Seeing Me for Me
“Coming Out”. If I allowed myself, I could get very annoyed by those two words. Only in ones personal life do they have to “come out.” There has been plenty of public and private debate over if, when, how and why LGBT people should come out. If you add to that equation that the person in question has any type of celebrity it becomes an expectation. I have had several coming outs, to family, friends and even to myself.
In high school, I dated girls because I wanted to, not because I was hiding anything or trying to “fit in”. My feelings and relationships with those girlfriends were genuine and I don’t regret them for anything. When I got to college, my perception of the world changed. I became aware of so many more types of people, both gay and straight. I never felt that I fit the midwestern mold of a “straight” man, and getting to college I didn’t necessarily fit the mold of what I was seeing for gay men either. I slept with and dated only men throughout college and yet I would not identify myself as gay. At that time for me, a relationship was defined by there being some emotional intimacy and I would not allow myself to feel that for men. I didn’t know how long my relationship with men would last, but I thought that it wouldn’t be for the rest of my life. All of that changed for me when I was 20yrs old. I had met someone at a bar and we talked during the night, only to not exchange phone numbers and go our separate ways. I didn’t see him again for the better part of a year but had literally dreamed of seeing him. When we saw each other a second time I made sure that we exchanged numbers and we started to talk. We would spend a lot of time on the phone sharing our day with the other and planning visits, some of which got postponed. It was exciting, fun, connected and different than what I thought any relationship I’d have with a man would look like. As I realized that I had fallen in love with him and expressed it to him, he broke up with me… on Valentine’s Day. For many years after that I would project that experience into my expectations of what Valentine’s Day would be for myself. Looking back at it, it was simply another day on the calendar and I’ve had some wonderful February 14th’s since then. J This relationship was the first time I had been emotionally connected to another man.
I had experienced a strong emotional connection with another person and a man at that. That was something that I had told myself would never happen, or so I thought. I had to reexamine what my life was going to look like now. I had spent so much time lying to myself because of fear; fear of how I would look to others and most of all, the fear of looking at myself and seeing all of the bad things that I thought so many in the world see when they see a gay man. To be honest, when I saw most gay men I would cast a judgment on them based on how they dressed, spoke or acted and it was because I was afraid that others would see in me what I saw in those gay men. In my mind, all gay men were extremely effeminate and to be considered that was a great insult. I’ve learned that there are all types of gay men, just as there are all types of straight men.
Over the years I have learned who I am as a man and that I have the choice to be any type of man I want to be. Not everyone is going to like it and they don’t have to. I start and end the day with the most important person in my life…ME. The greatest love that I’ve ever received is the love for myself and that is one I intend to nurture for the rest of my life.