I was 22 and sitting in the living room of my house at college with two of my best friends, who I’ll call Jack and Kate. I was also entirely closeted with no plans to come out–in fact, I was set on settling down with a woman and starting a family–but that afternoon in the living room changed my plan completely.
I forget exactly how the conversation started, but something forced the response: “Because her dad’s gay.”
I stared at Jack for a moment and then at Kate for a while, wondering where the joke was. But they weren’t laughing. I knew Kate’s family had been having a tough time the last few years and that her parents absolutely hated each other, but it never occurred to me that… “No, really, my dad’s gay. He came out last Thanksgiving. That’s why my parents divorced. He has a boyfriend now.”
I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, “Well, good for him.”
“Yeah, well, my parents hate each other now, but at least we don’t have to put up with them together anymore.”
I realized then, as I averted my gaze and softly nodded, how much pain that situation had caused her. I remember her coming back to school the summer after sophomore year. She’d gained some weight and had been seeing a therapist, even took medication for depression. At the time, I didn’t understand why. She had explained that her parents were getting divorced, which is reason enough, but not enough for me. I knew how strong Kate was. She certainly was at least as strong as I was, and my own parents’ divorce hardly shook me.
Then I thought about what I was planning to do with my life. That was me: I was a young version of Kate’s dad. And I just knew that somewhere down the line of my life, I’d grow sick of the lies and become anxious to live the life I’d have been suppressing for years and years and years. I couldn’t live that life; I couldn’t play those games with my family. I had to be honest: I had to come out.