This week’s blog is a letter from reader Brian about his personal experiences with being gay and with coming out. I did a little bit of editing, but the story is still all his in content. I thank Brian for sharing his experiences with all of us and for giving me his blessing on publishing a part of his life’s journey.
As I look back at my past and at my path of self-discovery and enlightenment regarding my sexuality, I realize that it was quite an arduous and anguishing journey.
In the past decade we have seen the stigma and condemnation surrounding being homosexual diminish to the point where the millennial generation finds it challenging to accept just how complicated and petrifying the process of coming out had been for the preceding generation.
As far back as I can remember, I knew that I was attracted more to boys than to girls. I was far too young to comprehend the notion of sexuality or sex at that age, but I was fascinated by my own private parts. It wasn’t long before curiosity regarding other boys began to manifest. Even as young as I was at the time, something always felt wrong about this – I did not know or recognize then but now believe that this feeling was due to the societal inference that boys were supposed to like girls and that it was wrong to like boys instead.
My first sexual experience happened during a sleepover with my childhood best friend. I would sleep in my bed, and he would sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. I remember that he would always make it a point to mention that he slept naked, even ensuring that I saw him take off his underwear in the sleeping bag before tossing them behind him. Being naively unmindful of my friend’s behavior, I made no attempt to act on any of it.
On this particular night, my best friend realized that his subtleties were sailing right over my head and took action. He flipped open his sleeping bag revealing his naked body and his hard-on. Now granted, I had seen many penises at this point in my life, but this was my first experience with seeing one that was hard. He climbed into bed with me and put my hand on his penis while he did the same to mine. That night I got and gave my first blowjob as well. After we were done fooling around, we cuddled in my bed. I remember the feel of another naked body pressed against mine as being a more electrifying experience than the oral sex had been. I still get extremely turned on by cuddling, nude or clothed, to this day.
After the end of my elementary school years, my parents bought a bigger house in a different school district. I was now separated from all of the friends that I had been in class with since kindergarten, and my first high school years were spent with total strangers. However, gym class now involved changing into and out of gym clothes in a locker room – a new experience for me, and naturally my eyes nonchalantly wandered when someone attractive was changing nearby.
This is when I began to have an identity crisis. I knew with a fairly high certainty that I was gay, but yet, I was still interested in and aroused by females at the same time. I also had several rather attractive girls, including one who lived a few houses down from me, express interest and subtly flirt with me, but these were missed opportunities because I thought these girls were just making conversation with me.
I heard the word “faggot” for the first time in high school – and it was directed at me. This was not because I got caught staring at someone’s private parts in the locker room but rather because I was terrible at the sports I was forced to participate in during gym class. The hurtful, mean-spirited epithet naturally did nothing to assuage my anxiety about accepting myself for who I was and for whom I thought attractive.
It was at this point that I started living a lie. I felt I had to pretend that I was straight to be even marginally accepted in this new and hostile high school environment. Predictably, the side effects of trying to be someone I was not included a hell of a lot of stress, anxiety and depression. From my personal experience with this situation for several years, I can understand why so many gay youths commit suicide. You find yourself under more pressure to be “normal” and “straight” than it takes to make a diamond from coal, and, at times, it is very easy to lose your way and potentially give up on life.
During my sophomore and junior years of high school, I was hit on by a few openly gay classmates who very attractive. I wanted nothing more than to give in to their advances, however, stubbornly and stupidly, I held fast to the lie I had been living that I was going to be “straight” regardless of how I actually felt and turned them all down. I still regret that decision to this day.
In 2000, just before I graduated high school, I bought my first computer and access to the internet. I spent a great deal of time in gay chatrooms. It was almost therapeutic to be able to connect with other gays my age online, even though I still lacked the resolve and courage to do so in person. I found an outlet in gay porn as well. Prior to this, all of my jerking off had to be motivated by scenes I imagined. The current younger generations will never understand the struggle of waiting for porn to download over a 56k connection while trying to get off.
A godsend during this period was the new website gay.com because it had local chatrooms. Whereas before I was in a mass chatroom with people from all over the country, on gay.com I could go into the chatroom for the city I lived in and chat with other gay men physically near me. I hooked up with several of them.
I still remained closeted because my parents are both staunch conservatives. When the news that one of father’s brothers, whom we all knew was gay, finally came out to the entire family, my father had been extremely angry about his coming out. I greatly feared that if I too came out I would be disowned and thrown out of my parents’ home.
Shortly after my 21st birthday, a group of my gay friends took me to a gay bar for the first time. I have crippling social anxiety and, for the first few outings to gay bars, I was petrified because I was light years out of my comfort zone and had yet to accept myself as being gay. I didn’t talk to or flirt with anyone. I just clung to my friends and drank. Looking back, I realize a major reason for this heightened level of anxiety was the fear of being seen at such an establishment by someone whom I knew. If you need assistance with understanding this, just watch the scene from season 6, episode 5 of The Sopranos where Vito gets caught at the gay bar by another family crew coming in to collect extortion money – that is about the same level of fear that I had.
