National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender or sexual minority. The holiday is observed in a wide variety of ways: from rallies and parades to information tables in public spaces. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.
I am aware that there are many in the world who cannot express freely who they are or who they want to be. We have individuals who are homeless, being bullied, beaten and even murdered for trying to live their authentic life. For those of us who are living freely and openly, we should not take one day for granted!
Today (NCOD) I want to share my coming out story:
As I was growing up, I did not like the things that many of the boys in my neighborhood liked. I was not a fan of football, basketball or baseball, I was not really attracted to girls, I preferred to hang with the girls (as friends) and I was not a rough little boy. Because of this, I always felt a little weird growing up.
As I started growing older, much did not change. All through elementary and high school, I was always called names because I hung out with mostly girls, I did not play the typical boy sports, my voice was not deep and I was not really a masculine guy. I was just me: a pretty good student, non- confrontational and easy to get along with.
In ninth or tenth grade, I had a girlfriend and our relationship lasted for about eight or nine years. We even talked about marriage and kids. But all along I knew that being married to a woman was not what I wanted. So in 1992, I ended the relationship. It was very hard to do but at that point, I adopted one of the tenets I have lived by ever since: be honest and treat people how you want to be treated.
A year or two later, I was ready to live my life as a gay man. I prayed about it and knew I had to tell my mother. Even though I lived only about five to ten minutes away from her, I was scared to have the conversation in-person, so I wrote her a letter and put it in the mail. I knew it would most likely get there the next day, so every time the phone rang, I thought it was her. We finally spoke and it wasn’t a completely easy conversation, it also wasn’t my worst. She was a little disappointed that I did not come to her in-person because she felt that we had a close relationship. She ended our conversation saying, “You are my son and I will always love you.”
I know that many struggle with coming out, but I feel the pressure of coming out the supposed “right” way can often take precedence over what is a very personal process. I have always said, “As long as my mother and God know, I am good.” Whatever feels right to the person coming out is exactly how he or she should come out. There isn’t some standard; it’s personal. In the end, what should dictate the process of someone coming out is the same for anything else in life: be true to yourself; as long as you do that, things will always be just as they should.”
Happy National Coming Out Day!!