The Complexity of Coming Out

When I sat down to write this article, I found myself pushing it off. At first, I thought this was just another one of my procrastination episodes. Truth be told, I had a hard time starting this article, because… it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to write.

In order to live an authentic life, I came to the realization that I had to accept myself. The hardest person to come out to, in my opinion, is yourself. I said to myself, “Shawn… you gay asf.” Okay, not exactly like that, but you get the point. It wasn’t until after I did this that I was able to come out to others. After coming out to my parents, my friends, and everyone around me as gay, I left it at that. I don’t think I ever took the time to reflect on this experience. This is the first time that I am sitting down and gathering my thoughts on my “big reveal.” I am forcing myself to do this because I know that there are people out there that are still “in the closet” that have not come out yet because they are scared of the aftermath. They are scared that they may lose friends, lose family members, lose their job, lose everything. While coming out may come with loss, it is still one of the most (if not the most) liberating experiences a queer person will go through. With that said, come out when you’re ready and when it’s safe for you to do so. Hopefully, though, this article will help you see some of the positive things that follow the coming out process. 

In an effort to make this article a reasonable length, I will not bore you by writing about my entire journey. On Sunday, June 16, 2019 (Father’s Day), I woke up especially sad. I was supposed to be celebrating my father, but how could I when all I could think about was how upset he might be when I finally had the courage to tell him that I am gay? For those who don’t know, I am Mexican-American. My dad came to the United States when he was 15. My mother is also Mexican-American. Both of my parents are Christians. Long story short, machismo/Mexican culture + Christian influence = extreme fear of coming out. 

My mother and I went for a drive that morning; we got into a small argument and that is when I broke the news to her. Yikes. As I expected, the tears started falling, and I could see the hurt in my mother’s eyes. My father and I didn’t explicitly speak about the issue until about one week later. Tensions rose in my family, others started finding out, and I was getting a million questions thrown at me.

 “Are you sure?”

 “When did you know?” 

“Have you tried dating women?”

 “What about children?” 

“Have you had sex with a guy to be sure this is what you want?”

 “Have you tried praying about it?” 

“What will ___ say?” 

“Top or bottom?” 

“Have you thought about what happens if you contract HIV?” Because of all of the drama conflama, I thought I had made the worst decision of my life. I wanted to run back in the closet. I wanted to take my words back. I wanted to shout “APRIL FOOLS” (two problems: 1) I would have looked like a jerk for making a joke out of the coming out experience and 2) IT WAS THE MIDDLE OF JUNE). I felt like I owed everyone an explanation, so I spent hours trying to explain myself to people, and I was just… miserable. I felt rejected by many, which was a weird feeling, because (before I came out) the vast majority of the people that were condemning me told me that they would love and support me no matter what. I guess they forgot to say “except if you come out as gay.” Because of this, my attitude toward people changed. I started distancing myself from others. Truth be told, I was done wasting my time on people whose love revealed itself to be conditional. Tea. 

I will say, however, that all of this pain and rejection were temporary and minimal. The vast majority of the people in my life were supportive and loving.  My friends were all supportive, my little sister was not phased, and my parents sat me down to tell me that they will ALWAYS love and support me. Sidenote: my grandma, by far, had the best response. When I told her I was gay, she said, “okay… do you have a lover? ;)?” From that moment on, I felt unstoppable. I realized that not everyone will get this “rainbow at the end of the storm” (haha see what I did there?) coming out experience, so I am beyond grateful and privileged that I did. 

What coming out did for me was give me confidence in who I am. It made me stronger. It made me realize that some people are not who they say they are. It made me prioritize my joy. I thought to myself, “at the end of the day, I have to go to sleep at night, by myself (I mean unless there is a guy out there that is willing to change that. I am taking applications.) and be happy with who I am.” No one else is going to live my life for me. Coming out gave me a new type of happiness. With that said, coming out does not solve everything. As a matter of fact, it may even cause more problems for a variety of reasons — BUT your happiness and liberation are worth it. It was for me. 

If you’re not ready to come out, THAT IS OKAY. Again, the purpose of this article is to shed light on the complexity of the coming out experience. It is full of ups and downs and all arounds, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world. To the closeted person, it is possible to be happy. It is possible to overcome the challenges that follow your coming out. It is okay to love yourself. You are not an abomination. You are not a mistake. You are not a disappointment. You are simply you. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are loved. When you’re ready, the LGBTQIA+ community has its arms wide open to welcome you to the community. I know I do.

 

Image Credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3, 45