I think coming out was a fairly anti-climactic experience for me. There were no fireworks, there was no homophobia, and there weren't any negative reactions. Maybe we just hear about the experiences that are one extreme or another; positive or negative. Mine wasn't like that.
I suppose the first person I came out to was an acquaintance in high school. I was 17 or 18, and it was only a month or two before graduation. I had really been crushing on him, and thought he was gay. I asked him. He said 'no', then never spoke to me again. He was a perfectly accepting guy, but my social ineptitude in high school knew no bounds, and I made him uncomfortable in the worst of ways by asking that question.
That was the first experience, and the worst. Still, it taught me how to approach the subject with someone else. With subtlety.
My next experience was a full two years later, in my first week at college in upstate New York. It was a liberal environment, and the male to female ratio was skewed in my favor. More guys than girls. Who could ask for a better place to come out?
I was sitting at a table with three or four other people. All of them happened to be talking about being gay or bisexual, and eventually one of them casually asked if I was. He did it the right way (unlike myself, two years earlier). I said 'yes'. Amusingly, it hadn't been the answer he expected, and his jaw dropped.
"Wait, what? You're really gay?"
Apparently one of the witnesses to that event then told another friend of mine, who proceeded to spit out her salad and cry. She thought I was interested in her sexually, and it took her by surprise. We became best friends and laughed about it thereafter.
I've never had a real coming out experience with my parents, nor have I cared for one. I know they love me, and I know it doesn't matter to them whether I'm attracted to guys or girls. That said, they're not stupid, and they know I'm gay. I have a comical personality, and coming out generally precedes a serious discussion. If I came out to them officially, I'd probably just ask someone to pass the salt during dinner and say, "by the way, I like penis quite a bit, if you know what I mean."
If I'm in a serious relationship, I wouldn't hesitate to bring a guy home.
I think it's unfortunate that so many adolescents aren't comfortable with sharing such an intimate part of themselves with others, but of course I understand why. We all do. Most people probably know you're gay already. Even if they don't, the ones who truly care about you will either accept you straight away, or they'll come around.
Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that the fight or flight response was biologically designed to warn us of life or death danger, and that coming out shouldn't logically require that kind of anxiety. •
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