My Gay Fabulous Life: Coming Out Edition

I am gay. So there is that.
As a gay person, there is always the fun process of coming out. I mean, I am sure everyone comes out in one way or another. For example, I read an article in Time Magazine and this journalist came out as an illegal immigrant and I was surprised at how easily I could relate. Not because I am an illegal immigrant (which I am not), but because we experienced the same fears.Some people come out to their families as being liberal or a Ute fan or a HoneyBoo Boo fan. I am sure we can all relate to that feeling of nervousness and fear that runs through us as we state what we need to state. 
Being gay has given me the opportunity to come out, oh so many times. And each time I feel like throwing up. The first time I came out, I came out to my therapist, and myself. That was rough and a real punch in the gut. I guess I have always felt different, but finally admitting that maybe I did not want to marry a tall handsome man and have his babies was a hard reality.  I read a quote that really explains what was going through my mind when I finally admitted out loud that I wasn't as straight as I had hoped:

Because here’s the thing about realizing you’re into girls.Hardly anyone I know has ever said, “Am I gay?” in the same way they say, “Hey, do you know what the weather’s supposed to be like tomorrow?” Like they just need to figure out how to dress for the occasion. No, when most people ask, “Am I gay?” they ask it with the kind of urgency they would usually reserve for things like, “Do I strap this parachute to my back and jump from this free falling airplane or do I nose dive into the ocean and hope the sharks don’t eat my remains? SINK OR SWIM? LIVE OR DIE? QUENCH THE FIRE OR BURN ALIVE?” It feels so urgent, and the reason it feels so urgent is because you’re probably not just asking, “Hey, do I want to make out with other girls?”
You’re also probably asking: What the hell are my parents going to say when I tell them I want to kiss other girls? And my friends and my co-workers and my classmates and everyone at my family reunion? And what’s that girl going to say when I tell her I want to kiss her? And how is my life ever going to be OK, and how can I go on being the same, and am I the same, and what else do I not know about what’s alive inside me? And who will still love me and who will start hating me, and is God involved, or the government maybe, and what if it’s only one girl I want to kiss, and how do I label myself and must I label myself, and what if I change my mind and, really, what if I do burn alive?
 -Heather Hogan

It really was just this sense of am I going to live or die? Will my family still love me, will my friends still accept me, and will this change everything for the worst? Will I still be me after all is said and done?
I went to group therapy that summer and it was about a two month thing, where one day a week we would get together and discuss our issues and get feedback or acceptance or validation, and I have to say, it was a great experience for me. It took me the second to last session to come out them. And I got this overwhelming feeling that I was going to throw up. The blood rushed to my head and my heart was beating out of my chest. I felt like I could cry, laugh, faint, and die all at once. I was expecting the worst, what the worst looked like, I wasn't sure, but their reaction was not it. They just looked at me with warm eyes and this look of confusion. And one of the leaders finally asked me “Did you think our heads were going to explode?”My response? Well, my defense mechanism is humor, so naturally my response was “Yeah,actually, that was exactly what I thought would happen.” But what I learned is that those people still loved me the same, and my wanting to kiss girls wasn't going to change that.
That was a huge relief. In my mind, that could not have gone any better. Now, I had to tell people in my outside life. People I love and treasure the most. And if we use inductive reasoning, they should still love me. But in my head, I had already lost everyone. Once upon a time long ago, in the enchanted lands of middle school, someone had started a rumor that I was gay. And people I considered my friends treated me like I was this disgusting piece of garbage. What does gay even mean, at that age? I was more focused on making it out of there alive. Anyway, the point of that is, I have carried that with me for the better half of my life. I remember telling my therapist how I could not be gay, because I didn't want to prove those people right. Because then everyone would treat me like I was disgusting. I am sure that these people didn't even know what they were saying or doing. And what I should have taken away from that, was all the people who didn't treat me like I was an infected monster; the kind people who were there for me when my 13 year old self felt like everything was crumpling.
But I realized that if I ever wanted to be happy, I had to stop hiding from myself and be brave and fight for myself. I couldn't repress who I was because it was slowly eating me from the inside out. I had to take a stand because at some point what other people think can’t matter anymore,especially people who no longer hold any meaning to my life. Thus, ensuing one of the most exhausting journeys of my life.
