I came out at 27 in 2009.
I feel like such a loser saying that. I have a lot of younger friends who came out in middle school, in high school, college… but I really didn’t figure it out until then.
You see, it didn’t exactly strike me like a thunderbolt. I’ve been aware that I’ve had a thing for guys since… well, I started getting an interest in sex. But boobs to me are just as fascinating to me as cocks… ask a couple of my friends. I can get handsy; being gay is like my free pass to tits. Yeah, my sexual interest in boys has always been stronger… however, my intellectual and romantic interests had always been with girls, so for most of my life, I thought I was best labeled as bisexual.
Let me explain where I’m coming from. I blame Disney movies. I’ve been obsessed with them since childhood, and they had a dramatic effect on how I viewed the world. For me an ideal relationship involved all of the following things: a girl (often a princess) who struggles to fit into the world she was born into, a boy (often a prince) who represents or comes to represent archetypes of nobility and good, a villain who wants something that would keep the girl and boy apart, a sidekick or a set of sidekicks (preferably colorful in both artistic style and personality), and parental figures who just don’t understand their children or have unfortunately died before the story began. The plot is a grand adventure and ends with a happily-ever-after kiss.
I can’t even say that’s what I idealized, it’s what I idolized. There was no room for alternative romance or lifestyles in my love story, because damn it, I wanted my fairy tale bliss. And while some people often grow out of their romantic musings, mine just turned cynical and sarcastic over time.
In addition, I probably had the worst initial exposure to gay culture ever. I’ve been made fun of for being gay before I even knew what the word meant. It started with being teased without mercy in high school for my high pitched voice, intense sensitivity and for gay mannerisms that I don’t even realize I have half of the time. It was just me, but others decided I was gay before I even reached puberty. In addition, I was poor, short, nerdy, and had really thick glasses. I knew none of this really had anything to do with me, because my bullies never really focused exclusively on me. This teasing for being everything I was and couldn’t change turned my naturally introverted nature hermit-like. I rejected social acceptance and just decided to be the person I wanted to be by myself. But in many ways, I think I accepted their condemnation of homosexual lifestyles as being socially unacceptable, that there was something truly wrong with being gay. While I never felt the same pressure by the Christian community I belonged to, I knew that it also considered homosexuality an abomination.
Even when I started noticing boys sometime in high school, I think my negative views on homosexuality based on my religious values and childhood experiences repressed and twisted these desires. At first when I was exploring sexuality on an imaginary plane, I was constantly in some other guy’s body as I made love to the woman of my dreams. That all changed with porn. It started out perfectly straight, but I started to notice that I was interested in the guys just as much. But for me, gay porn seemed painful and unnatural. We weren’t supposed to use those body parts that way… and did I really want to stick my mouth on that? Don’t ask me that now. Unless you’re cute. Anyways, I assumed I was bisexual, bi-curious, whatever, and I decided that was okay to hide in the background and try to find the relationship with a woman I was searching for since that’s what I wanted on every level besides a lustful one.
After that came college and more negative exposure to gay culture. The first guy I ever had a crush on… he raped somebody. That “straightened” me out for a few years. My fourth year, someone was so convinced that I was gay (he knew about my bisexuality) that he offered to pay me to go out with him. My friends pressured (with added cash) me into it. Needless to say, it did not turn out well and I was straightened out further.
After my fourth year of school, a family crisis kept me from exploring my sexuality further. Prevent is too harsh of a word to describe it, but my mother developed a severe and chronic neurological disease that effected her behavior so severely we had to have her apprehended by the police several times. We had to deal with this situation for 3 years while I worked part time at a department store. Large portions of those years I’ve actually forgotten, but I remember relying on strong friendships and playing an obnoxious number of hours of World of Warcraft.
By the time that was all over, I was 25 and I finally moved out of my parent’s home into a crappy little apartment which I still live in and adore. It was a home after that impossible situation. Finally, I was allowed to look at porn in peace!
In addition, I became really good friends with a gay co-worker; this was my first close relationship with a member of the LBGT community. Our friendship formed out of hardships, even though our situations have never really been comparable. Part of me fell for him, but nothing ever happened between us. Thank god. It wouldn’t have worked out, but he’s still one of my best friends. Our relationship taught me a lot about being gay, things that I thought were solely personal experiences that weren’t such, and finally humanized homosexuality for me.
What’s more, when I met his then boyfriend, current fiancé, I finally got to see a gay relationship that actually worked. It wasn’t a story any more, it was true and as real as any straight relationship I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted (they’ve gone through a lot), but it was honest love. Even among my straight friends, I’ve only seen it maybe twenty times or so. It made me realize that I could still have love as a homosexual if I found the right person.
It still took me over a year to come out, but I began relaxing the straight persona I guess I had been giving off. I don’t think I was ever faking it like some people might believe of me; I was being true to who I needed to be at the time. Maybe it was shell, but if so, I needed its protection to become the person I am/I am becoming.
Two things pulled me out of the closet. My mean bitch (yet really good) friend called me out on it about a month beforehand. I just kind of looked at her, but she’s all sorts of perceptive and I think she saw it before I did. And the day (night actually) I realized it I was watching Rent. Not the movie, the recording from Broadway that came out a few years later. I had already seen it about a thousand times at that point, but this time two things struck me.
Even though Angel’s and Tom Collins’ relationship was no fairy tale it showed me the kind of love that I had truly been craving. Minus the cross-dressing.
The second was as simple lyric that I had loved from the first time I heard it, but meant something completely different that evening.
“Learn to love, or live in fear.”
I needed to start doing that. I emailed my closest friends before the movie was over, and told them that I finally knew who I was and who I really needed to be looking for.
So where am I now in my Disney dreaming? It turns out I’m a combination of the girl and the guy archetypes (a mix of Cinderella, The Beast/Price Adam, Belle and Aladdin, I believe). I have villains in the form of some my coworkers and a few people who seem to want some drama with me for no reason that I can discern. I have the colorful sidekicks, my friends are crazy. I have both the missing parent and one who doesn’t fully understand me. As for the plot, I have a unique ability to find wild and crazy adventures wherever I go. As for my happily ever after, I’ve mainly been kissing frogs, but I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting lips with a handful of princes who just weren’t the right one to share my palace. I’ll find Prince Charming though… or a least a few good hands to hold.