Three years ago, on this day, I came out of the closet.
It feels weird to think it was such a big deal at the time. I legitimately felt like I was walking up to a cliff’s edge, that the world could possibly end if I took one step forward. I braced myself, fully expected it, yet knowing strangely that for better or for worse, I’d still be fine.
It seems like it almost will be “controversial” to both sides for me to say this, but what sticks out as I think back to my actually relatively brief coming out journey (8 months from the moment I came out to myself to the moment I came out to the world) is God being throughout it all. From being able to even accept that I was gay in the first place, to those closest to me that were around me at the right time, to the conviction that I couldn’t stay buried in the back of my closet forever, trying to be the gay Hannah Montana who sloppily navigated two identities and finally, to the actual push of courage that allowed me to spring out from that closet.
There was so evidently something outside of myself, giving me what I needed to be able do what I had to do. I couldn’t have done it on my own. I was a very prideful person at the time, finding a haven in the reputation I had worked hard to cultivate. I was also someone who took my faith very seriously. I spent all of my time in religious circles across the board, and here I was, about to hand everyone an opportunity to invalidate me in their minds, because I was embracing something that everyone around me said was wrong.
That was one lesson I learned throughout all of this: pride ain’t shit. Authenticity is, though. Because pride will come crashing down with the slightest of pushes, but if you’re true to yourself, you have a foundation to remain standing on, no matter how shaky it may sometimes feel.
Pride is also a prison. Authenticity, however, has been the most freeing thing I’ve ever been able to experience. The luxury to just be myself brazenly, carefree to what whomever may think, has been absolutely invaluable. I’ll never go back into any closet again. I’d relive every strenuous, heartbreaking, insecure moment, just as long as it lands me right back here.
I remember the day - April 4, 2013 - and its sensations clearly, actually. It was a beautiful, Los Angeles day. You know, a SoCal Spring that’s the equivalent to an “Anywhere Else Summer.” There had been a slew of inciting incidents leading me up to this exact date that I had purposely chosen:
First, a guy from work asking me out. I had immediately panicked and given him my number in response, but then felt guilty for even leading him on even that much, because I wasn’t interested in him at all to no fault of his - he was just a man, and I was just gay, but no one but me and a few friends knew. This man certainly didn’t. So I awkwardly told him that he shouldn’t get the wrong idea about having my number, because I wasn’t into men...if he knew what I meant.
It was the shittiest situation, and I never wanted to go through it again if I could help it, so I could feel the pressure being turned up.
The other inciting incident: this church service, about a week and a half before I came out. When I started writing this post, I couldn’t remember specifically what the sermon had been about - I just know that it honestly felt like a sign, an overwhelming call from the heavens, screaming “IT’S TIME TO LEAVE THE CLOSET!”
I just tracked down an old journal entry, knowing that I probably had written specifically about that sermon, and sure enough, on March 24, 2013, I did. The title of that sermon?
“Going Public.” The notes that follow?
“The power of people’s opinions can have control over your life. We’re concerned we might be rejected: so what?”
I can’t help but chuckle a little bit at the irony. Not many people would expect that a Christian church sermon would be the catalyst needed for someone to come out as gay. Yet, that’s what it was for me. It officially jump-started something I had been putting off and avoiding for months - suddenly, I couldn’t escape the conviction.
You just know - well, at least I just know - when it’s the right time to do something that’s been lingering there for awhile. I knew when it was the right time to move out to Los Angeles after wanting to for years, and I knew it was time for me to step out of the closet - I could feel the pressure closing in from all angles. Not in a panic-inducing way, but it was so clear that it was time for me to fully live this new chapter of my life. Mostly, I know it was God whispering in my ear, “It’s time. I got you.”
So April 4, 2013. I escaped my insufferable apartment in favor of the Coffee Bean down the street - a bourgie ass one in Brentwood with a gorgeous patio with heat lamps and umbrella shades. I parked there for an hour with my journal and Bible, regurgitating all of my thoughts and fears on to the page and countering them with courage and hope. I re-read my planned coming out message a hundred times, tweaking it to perfection, then prayed so fervently that it kind of reminds me of when you’ve been vomiting so much that you’ve run out of food to throw up, but that doesn’t stop you as you move on to liquid, then stomach lining and then dry heaving. That’s the point I got to with prayer. Dry heaving prayers.