To lessen my anxiety, my friends next took me to a gay dive bar across the state line. I was more at ease due to the miniscule possibility of anyone I knew seeing me in that particular bar. I came out of my shell and turned into a social butterfly. I talked to attractive guys and danced on the stage.
I loved that bar so much that I spent almost every weekend night there. The owner took a shine to me and to my dancing and offered me a job as a gogo boy. Of course, I accepted the job offer. At the time, I was the stereotypical sexy blonde, blue-eyed twink (which is a young, attractive, boyish-looking gay man, typically in his early 20s).
Working as a gogo boy was paradise to me. I was making tons of money, was able to drink for free all night and could bed any guy I wanted – my self confidence level was off the charts. I had finally accepted that being gay is who I was after nearly a decade of hiding it, and I did not care who knew anymore. Being gay was no longer a scarlet letter. I was the one thing I had never been before: happy.
While working at the gay bar, I met one of my worst exes ever. The main reason I fell for this walking hot mess was because he, unlike the others who were pursuing me, seemed to actually want to be with me for me. I eventually learned the hard way that he only wanted to take advantage of me.
I was still living at my parents’ house during this period. In order for this ex and I to see each other outside of my stripper boy moonlighting, I either had to stay out of state or really push my luck and sneak him back to my parent’s house, which was a particularly risky move with me being closeted.
Throughout all of the time I lived at home, my mother had this aggravating habit of just opening my bedroom door without knocking whenever she wanted to talk to me or if someone was calling on their landline for me.
One mid-afternoon my ex and I were in my bedroom at my parents’ house for a rare daylight visit. We started fooling around, which happened quite a bit, and then we ended up having sex on the floor. I had my ex on all fours plowing him doggy style and was about to orgasm when all of a sudden I heard my doorknob turning. At this point, time started to stand still because I knew what was about to happen. I just did not know which parent was going to be on the other side of the door.
The door slowly opened and I saw that it was my mother. This knowledge did not comfort me in any way, as she is the more reactional of my parents. Before she saw us, she had just managed to say, “Dinner is ready.”
I locked eyes with my mother as we both simultaneously went into total shock. My ex must not have noticed all of this going on because he asked why I had stopped. I grabbed the back of his head like Dr. Grant did to Ellie in Jurassic Park, and turned it to look at my mother – still standing in the doorway in shock, unable to speak or move. I don’t remember what, if anything my ex said. By this point my mother had regained her senses and slowly closed the door and stomped back down the wooden stairs.
Like a u-boat captain timing a torpedo, I anxiously counted the seconds down, waiting for my father to come tearing up the stairs and deliver a beating upon me. Fortunately, that was not the case, but I knew the moment my mother told him what had happened because I heard my father exclaim, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” with the same level of spite and animosity as when he screams at the TV during a football game.
My ex hurriedly threw his clothes on and ran out of my room, down the steps and out the front door. He was out of harm’s way, having abandoned me to my fate. I knew that a shit storm of Biblical proportion was awaiting me downstairs and wisely chose to lock my bedroom door. I laid down on my bed and just watched the ceiling fan spin as all of the disowned/kicked out scenarios imaginable played out in my racing mind.
Trying to find the bright spot in a nightmare situation, I simultaneously thought and said aloud, “Well, at least now I don’t have to worry about the ‘coming out’ speech.” I burst into spontaneous, hysterical laughter. Once the euphoria of that wore off, the starkness of my situation returned tenfold, and I could feel tears streaming down my cheeks.
I avoided my parents for almost two weeks before I decided to face the inevitable inquisition. I slowly descended the stairs and walked down the hallway to the kitchen. It felt to me what death row inmates must feel on their way to their executions. I made my way into the kitchen and sat in my place at the table, looking at the floor the entire time. I closed my eyes, took a deep, audible breath to try and lessen the cold, anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, and then slowly lifted my head and looked at my parents.
Shockingly, not a word was mentioned about what my mother had seen or about the reality that their only son, who is the last male of child-bearing potential with our surname, was gay. I could tell that both had much that they wanted to say but refrained from doing so. However, both of their faces had tinges of disappointment they were desperately trying to conceal. It was one of the quietest dinners I have ever eaten.
There was an air of tension that remained between my parents and myself for about a week afterward, and then it was like nothing had happened. The story about one the greatest mental traumas I have suffered to date went from being a hush-hush ordeal to one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me.
What I want people to learn from my story is that you should never be ashamed of nor hide who you are or believe that you should be something that you are not. Doing so will only inflict unyielding suffering and anxiety on yourself, as it did in my case.
I passed up what could have been amazing, possibly life-altering, connections exclusively because I was convinced that what I desperately wanted was not what I truly desired. Please do not emulate this concept.