Here is a continuation of my coming out stories. I apologize for it taking so long to get the next one up, but as I have said before things have been incredibly busy. If you have missed the previous coming out posts, you may check out those posts by clicking this link: Coming Out. Or by going to those posts directly. Here they are in order:
- Coming Out: The Struggle
- Coming Out: “Am I, or Am I Not?”
- Coming Out: “Feelings of Betrayal”
- Coming Out: Acceptance
- Coming Out to My Parents
- Coming Out: The Urges
- Coming Out: The First Step
Coming out to the first person is always a big step. It is the first time that you have told anyone else something that you (probably) consider your biggest secret. It was for me. I told two people the first time I told anyone, it was a huge step, but I was not ready for everyone to know, at least not yet. I had to become more comfortable with it myself.
The second time I came out to anyone, was probably much more dramatic. My first coming out took place in April, it was not until the following November that I decided to come fully out to the closet to my friends and colleagues. I had told no one else that I was gay. Then a situation presented itself to explore a little. I was going to attend an academic conference in New Orleans, the gay mecca for the South. So while we were down there, I was hoping to get to go to a gay bar for the first time. The events of our evening in New Orleans French Quarter worked out so that this is exactly what happened. The female friend that I had come out to was down there without her boyfriend, so we were hanging out at a few bars with some of the other graduate students. One of the other guys started hitting on my friend, this was an unwanted advance. So I suggested that we get out of there and go somewhere else. It was expected that wherever we went, these two annoying guys would follow us, so I suggested that we go to a gay bar. All of us knew that these two guys would not go to a gay bar, so we went and they decided to go to a strip club (not something I was interested in). Only three of us went to the gay bar (Oz to be exact, very fun place, btw). We had a blast, dancing, drinking, and flirting with the dancers on the bar. It was the most free and natural that I had ever felt. I had never felt as comfortable in a straight bar as I did in Oz. We all had a total blast, but it was obvious to everyone, that my coming out to most of the people in my graduate program was just around the corner.
The next Friday night, after we had returned from New Orleans, most of the graduate students were at a bar in town that we would frequently meet at when classes for the week were over. After a few drinks, I figured what the hell, let’s talk about what we all did in New Orleans. So I mentioned going to the gay bar. It was a very casual thing, and I remember a few questions being asked, but I don’t actually remember how it all went. By the end of the night, it was obvious to all those with us, that I had come out of the closet. It seemed like no big deal, and really it wasn’t. I was just finally able to quit looking like I was checking out girls.
Then Monday rolled around, and I was the center of departmental gossip. Nothing mean was said, everything was very supportive, but news got out quickly. Most of that news was in a congratulatory fashion for having the courage to come out, and how welcoming they were towards my sexuality. For those who had not gotten the message during that week, by the next weekend when we were all gathered out drinking again, everyone in my department knew. It was a very liberating experience and overall a very positive experience. Thank God that academia is a welcoming and liberal institution (for the most part anyway). I am sure that during my graduate career that my orientation has worked against me a few times, but for the most part it never made a huge difference. I am who I am, and they accepted me for it, with no questions asked and they were happy that I could be myself. They also understood the very conservative background that I came from, so their support was all the stronger.