Oprah, Rap & Naked Yoga: One Gay Man’s Coming Out Journey to Finding His Community

by Daniel

Hi, I’m Daniel, from Houston, Texas. 


When I was 11 years old, I was at my aunt’s house and my mom happened to be watching an episode of Oprah. I noticed it was about gay men that had married women who were basically trying to live a double life or hide it from themselves. So I went over to go sit down next to my mom and watch it with her. When the episode ended, all she did was turn to me and say, “Hey, Daniel. So what did you think about that episode?”

I immediately burst into tears and ran into the other room. My mom came over and just asked me how I was doing, “So do you think you’re like those men on the Oprah episode?” 

And I said, “I don’t know, maybe.” I had a discussion with my mom back and forth. I remember the conclusion was along the lines of, “Maybe it’s just a phase. I don’t really want to talk about it.” So I was kind of left at that. But one thing I do remember is, my mom never judged me. She seemed very supportive in the way she was doing it. So that felt good.

By the time I was 18, I had just graduated high school and went to UT in Austin. and I started looking up all the gay things to do. So one of the things that I found there was this club called Hangout. So I remember going to the first meeting, and for some reason, my heart started pounding because now, for the first time, I’m going to be in a room, around other men like me. I was being my authentic self for the first time in my life. I was super excited about it.

Very quickly, when I started talking about my interests, I was saying things like, “Oh, I like rap music. I like cars.” It wasn’t really overt. It was just very kind of sarcastic remarks like, “Oh, are you sure you’re gay? You should turn in your gay card.” And I’ve realized very quickly that I was once again a little bit of an outsider in the group.

"Oh, are you sure you're gay? You should turn in your gay card."

So I went a little bit back into my shell, but I would hear comments on a pretty regular basis about who I was when we were talking about things like top and bottom. I remember guys saying that, and I was like, “I don’t think I’m either one of those. What do they mean?” 

He was like, “Oh, you’re probably a top.” 

I was like, “Okay, sure.”

I remember distinctly us going out to see a movie together, and I was sitting across from one of the members, and they were talking about feminine guys or something like that, being flamboyant, being femme. 

I said, “That’s just not me. That’s not who I am.” And I remember distinctly the guy across from me. 

I remember he looked at me and said, “You’re just insecure.” I remember feeling very upset internally. It’s like how these guys are judging me for being who I actually am and saying I’m not being my authentic self. 

After college, I let my association with any gay men dwindle because I was kind of tired of those comments. Fast-forward a few years, and I am now dating someone, and I’m in my late 30s, so now I’m feeling a lack of connection with my community. Shortly after that, COVID hits. So now I’m realizing very quickly that I’ve missed out on a lot of social interactions. 

The guy I was dating said, “Why don’t you just get on the apps?” 

And I said, “Why do I want to get on te apps? The guys are just on there for hookups.” 

And he said, “It is what you make of it.” So I thought, Yeah, he’s really right. So I got on all the apps, made sure I was fully clothed on the app so people weren’t getting the wrong idea. But I reached out to guys all around the world, and I remember the connections I was making. I was thinking after talking with a lot of these guys, like, Hey, I feel a lot more connected with these guys than when I did when I was in my 20s. They were telling me things like, “Oh yeah, I listened to rap music too. Oh, you like video games? I like playing video games. I like going on hikes.” So I felt a lot more commonality there.

So as the pandemic started to slow down, I started meeting up with these guys that I’d met online. To this day, I’m in contact with several of them. There’s some great friends that I have from meeting this. 

But not everything is perfect because some of those things did come up again. I now know that the term is called a side. To this day, I’m still getting guys that say, “Are you a top or bottom?” And if I don’t have an immediate answer for that, they’re telling me, “What’s wrong with you? Maybe you haven’t done it right.” And all excuses, other than, “Maybe I’m just not into it.” But overall, I’m very happy with where I am right now. I’ve made a lot of connections. I have a lot of gay friends.

One of the things I also like doing is going to a place called Hippie Hollow, which is a clothing-optional park here in Austin where a lot of gay men are just open and free and naked together. I also go to Austin Naked Yoga, just a bunch of guys in a room. It’s a very safe male space. We’re all naked, and no one makes a big deal out of it, and it’s a very freeing feeling. 

I’m having friendships where I can be my true authentic self with no judgment, and that’s great. But I really feel like I’m living my best gay life now. There’s always someone for everyone. So just find the people that you want to be with, and connect with people who are like you, and build your own community.

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