Today is National Coming Out Day. I’m not sure why revealing your sexuality has to have a “National” day of celebration, but letting people know that they have love and support for who they are, and that they are not alone, is fine by me.
I don’t have a soapbox story of my own to tell about the day I came out; everyone’s story is different. Mine is only special to me. In fact, my coming out story didn’t even happen in a single day, but was rather a long process that took place over three distinct events in my past.
The first person I ever “officially” came out to was my best friend back when we were in 7th grade. One night he wrote me a letter telling me that he was gay and that he understood if I didn’t want to be his friend anymore. After reading his letter, I came out to him too. It was a huge relief off of our shoulders and made our friendship even stronger.
But we still remained closeted at school and even into high school. We each had other gay friends that we eventually opened up to outside of school, but there was actually only one other person who I went to high school with that I ever came out to while still in school. I see students today come out loud and proud to everyone and I admire their bravery. But I don’t regret having not done that myself.
By the end of high school I can think of four other people that knew I was gay, and they were gay too. I’m glad I had a support group of sorts back then when I needed it most. Others aren’t as fortunate.
May 1994 is the date I claim as my official “coming out” because that’s when I told my mom. We were driving home from a high school awards banquet and got into an intense discussion about my dad who had just left us in October; their divorce had just been finalized in April.
It was then that I told my mom I was gay. She cried. I thought she’d probably always known, but she said she didn’t. And she denied it and did not want me to tell anyone else in the family. But time changed that. My mom is very supportive of me today, as is everyone else in my family.
I moved away from home in 1995 to attend college and in the spring of 1996 I moved in with a female coworker who I soon came out to. I later discovered she and my boss had been debating my sexuality! My boss later asked me why I’d never told her I was gay. I replied, “Why didn’t you tell me you were straight?” She got my point, and I was happy that she was so accepting of me and had wondered why I had never told her.
And that’s kind of the way I treat my sexuality today. I don’t hide it, but I don’t feel the need to have to “come out” to everyone either. I think we all reach a point in our lives where we feel those that know are just going to know, and we don’t have to reveal it to them necessarily. It’s not a question, and it’s more accepted too.
As a comedian, a lot of my jokes are about being gay and my relationship, so in a way I come out again and again every time I tell those jokes on stage. And it’s a good feeling to do that. I stand out. I’m proud of who I am. And people remember me.
Like I said, not everyone has a “good” coming out story. So, I’m fortunate there. Sure, I was made fun of and called “gay” back in grade school long before I first came out to my friend. I was lucky enough to have a best friend that was gay too. I had a support group of friends that I could rely on. And though my mother didn’t approve in the beginning, she did grow to accept me for who I am.
And that’s my coming out story.
Happy Coming Out Day!