missed last year's NCOD
by six days), at the age of 30, about two minutes after my one of my very
best friends came out to me. And it was about time, too. I had finally,
after years of struggle, come to terms with my sexuality. In retrospect,
I guess I had probably come out to myself as fully as I could by that
point, although at the time, my only shrieking thought was that I was
*NOT* ready for this!
A big part of my problems in dealing with this stemmed from extremely
homophobic Catholic parents (more on that later). Nothing I ever felt
seemed abnormal or unnatural to me, but whenever the subject came up
from parents, peers and church, I heard nothing but hate and demonization.
So, during the entire time that I lived at home, my homosexuality was my
I lived at home all through college, until I was 20, and at one point
even swore to myself that I would commit suicide if my parents ever found
out. That's how bad I thought their reaction would be. I'm thankful
that it never came to my having to make that decision, and I now question
if I would have really seriously considered it had they found out about me.
Still, I can't imagine what would have happened had they found out
while I was still living at home and under their control.
In order to keep them (and anyone else) from finding out, I simply put a
wall around my sexuality. If I didn't practice it, if I kept what I knew
*completely* to myself, they couldn't find out.
When I finally moved away to go to graduate school, I still kept the
wall up. I suppose I could have come out then (and sometimes wish I
had), but I was still financially dependent on my parents. Even though
I was 2000 miles away, my fear still kept me in the closet. The closet
had become ... comfortable, familiar. It just became so easy to keep it
up; I had been at it for so long that I had gotten very used to it, and
it seemed to me that I could keep up the facade without too much effort.
I wasn't lonely, because I had many terrific friends, and still do. But
I was alone. And in the first couple of months after I came out, while I
was trying to get my head together and catch up with myself, I had my
period of anger about "wasted youth", and the fact that I let myself miss
my twenties ... all those years of potential relationships and love (and
yes, sex) lost because I was afraid to come out. (I've seen several other
coming out posts here that expressed similar feelings.) I've gotten over
that, though, for the most part.
For so many years, from high school to graduate school and beyond, I had
simply denied what I was feeling, even though I *knew* who and what I was,
ever since I was a kid. It was probably 1989 or 1990 before I even began to
come out to myself.
When I finally came out to myself, I told myself, "Well okay, I accept
it ... but I'm *never* coming out. Ever." This, of course, would doom
me to a lifetime of loneliness. Or rather, being alone. For a long
time, I had actually resigned myself that that would be the case.
So over the past four years or so, I gradually came out to myself more
and more, and began to consider the possibility of one day, way down the
line, coming out to someone else. There was so much along the way that
helped me. I found some books and did a lot of reading. And there
were little things, things that might sound trivial to some -- such as,
for instance, Mark Slackmeyer, the Doonesbury character with whom I had
always most closely identified, having come out in the strip. Another
shaggy-haired, campus hell-raising, public radio guy! Cute, too.
Of course, he's fictional, but nobody's perfect ...
And I have to tell y'all ... perhaps *the* main thing that helped me come
out was getting Usenet access and finding this newsgroup. It was a
wonderful revelation, having the ability to read about others who have
this in common with me -- for the most part happy, intelligent, educated,
warm, witty people. I really needed to hear about real people, talking
about their lives, their experiences, their comings out, both positive
and negative, noting their reading recommendations ...
Everything helped, even the flamewars; as dumb as flamewars can be, I
learned from them, too. All of this was of indescribable help to me.
Believe it. And thanks very much.
So I figured that yes, I *would* come out eventually. But knowing me,
God Emperor of Procrastination that I am (as I've been dubbed by some of
my friends), I figured I'd do it two, three, four, even five years down the
Actually, when it happened, it was a big surprise. On that night, I
was certainly *not* expecting that I would come out.
It had been an altogether fantastic weekend. On Saturday the 16th I had a
guest performer play on my radio show, a terrific folk/blues singer named
Chris Smither (a fellow New Orleans boy). He was great, and we had tons
of fun. The next day, I had a housewarming party at my new apartment and
made one of my specialties, Creole red beans 'n rice, for 25 friends,
some of whom I hadn't seen in a while. One of the guests was my good
friend J., who had been out of town on a job for several months. He came
to hang out with me at the station that night, and afterwards we went out
to get some dinner.
It was late, so we ended up at the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica.
(Ehh. It was close, and it was open late.) The meal was all right,
but I just enjoyed his company, because it had been so long since I'd
seen him. After the meal, while we were waiting for dessert, he said,
right out of the blue, "So! I have something I have to tell you." And I
*knew* what he was going to say. He leaned forward a bit. "I'm gay."
I think I left my body at that moment. My mind was somewhere floating in
the Twilight Zone, spinning faster than it had ever spun in my life,
years of conversations and arguments with myself flashing back in a few
Apparently my body kept going on autopilot, mouthing congratulations, and
I appreciate you telling me, etc. But J. noted later that I looked
*VERY* distracted, and that I seemed to be elsewhere.
I was really not surprised by this. J. had been sending out signals to me,
both inadvertently and deliberately, and had himself come out about 10
months before, while he was away. But still, to hear it ... it was, in a
way, both delightful and terrifying news, and was both what I expected
him to say and the very last thing I expected him to say.
