By my junior year at boarding school, I was co-head of my Gay Straight Alliance. I felt the pressure and anxiety of having to continue the charade of liking girls, while leading the most homosexual club meetings on campus. The irony of being in a glass closet was hard to live with, let alone sustain. I needed to come out publicly.
I went to Indaba, the weekly open-mic night held within the school church. I had told my friends earlier my plan and the rumor mill spun. As I entered the building, the usual crowd of thirty students had grown to over a hundred and fifty. I sat down in the middle of the crowd with my friends, knowing that this attendance was directly for me. After a half hour, I finally stood and walked through the dark church toward the dim light of the podium. The crowd was shrouded in darkness. I was so nervous I was sweating through my Sperry’s. To the amusement of the audience, I began with recounting my past sexual escapades of the more heterosexual variety. Chuckles resounded through the church until suddenly I announced, “But…I’m really gay.” All sound died, with an unnatural silence that ensued. My words rushed out as I revealed my past shame, paranoia, cover-ups and ultimate acceptance. By the end of my speech, my voice resonated with some confidence; the burden was lifted off my shoulders. No one clapped, as is tradition at Indaba and I slowly stepped off in peace. Then the audience broke off, roaring with a standing ovation.
In the next three weeks, numerous people began to publicly come out at Indaba. I had started a trend on campus, breaking a wall of silence.