Hell, I’ve been an LGBTQ/HIV activist since 1990. I’ve been coming out to people ever since. Think it gets any easier? Gets ordinary?
I take a deep breath every single time I tell somebody I’m gay. I fight a strong urge to just keep quiet. Every. Single. Time.
Coming out is hard and takes real courage. For all the reasons you’ve written about so well.
Because it’s much easier to be gay these days than when I was a kid, because so many people support nominal LGBT equality, we sometimes get the narrative wrong, mistaking progress for acceptance.
I have a young acquaintance in his teens. He came out in 8th grade in a suburban, prosperous middle school where people say all the right things about equality and rights.
But coming out was still a mixed bag for him. He was thrilled in one respect, because he had a boyfriend and he could be open about it.
But despite a fairly positive initial response, he lost friends and became the occasional target of homophobic slurs.
People who feel insulted if they’re taken for gay often have a hard time truly accepting friends they thought were straight.
Worse though, is that we gay men often feel the SAME WAY. We’ve internalized the same feelings you have. We suffer a frisson of internal insult when we think of OURSELVES as gay. How not? The same environment that produced it in you produces it in us.
The best any of us can do is acknowledge how we feel and vow to behave differently from what our feelings might dictate.
I hate to use clichés, but faking it until we make it is the only thing we can do. That and hope that future generations grow up differently than we did.
Great story. Thanks!
P.S. My best marathon time is 3:15. I’m super jealous! ;-)