And I began to realize, in those few moments, that I'd never be able to look
him in the face again and pretend to be someone that I was not. He had
enough faith and value in our friendship to trust me enough to tell me,
and I realized that if I didn't tell him then, it would feel like a betrayal.
What finally did it, about two minutes after he said The Words, was a very
strong and loud voice in my head (my own, I guess), that said, and I quote:
"DON'T BE A SNIVELING FUCKING COWARD!"
And with another little, reedy inner voice, hanging on for dear life,
screeching, "NO! Don't! I'm not ready for this!" ... I said,
"Um ... well, guess what? ... I am, too."
And then I began to shake. Didn't stop shaking for about 20 minutes, either.
By the time we had finished talking that night (that poor waitress ...
"You guys want some *more* coffee? Sigh .."), I had calmed down, and
despite my fear, I started to feel really, really, really good.
I got home that night, and there was already a message from J. on my
machine. He lives 8 miles further south than me, so he *couldn't* have
beaten me home; he must have pulled over to a phone booth to do this.
The message said, "Okay! Calm down! What you did tonight was
fantastic. Just take a deeeeep breath .... sloooowly, in ... and out.
Now take another one. Relaaaaax. Okay? Okay! Everything's going to be
great ... get a good night's sleep, and we'll talk tomorrow."
It's pretty wonderful to have friends like this.
And lemme tell ya ... that night, my life changed utterly. For the first
time ever, I felt truly happy and at peace, and it's only gotten better
since then. Things so far have gone spectacularly well -- coming out to
my siblings and friends has been nothing less than a joy. There were
plenty of nervous moments, but it's been getting easier and easier.
I still haven't achieved significant-otherhood, and the search is on, but
I'm wary of rushing into anything. Weird ... I have to learn how to do
this without feeling hopelessly inept; sometimes I feel like I've been
dropped onto another planet. I still have to figure out where I fit into
All Of This. But things are looking up ... I met someone the other
night. The dance has begun. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
It's already gotten to the point where this last year seems to have gone
by in a flash, and yet the Days Before seem like they're light years
behind me. The closet now looks like a dark and dank cave, deep and
foreboding, a poisonous place. I've already had difficulty imagining
living my life as it was before. And I've still got a long way to go,
and paths to follow both positive and negative -- the prospect of facing
and fighting discrimination, but also the beginning of a life of
relationships, of finally finding love, and someone with whom I can share
Then ... there are my parents.
I'm facing a positively Apocalyptic coming out to my parents, who are
arch-conservative fundamentalist Catholics (if there is such a thing,
they're it). I've got stories to tell, and I think I'm going to need
lots of advice. In addition, my mom is incapable of being rational when
subjects like this come up, and I fear that this might put her over the
edge into the abyss ... to be frank, I wonder if this news will put
her in a rubber bedroom.
The problem is, I feel myself growing more and more distant from them for
having not told them, and it's only going to get worse. I won't hide my
life from them, I won't give them that much control over how I live my
life. I love them and want to be closer to them, but I really, really
don't know if they (particularly my Mom) can handle it. Yeesh.
Despite those folks that may refer to this place as *this* *place*,
and despite the rockiness of the road I've read here, on and off ...
I think this is a good place, and I'm really glad I can be doing this
here (although I must confess that it's a little terrifying to be doing
this in front of ~100,000 strangers). I'm a stranger to practically all
of you, although I've communicated with a few motssers via PVT EMAIL (and
thanks particularly to Emily, for sending the PFLAG literature).
Still, after having read this group for so long, and having benefitted so
much from many of the words here, I feel as if I've gotten to know some
of you ... strange, isn't it? I hope that y'all can get to know me, and
I plan to participate here as much as I can. I'm a newbie, but I hope
not too clueless of a newbie. If I say something clueless, I have no
doubt that it will be pointed out to me, posthaste ... ;-)
A bit about me ... Native New Orleanian, expatriate in southern
California. Music junkie and friendly neighborhood public radio
roots-music DJ (although you'd have to be an insomniac to catch my show
at its current time slot).
And I cook. Creole, Cajun, Thai, Russian and more ... Still, I've got a
lot to learn. I'm also enrolled in UCLA's professional culinary program
at night. I'm not too thrilled with the day job, and I'm giving serious
thought to food as a career. (And I also love stock-making day.) It's
also been fun reading about all the food and wine consumed by participants
in this newsgroup, and I'm really looking forward to my Intro to Oenology
and Viticulture class ...
So why did I take so long to finally post here? Fear, probably. I almost
replied to Mary's post a while back about coming out later in life, but
I chickened out. Not a little bit of paranoia, also. I keep thinking that
someone my parents know, undoubtedly on one of those overgrown national
BBSes, will be "monitoring" this newsgroup, see my post and tell them.
Highly unlikely, but possible. I guess it's a risk to post here at this
point, but I've learned that I'll never get anywhere if I don't take a
few risks. (Be advised, if any such person reads this and is thinking of
such a thing ... don't.)
Once again, I'm sorry for being so long-winded, but if this coming out story
helps even one other person, then I guess it's worth it. And again, I'm very
grateful to many people here, particularly those who've posted their own
coming out stories. The list of people that I'd like to thank is
long, and I don't want to leave anyone out, so I'll just say thanks to
everybody. Y'all did good.
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