I am a gay man. My coming out experience was a breeze. The first person I told was my cousin who I was living with at the time. No surprise. Second was my sister who I consider my best friend. Again no surprise. It continued like this until everyone knew. Even my parents took it well who just needed a night to sleep on it and then they got curious and started asking questions about everything.
All in all, an easy coming out experience. This is now almost 20 years ago and over the years people have asked me what it was like coming out for me. I’ve always joked saying it was too easy. But despite not having to face a backlash of hate, head on, it was still difficult. Every single time I told someone, I would go for days worrying about how they might react. Worried that they would hate me, stop talking to me, laugh at me, think less of me. Such worry takes its toll.
I love my life, I love being gay, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And although I have been living my life as an openly gay man since my coming out, this worry still exists and I know I am not alone. The fear of not being loved for who you are is universal, yet emphasized in the LGBTQ+ community. And I have felt that my whole life.
. . .
This fear is what stops us embracing who we truly are. We feel shameful and often try to hide. After a while it becomes subconscious.
It’s the fear that stops us holding hands on the street.
The fear that stops us kissing each other in public or showing any form of affection publicly.
It’s the fear that sometimes make us avoid situations where we have to come out of the closet — again.
Having been openly gay for so many years, it has become easier to not care what others think. Especially, knowing I have a supportive family and network of friends, and I have huge community where I can feel at home.
. . .
I used to feel so ashamed of being gay that I felt apologetic to straight people for potentially making them feel uncomfortable. I no longer feel that way, that is not my problem.
The real apology that I owe is to my own community. A community of beautiful diverse people who just want to love and be loved.
My fear held me back. It held me back from embracing who I am, and it held me back from embracing my community — the only place where I can find true understanding.
. . .
I’ve come home
It’s ironic how I never felt like I belonged anywhere, despite having a huge network of gay friends. Somehow, the fear of being seen just wouldn’t allow me to embrace the diversity my community brings. A community that spreads nothing but colorful love.
I’m grateful to know that nothing is ever too late and I am so happy to finally be home.
And to anyone in the community who may feel like an outsider — we are here for you when you need us.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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