Make sure to catch up on all the other coming out stories here.
“Nah, I can’t be g*y…I just have to find the right woman…yeah, that’s it…”
If you say it to yourself enough times, you’ll believe it.
Too afraid to face my truth for fear that God would hate me, and too afraid to face the few friends that I worked hard to have, silence was my only option.
At 16, two strands of life were developing for me: a personal one, and a professional one. Personally, I felt different than every other 16 year-old I knew. I wasn’t interested in the same things that I saw other 16 year-old kids were into: sports, cars and girls; I was into music and boys. My interest in music was rooted in the construction and production of music, more so than the composition of it. I wanted to be a recording engineer, and I wanted to be on the radio. As far as my interest in boys, I constantly dismissed the feelings I had and delved further into my music, because all of the gay boys I saw were effeminate. I was attracted to some of the boys I had befriended who were finding their masculinity, but it seemed wrong to try and be with them.
Professionally, I wanted to make a career of my personal interests. As I moved from 16 on up to 19 and started going to college, my interest in Rap music was starting to get stronger. I was able to separate my interest in men from my interest in music, until a male Rap star graced the television screen. Further, the culture of Rap is very homophobic. Even as I type this, I as a self-professed gay man am still not ready to hear an openly “Gay Rapper”. I certainly want no part of a gay Rap movement either, because my sexuality isn’t the first thing I want people to know about me. Rap was always entertainment to me. I don’t really believe the stories that rappers tell in their songs, I just applaud their ability to tell lies very well. The types of things that the male Rap stars I adored rapped about were how they found other women attractive and what they wanted to do with them. As weird as it sounds, in Rap, I could fully accept men talking about women in ways that I can’t accept hearing about other men. I mean, they were lying anyway, right?
Having hid behind my music and first career choice all through my 20′s, aside from one unsuccessful experience at an after-hours club at 27, I had never been with a woman. I got more feelings from seeing male physical features and I wasn’t attracted to women at all. I felt like I could be their friends, but sexually I just wasn’t interested. I had heard rumors of other gay men who had been with women to help them figure themselves out, but I was too afraid to get women involved in my mess of a life. Being uncomfortable with the main act that most gay men do didn’t help me either, but I couldn’t get past that idea of actually being with a man. I had also never been involved with a man because I was too afraid of being caught by someone I knew. If I was out and about on a date, what if some friend or family member saw me? What would they think?
In an attempt to understand myself, to find someone to be with and to deal with the increasing loneliness and desire to have someone in my life romantically, in 2007, I started to explore my sexuality by asking questions of other homosexuals. I had debates electronically with these people letting them know that I wasn’t afraid of them, yet, afraid to admit that I was one of them. The debate topics ranged from gay adoption to my disagreement with the word “homophobia”. Of course, I was defensive and relying on twisted logic to justify my homophobic thoughts, but I saw no fault in it at that time. Still working on Rap music, I released my first album in 2008 at the age of 33. I began the next step in exploring my sexuality by starting one-on one online communication with another gay man who had shown some interest in me. After my experience with this man, I started reading, listening and watching materials that dealt with homosexual issues. The movie “Milk”, the documentary on the life of Harvey Milk, “For The Bible Tells Me So”, and the podcasts and columns of Dan Savage are all things that changed my life and perspective. For the first time in my life, I was seeing gays who lived past the sexual aspect. I believe that God put these things in my path to show me that I wasn’t alone. I talked to God about it through prayer. I expressed the desires of my heart. At that point, I had started to distance myself from regular church service because I was feeling disconnected from it for different reasons, but I still had a strong connection to God through the help of my pastor who always taught that knowing God “is about relationship – not religion”. I was okay with that, but I still felt unresolved in my sexuality, and I had questions: Why did the experience I had feel right if gay is wrong? Why don’t I feel this way about a woman?
The year 2009 became a year that I will never forget. After all the years of living a double life online, fearing that the two worlds would clash horribly if anyone from one world met people from the other, I finally began my process of coming out. First, I came out to the one female friend I had in college that I saw myself possibly being with when I denied my sexuality, then I came out to my mother and sister. From there, I slowly started having that conversation with the close friends that I had made within the past 10-15 years. Surprisingly, all of them accepted me. Slowly, I gained the courage to come out to more people. As I continued slowly coming out to my friends, 2010 approached. I moved to Chicago to finish school, and I started attempting to date and meet more men. I submitted a draft of this paper to the website “I’m From Driftwood” in an effort to slowly come out some more, and I showed the piece to other homosexuals that I had previously argued online with about sexuality, while attempting to atone for the horrible things I had said to them. On October 11th, 2010, I officially came out online to the 200+ people that I had befriended on Facebook. Aside from that, I have still resolved to continue to be private about my sexuality, but if asked, I won’t lie about it, so I guess I’ll be “coming out” for a while. There are still some of my family members who don’t know, but in accordance with living what I believe is my truth, I will risk losing those relationships if this topic comes up and they disagree with who I am. I feel closer to God because I’m living my truth now.
If there’s a moral to this story, it’s this: truth always rises to the surface. Fighting it may delay it, but it will eventually rise. We all have truths that we refuse to deal with in our lives, but accepting them is how the bruises in our lives begin to heal.
Editor’s Note: Back in July, contributor to The New Civil Rights Movement, J. Rudy Flesher, wrote for this blog, “I’m From Driftwood,” a review of the project. It’s a good read, with some excellent videos!
Remember, there are always options.
The Trevor Project: a 24-hour hotline for gay and questioning youth: 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
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