COMING OUT: AN UNEXPECTED EXPERIENCE
WRITTEN BY: STEPHEN CARPENTER
It is very hard, even in today’s society, to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Although times are changing, some individuals around the world are not so excepting to the idea that not everyone is a heterosexual. For years, as a gay man myself, I was very unsure on how I felt about the rest of the gay population. Recently, I started embracing more of who I really was, while opening my eyes to other peoples point of view. It took a while to fully understand all aspects of the “rainbow,” but as time continues, I am doing my best to do just that. So, in honor of pride month, I decided it was time to open up about my coming out story, and why it changed my life forever. It is very sad that, even today, we hide who we really are. You would think that by now, acceptance would not be an issue, but it is.
It all started my freshman year of high school, when I was roughly 15 years of age. As a young child, I never saw myself as one of the guys. My best friends at that time were all female and it never occurred to me that my hobbies and interests were not completely guy appropriate, if that makes any sense. I loved having sleep over parties with my girlfriends, playing house when I was 10, practicing gymnastics routines in the yard, and singing Britney Spears songs with my sister’s comb. Honestly, did none of these encounters trigger any red flags to my family; I guess not. Throughout middle school, I dated many girls. Looking back at it all now, I was probably more of the girl than the actual girl. Maybe they went out with me, because they bonded so well with me (a girl always needs a gay best friend, ya know!?).
As time went on, I started realizing that girls were never really my thing. It started to become something it should not have been…a cover story! At the end of the women era, I hurt a few individuals, but the person I was really hurting was myself. Once the secret of mine was told to one of my good friends at the time, it took less than 24 hours for the entire school to know as well. I walked through the hallways, unaware that it was going around. People smiled, glared, and said things to me as they walked by. They knew and all I could think of was “is it worth it?” That year I developed a large crush on a Junior at my school. To be honest, he was the reason I came out to all my friends. It was such a childish crush that should never have happened, but because of it, I learned so many new things about myself at that time. I was bad shit crazy. Okay, not really, but seriously, I was not normal. I think that I wanted to be with a man so badly that I did immature things that lowered everyone’s opinion of myself. But, of course that crush remained a crush, and eventually became a long lost memory.
As that year continued, I became comfortable with everyone around me knowing, except for my family. I had no idea how my parents would react. My siblings, such as my sisters, knew right away. I was very close to them, and it felt like at times, they were the only ones I could go to. Also, I had spoken to my birth mother occasionally over the phone while trying to develop some kind of relationship, and in one of our conversations, she had found out that I was a homosexual. She respected it, and kept my secret from my parents… at least I thought.
I will never forget coming home from school the one afternoon, and as I looked out the bathroom window, my stomach began to sink. My father was pacing the yard, while on the phone, and somehow I knew that I was in so much trouble. My father looked so disappointed outside and I continued to worry while sitting in my room. My mother and her friend finally got home, so I began walking downstairs. I could hear conversation in the back of the house and I moved closer to ease drop a little. It turned out, I was right. Someone told him my secret. My birth mother told my father that I was gay. I immediately went directly upstairs and closed my door. Minutes later, I heard a knock. My mother and her friend had came up to ask if it was true, but I didn’t respond. Thankfully, they seemed welcoming to the idea and were very accepting to the thought of it. I responded after a while, “yes.” Sadly, they knew my father was severely upset, and warned me that it wouldn’t be wise to be around him for a while. I began to worry even more than I already was. I did not choose for him to find out, but he did, and now I have to deal with it. So, for days, I avoided him. Then one day, I came home to an embarrassing encounter that made some of my family very uncomfortable.
My father had called my youth pastor to come into my house and talk about why I “think” I am gay. Why did it matter so much? As I sat on the couch, tears streaming down my face, I was asked, “do you lay with other men,” “why are you choosing this lifestyle,” and “do you know it’s a sin and you will go to hell.” I was lost of words as everyone stared at me, waiting for an answer that I just did not have. My sister, who was only a year older than I, remained downstairs, upset by what she was hearing. She began to walk towards the staircase, yelling at my father, and the pastor, enraged by their inability to accept. I did not want to be there. I felt stuck and sick in the stomach. All I wanted to do was stand up and hit somebody, but I sat there and sobbed. When I was asked these questions again, I knew they would not stop until I gave them what they wanted. I told them I did not lay with other men and that I was not totally sure if I was gay. Conversation continued and at the end of this uncomfortable experience, the pastor hugged me and I ran upstairs, away from my father.
After that day, I stopped going to church and the relationship between my father and I, became very unstable. I did not feel like he loved me the same way anymore and I had no idea what I could do to please him. But, as time went on, I accepted that everyone knew and I could no longer hide the fact that I was, indeed, a homosexual. Better yet, I am human. I should not have to hide who I truly am to make everyone else in the world happy. I need to make myself happy. I went through multiple relationships with men as I grew up into my adult years. I moved out with multiple roommates, due to some issues at home, but at 22, I moved back home again. It took some time to figure some things out, but finally I moved out on my own, owned my first car, and lived my life the way I wanted. I became more accepting to myself and my relationships with my parents became a little better.
Through the 8 years since the coming out experience, I could feel my dad somehow become more accepting and loving towards me. Then, I met the man I think is the one. The day I brought my current boyfriend home, my dad was so welcoming to him, and my mom was nicer than she ever was to anyone else. It was strange. It made me smile, knowing that my father finally accepted the fact that I was living the life that I wanted to. Even though the initial experience was disturbing and unpleasant, the outcome in the end was well worth it. I figured out my true self, learned valuable lessons, and accepted that not everyone needs to be in my life.
To this current day, I live my true life at home, with my boyfriend Harry, and our two cats, Binx, and Myra. My parents are still loving, caring, accepting, and interested in my life. For that I am grateful. To all individuals out there who are too scared to come out to friends and family, breathe and get it over with. It might not be the best moment in your life, but as time goes by, you will thank yourself, knowing you did what you had to do, to make yourself happy. Labels are just labels. Don’t let other sheltered individuals tell you how you should live your life. They weren’t born in your body. They don’t go to work for you. They don’t pay your bills. You do it for yourself and you do it for your future. But, always remember, be happy!