It was what I needed. I don’t think the fear would’ve ever fully dissipated, nor would the constant swarming of all the possibilities of what could happen as soon as I took this step ever stop completely. But it honestly gave me a bed of peace and assurance. It left me knowing this was what I was supposed to do, and that if I did, it would be okay. I would be kept okay.
So set steady and kept well, I left the Coffee Bean and walked to the public library, because at the time I didn’t have a computer, so I had to use the ones at the library. It was there I typed up my personal essay on my tumblr page, my official reveal to the world at large that I was, yes, a Christian, but I was also gay, and that I was embracing both fully.
I read it over. I took several deep breaths. I posted it.
Then I shared it on my Facebook page.
To hundreds of people.
Most of them Christians.
There is this unique sensation you get after you’ve done something nerve-wracking, but necessary. Though you walk away from it a little shaky, you’re immediately overcome with this presence, this energy, this sense of relief.
For me, right then, it was also freedom.
And comfort. I did this, and the world might end, but it was going to be okay.
Spoiler alert: the world didn’t end.
Bolstered by my two best friends - Carmen and Nina, who had been with me for every step of the way and knew I was unleashing my coming out on that day, I knew I’d at least have their support on my post and so it gave me the further courage to check my Facebook notifications regularly for the reactions.
There was Carmen’s like and comment first, which was to be expected. But then there were the ones that followed, like after like, comment after comment, some from the most surprising of places, all of them affirming, all of them supporting, all of them loving.
None of them from the people I was currently going to church with, who I had been going to church with for the past nearly two years lol
But perhaps most comforting was the unabashed, overflowing comments of support from every single person I had served on leadership with in the Christian club that I was very active in in college. There wasn’t an ounce of condemnation, or even the sense of “we love you, but...” embedded in there. They knew me, and so they trusted me, and even though I hadn’t seen them in almost three years, they loved me no matter what, and they let me know that.
When I get bitter over Christians and the church, resentful by the way Reality LA seemed to subtly oust me out and turn against me because I was gay and I owned it, I need to remember that that really isn’t indicative of all Christians. And maybe it was living in New York City, a place where you’re constantly surrounded by so many different types of people and perspectives that you can’t help but be changed and affected by it, or maybe it was that my friends there took the time to actually know and understand me on a authentic, genuine level as opposed to the “I’m extending my friendship and being nice to you because God wants me to” sort of attitude that I’ve often encountered out here, but my friends from Cru responded just as I needed them to, and that will always mean the world to me.
It’s strange to think that was ever an issue that remained in contention - how people would react to the fact that I’m gay and furthermore, actually caring about their responses. I am who I am, and I am so glad that I get to finally fully exist in the freedom of being such, without a single care as who how anyone may react to it. That transcends past my sexuality, and into who I am as a whole these days. I think by coming out as gay in a potentially hostile situation (being heavily involved in a conservative-bent church at the time) and surviving that in the end set a mold for me to feel more at ease to be just as open and authentic in all aspects in my life. It’s a good feeling.
I came out, and the world didn’t end. Nope, instead, the world began for me.
Sometimes it seems trite to celebrate this occasion (I didn’t even acknowledge to anyone but myself last year), and sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m just using it as an excuse to get my friends to come karaoke with me, but as much as I realize I’ve honestly started to take it for granted, it really was a huge event in my life. Important enough to honor in some way each year.
Each year, the date falls around the same time as Easter, and I’m starting to realize how fitting that is. From the darkest depths of my own internalized prison, I was resurrected into new life. It feels like that sometimes.
I don’t have some tidy way to end this. I guess there are a couple of things that stand out about this whole coming out thing:
Freedom is invaluable.
I’m surrounded by so much love, and have the best family and friends ever.
Everything did end up being okay. I’m so grateful for that.
I think if there’s anybody out there maybe a little apprehensive about coming out, at least keep hold to those things. You really find out who really loves you when you come out, and man, that love is everything. This is a pretty upbeat post, and I can’t at all say that everything about coming out was easy - there were definitely consequences, there were definitely pains that I’m just now starting to heal from. But despite those things, I wouldn’t have done it any other way, and if freedom and authenticity and love cost those things I suffered and lost, then it’s worth it completely.
I can’t say it all turned out fine in the end, because I haven’t reached the end - not by a long shot. But I know it’s all okay now, and that’s something.
And if you want to read my original coming out post, you can check it out here.