            Between individual therapy and group, I went over to my friend’s house. They happen to be a lovely gay couple who I adore very much. We had a few too many, and every time that happens, I start talking and crying. Long story short, I came out to them, and I was not ready to do such a bold thing. I woke up the next morning and felt my heart at the bottom of my stomach. What was I so scared of? They of all people would understand my struggles, but I just wanted the ground to eat me alive. That was my first time coming out to anyone who hadn't signed a confidentiality form. And regardless of their sexual orientation, I was terrified of what they were going to say or think of me. Had they known before I did? Am I doing this gay thing wrong? Should I be less scared? More scared? Just all these ridiculous thoughts invaded my mind and none of them were any good.
 After that, I tried to ignore my friends. They knew my biggest secret and if I didn’t speak to them, then they never found out and it wasn't real. Unfortunately, that isn't how that works. I eventually called them to apologize and talk about it. Thank God they were understanding and didn't think I was a total jerk.
After that, I told one of my very best friends. She is a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community so I knew she would still accept me and love me. But I still wanted to throw up when I told her. I should know that my friends are still going to love me, I picked them. I only pick the best of the best, so I should know better. But the blood rushed to my head, by heart was going to beat out of my chest and my mind had planted the worst possible outcomes.Maybe it isn't okay that I am gay? Why I think I am so special is beyond me.But really, what if me being gay is not okay? Once I told her, it was fine. It is just that saying it part that really gets me, till this day!  
It took me awhile to say the word gay. I don’t know if you guys have heard of the Kinsey scale? If not, look it up. But I always just said I was a 4.5. Not gay, because if I said I was gay, then it was real and that sense of live or die comes at me full force and knocks me down. And every time I came out, my body and mind would just shut down. It was so tiring.It was like I had just ran forty miles and my soul, body, heart and mind were done and ready to shut off.
I came out to my best friend not knowing what her response would be. We had never spoken about gay people or what she thought of the LGBTQ community. I really thought that I wasn't going to  get to call her my friend after I came out to her.Even though I had made her promise me countless times that she loved me no matter what. And she would with no hesitation. But I still just felt a sense of doom. Other then telling me parents, telling my best friend was the hardest simply because I had no idea what direction it was going to take. For some reason I told her how I was a 4.5 at the office which we both work at, and we both just cried. I cried because I was expecting her to tell me to go away, and she cried because she couldn't believe that I would imagine such a thing. I felt like a huge ass, because really, why would this change anything? She was my best friend, and as previously stated, I only pick the best to be my friends. We went to a bowling party afterwards and she told me that this changed nothing and that she was there for me no matter what. It really couldn't have gone any better.
I am pretty sure I slept for two days after. After that,it was much easier to tell my other best friend. I told her in my Suburban on the way to go shooting. Looking back, that could have gone so bad; thank God it went super well. My soul was exhausted from all the coming out I had done that week, but it was happy. I had an amazing support system.
So through all of this, I am freaking out because I have no idea if my parents were still going to love me when they found out. I would have gay panics under my best friend’s kitchen table, at least three times a week. I would just sit there and cry and imagine my parents kicking me out and telling me to get lost. It was this huge weight that I would carry around everywhere I went. I remember watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode where Callie and Arizona are getting married. Callie’s mom just wanted no part in that and I would just cry. I would cry because, what if my mom didn't want to be part of my life? What if my mom thought I was some kind of sin? That is some pretty heavy shit to carry around, right? It sucked.
I came out to my brother like six months after coming out to my best friends. I was drunk so it was much easier for me than the other times. And he went to pride that year, so in my mind, it was going to be okay. I needed an ally, so when the time came to tell my parents he could fight on my behalf. He was so amazing. He told me that he loved me and that I need to be who I am and not care what other people think, then I paid for some nice McDonalds as we rode home from Salt Lake. He had picked me up from the worst gay clubbing experience of my life. Several girls tried to kiss me and first of all, I wasn't drunk enough and second of all, I was just not ready. Here I am,this 4.5 who can’t even say that she is gay, trying to club with people (who I assume) have dealt with this and accepted it. I stood no chance.
After coming out to my brother, I came out to my other boss and that was a crying fest,  I came out to a friend at Denny’s. I made a life plan that only a professor would see, and used it to come out to a friend. That was pretty funny because it was the first slide that came up and caught us all by surprise and then I came out to another friend via text, and every time, it was that sense of live or die, sink or swim. I would always be so tired and done with the world afterwards.
