Today is National Coming Out day. I just wanted to explain why coming out was an important thing for me to do.
I was homeschooled by religious fanatics who constantly reinforced ideals of perfection on me. Ideals that would have been shattered by me being gay. This lead me to be terrified of myself, my desires and of who I was. I knew I would make the great experiment fail. Allowing the devil and his armies to win. All because I was a mutilated soul. All because I was gay.
This effected me in ways beyond just hiding my homosexuality, distrusting everyone and projecting “sin” onto others. It made me scared to ever express anything that was originally myself. It effected me creatively.
My first year in college was spent in hiding. I had been socially prepared for living in the “real world” by two years of community college, which is very little counter weight against 22 years of living sequestered in what amounted to a parallel universe. I put myself, comically now but terrifying then, into a universe I had only ever seen through a muddy window.
So of course I applied every bit of training I had received as a child to be good and to survive. Meaning that I only did what I thought would make my teachers happy instead of being an independent creative person able to argue and stand up to criticism. Which was an alien concept for someone who spent his life being told that he was wrong no matter what and that mother and father were right, even if they weren’t.
I was often told that I was being cured of my “sin of rebellion” which now I know to be “any sense of independent thought”. Because suppression was holy where as admitting the truth about yourself was evil.
This is where coming out was important.
I feel that I was a liar.
I would swear up and down that I wasn’t gay (Note, never “straight” just not gay) despite the fact that I had lost my virginity the day I was dropped off at the dorms to a man I met online. This hurt me, my friends, and the gay community. Because lies always do. It hurt my creative work as well because nothing I made was interesting, honest or even very deep. I was terrified of delving past the surface of myself for fear of what would be hidden there. Of course all the best ideas are deep within ourselves and we can’t ever find the good without unearthing the bad or even just the unknown.
I wish I could say that when I came out in the first two weeks of my second year that my creativity and social standing exploded. That I suddenly, in true Disney Channel Original Movie style suddenly was able to tap into the creative wellspring that was in me all along. In fact, it was just the beginning of a long, difficult, and even perilous journey of self discovery. But that was the first of many steps I’ve taken to try and be honest to myself and that has made all the difference to me.