Two very different coming out stories, and a reflection on mine

Tragic Coming Out Story:

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Coming Out to Grandma:

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No one’s coming out goes exactly the same as any other. The fear that the guy talks about in the first video (and the anxiety you can see on the young woman’s face in the first part of the second) is very real. Even in 2015, 40% of homeless teen-agers are homeless because they have been kicked out of their homes by parents because they are gay.

I tried to come out to my best friend—a guy I loved like a brother—dozens or more times. Because we were both attending fundamentalist evangelical churches, I tried to ease us into the conversation. But every single time that even a hint of the topic of non-heterosexuality came up, he would instantly go into “Gross! Sinful! All homos go to hell!” mode with such vehemence, it’s amazing I wasn’t physically hurled from the room by the strength of his condemnation.

Ironically, when I finally did come out years later, he insisted that the reason he was ending our friendship was not because I was “an unrepentant homosexual” (his words), but rather because I told someone else before I told him. He was also one of the people who insisted emphatically that he had never, ever, ever suspected at all that I was gay before I came out.

I don’t believe that statement, either.

Several relatives and close friends from back then made equally insistent denials of ever suspecting. Of course, one of those people was my Mom. And when one of my aunts found out Mom was claiming she had never suspected, that’s when the aunt informed me that beginning when I was about 14 years old, she and my mom and several ladies from church had begun meeting once a week to pray my gay away. I also was informed by one of the former board members of the evangelical touring teen choir I had been involved with as a teen-ager that it had been explicitly known that one reason I wasn’t given solos or put into one of the small ensembles for the first many years I was active in the group was because the leadership was certain I was “struggling with the sin of homosexuality.”

They were correct in that I was struggling mightily to stop feeling attracted to other guys. But unlike a lot of the guys who they did put into leadership positions and gave solos to, I wasn’t acting on my feelings. I wrote about one of those cases, but he wasn’t the only queer boy in the group fooling around with other guys back then.

I’m glad that more people are getting reactions like the second video: “I always knew. Were you afraid to tell me?” But far too many queer people have plenty of reasons to fear rejection (and worse) from their own families and friends if they admit who they are. And that’s just wrong.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live in Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

5 responses to “Two very different coming out stories, and a reflection on mine”

  1. geojlc says :

    Thank you for sharing some of your story. I’m sorry we don’t live in a world where it’s ok to be the person you are. I’m glad that things are changing, and I hope we can change them even more!

    • fontfolly says :

      Reactions like the grandmother in the second video still make me cry. What all hope is that that would be the expected reaction that everyone will get.

  2. raybarnhart1968 says :

    Is it just me or is there a possibility that the friend who cut ties with you was struggling with his own sexuality?

    • fontfolly says :

      We were inseparable for several years, and he never once pinged my gaydar. That said, we’ve all known plenty of extremely vehement ‘phobes who eventually were caught as closet cases, so I understand the suspicion.

      I think it was very clear that he was afraid people would think he was gay because he and I were so very close. And maybe he was so afraid of that precisely because he’s at least a bit bi or bi-curious and felt horribly guilty about that. I can’t say.

      Because he happens to be married to a demi-cousin, I still hear about things happening in their lives. But it’s all through intermediaries, so it’s not enough to make any conclusions about how happy he is with his life. I do miss him. But not enough to put up with the homophobia.

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