I started school and started going to group therapy again and tried to work through the horrible thoughts of being homeless and parent-less. I also worked on saying gay and not 4.5.
It took me a good year to build up enough courage to come out to my parents. I drove up the first weekend of February, and I started crying as I was passing Lehi. I live in Tooele, which is a two hour car ride with nothing but me and my horrible mind. I almost turned the car around twelve thousand times. But my group members had given me an epic pep talk and I was ready. I was ready to be myself around my parents. I was done being a coward long ago, and telling my parents was the ultimate sign of that. At this point, I had agreed with myself, that the worst case scenario would be that they need some time to deal and with time, I would once again be a part of my family. Tome that was better than being parent-less forever, but I didn't want my parents not to talk to me anymore. I didn't want them to see me any differently. I was still the same person, the only things that had changed where, the fact that I wanted to marry a woman not a man and I was a shit ton happier.
That whole car ride was just me trying not to throw up while doing a super illegal U-turn on the freeway. I have never felt such a fear for the unknown. It was a Friday when I had planned to tell them and I was also expecting to maybe need a ride back to Cedar after they took my Suburban and told me to get out. God blessed me with the best of friends who told me they would drive four hours to bring me home.
So I get home and I can barely speak. I walk in say hello and ask my parents to take a seat. I also grabbed a random bottle of tequila out of the cupboard and set it down on the kitchen counter. I really don’t know what I was thinking, but maybe I would need it or maybe they would, but probably we both would. I start telling them about my journey and how scared I have been, and then I just start crying before I can say it. But I finally get to what I needed to say, only to have them fill in the blank, because the word gay was not leaving my mouth. When they put it together the most amazing thing happens. They don’t kick me out, they don’t look at me with disgust, they look at me with confusion, yes, but not with disgust. My dad tells me how much he loves me and how this changes nothing, how he is with me no matter what and that he supports me in everything as long as I am happy and healthy. My mom just hugs me. And all that heaviness I had been carrying around leaves me. I am still nervous to see how things will play out from that moment forward, but I am full of relief. That could have gone so bad. I could have been left with nothing had they reacted differently, instead I was given so much more than I could have asked for. The rest of the day we went about business as usual and everything has been pretty much the same since then. And no one even touched the bottle of Patron.
I don’t think my body and spirit had ever been so tired. I just remember being so drained and exhausted. Sleep couldn't come sooner. I got to spend the rest of the weekend with my family and we spent more time together then than we had any time before. It was just a really liberating weekend for me. Looking back now, I can’t believe I thought they would react any differently. My parents are the most amazing people I have ever met. They have never showed me anything but love and support and I should have known that they would still love and treat me the same. To this day, the thing I am most thankful for is the fact that my parents still love me.
 After coming out to my parents, I came out on Facebook and in front of the meat section at Lin’s and at a SUU study room. And I still get nervous and feel like I am jumping out of a plane but now I feel much more equipped to land on my feet.
 It took me a minute to not despise this part of myself and to learn to love and embrace it. I was talking with a friend of mine who said that shame was when you felt that there was something that was preventing you from connecting to other people. I live to connect to others, and in my mind being gay prevented me from doing just that. I was so concerned that people wouldn't want to be my friend because I was gay, or that the only thing people would remember me by was the fact that I was gay. I didn't want my sexuality to define me. I am not my sexuality anymore than a straight person is theirs. Then there is this issue of some people wanting to take my right to marry away. And what about those other people who think my very being is a sin or a mistake? The fact that someone could say that about me really hurt me. I try so hard to be a good person and I still don’t understand how someone can say that about another human being. But at the end of the day,the people who matter, still love me and don’t think I am a sin or a mistake.My relationship with God hasn't ceased to exist because others think that I am not of God. As long as I know that I am loved by God and all the people He blessed me with, what strangers have to say doesn't really matter. "Because where do you think God is?"
There are still things I struggle with, like when is it appropriate to come out? When is it necessary? If I don’t tell people does that mean I am hiding? All these stupid questions that plague my mind so often.For me, it has become about enjoying the world around me and knowing that the people who matter still love me. I am supported and in no way held back by my sexuality. It matters because it is who I am and it was important for me to realize that in order to be the best version of myself, but it isn't important in the bigger scheme of things. I am still me…only happier.
Here is to all those people who are scared. Be brave and don’t be ashamed to be who you are.


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