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Brett

February 2000

I really can't believe how much has happened since I wrote my last article. It feels like years have passed instead of only weeks. I'm going to break this month's column into three bite-sized pieces dealing with: coming out, the great new friends I've made, and last but not least the long-awaited rebirth of my social life.

Kicking the door open

When I left off last time I had finally decided start telling people I am gay and my friend Liz was going to be the first to know. I was pretty nervous during the ride down state and the fact that my brakes were starting to go out put me further on edge. Luckily we made it safely back to school and I asked her if I could come up to her room to talk. When we got there I was pretty much a bumbling idiot. I don't think she'd ever seen me that nervous so she knew something was up. Finally after failing miserably to vocalize any sort of coherent lead-in I just blurted it out, "Liz I'm gay." After building this moment up in my mind for so long I was certain that my announcement would instigate explosions, sirens and widespread pandemonium throughout Ann Arbor. At the very least I was expecting a chair to be tossed at me a la Jerry Springer. Alas no mayhem ensued and the only thing I received was a warm smile from my friend that conveyed her love and understanding better than words ever could. Later on she told me that she was happy I had decided to come out and wished me luck with the whole process.

The first week home from school I was up until 4:00 every morning reading, writing and dancing by myself while the rest of my family was in bed. Yes I dance by myself. I'm a loser. Anyway I sort of had an excuse this time as I was working on a couple of dance routines for New Year's. It's become a tradition that I perform some campy routine whenever I'm at a party with my friends. Last time we got together I did a silly rendition of "Soul Bossa Nova" from Austin Powers. Surprisingly, most of my friends haven't figured out that I'm gay. I'm not sure what I'd have to do for them to start wondering.

I was getting bored with just telling people I'm gay so I decided get creative and write a poem for my sister. I debated whether or not to include it but I decided against doing so because it's too depressing. Apparently the theme is more obscure that I thought because my sister had no idea what it's about. She did ask me if I am going to kill myself though. After assuring her that I wasn't I had no choice but to tell her flat out. She was pretty shocked at first and then she asked me when I "decided" this. This bothered me at first but I tried to calmly explain to her that I never chose to be gay. For the most part she seems OK with it. I had initially wanted to tell my parents before Christmas but she though I should wait until afterwards so I agreed.

My dad works nights so I knew that the time had come to tell my parents when he had some time off for New Year's. Luckily they decided to stay home instead of going to a movie and my sister was out with her boyfriend so it was a perfect opportunity to talk with them. They wanted to watch the copy of American Pie my sister had rented so I decided to wait until that was over. For some reason I have seen a ton of movies containing offbeat sexual scenes with my parents. We've watched everything from Boogie Nights to Pulp Fiction to John Water's Pink Flamingos. They thought American Pie was cute for its genre.

Afterwards my dad went to return the movie and I told my mom that I needed to talk with them when he got back. She immediately got a nervous look on her face and I knew that I should have waited until my dad got back. "You're not dropping out of school are you?" she asked. "Are you in trouble with money?" I just smiled and kept saying no to her questions but I could tell she was really getting concerned. She kept staring at me across the room as if she was trying to read what it was I wanted to tell her somewhere on my face. At one point she told me she was getting light-headed and I asked her if she was going to pass out. Then she asked me jokingly, "You're not gay are you?!" I smiled and nodded my head. She took a deep breath said "Oh my God" and nervously smiled back. For a few seconds we just stared at each other as a wave of happiness came over me. I knew from the look on her face that once she recovered from her initial shock that everything would be OK.

For the next few minutes I told her everything I had been preparing for the past month. I assured her that my sexuality was not a result of something that she or my dad had done wrong while raising me. I mentioned my studies of religion and homosexuality and offered to let her read the books I had on the subject. I discussed my philosophy of sexuality and relationships and thanked her for providing me with a strong fundamental sense of morality. I told her that I view my sexuality as a unique gift from God that, along with my other gifts, I appreciate and respect.

After our conversation my mom said she was comfortable with my sexuality and told me she loved me. Her main concern was for my safety. She also thought that my dad would take the news poorly. When he finally came home it seemed like it took him forever to come into the living room with my mom and I. I said to her, "Maybe he knows already and is avoiding us." She laughed and we waited as he finally came and sat down next to her. It was pretty awkward as we all looked at each other in silence. When I told him that I needed to tell him something he started up with the same questions my mom had asked. I stopped that quickly by just telling him. The next five minutes he became virtually comatose as I explained everything all over again. Eventually he told me that he was OK with it but it may take him some time to deal with everything. I assured him that this was normal and I took a long time to deal with being gay as well. My dad was also concerned with my safety and felt sorry that I had spent so much time and effort worrying about this.

Reaching out

Shortly after telling my friend Liz that I was gay I decided that I would be proactive and visit our school's LGBT office. While there I got some information about a support/social group for LGBT students at our school and decided to give it a try. The meetings are a lot of fun and I have met a lot of nice people as a result. Everyone was very supportive and were happy to share their coming out stories with me. It was also a new experience for me to see twenty or so gay students all in one place.

One of my goals during the whole coming out process has been to make as many new friends as possible. I don't think a day has gone by since then that I haven't met someone new. I've had the opportunity to talk with dozens of people from my school, my state and all across the country (with the help of Oasis). Making new gay and lesbian friends has been my primary focus recently but getting to know people in general is very important to me. By opening up to people and really listening to what they have to say we form a spiritual bond, exchanging parts of ourselves in the process. The insight, knowledge, and love exchanged transcend space and time. Without my friends I would be blind to the world around me and to myself.

Back to earth and onto the dance floor

When I got back from break I decided to visit our local gay club for the first time with a friend. It's kind of silly that I had never been seeing as I am a young gay boy who loves to dance. While waiting for more people to show up I ran into another friend from my support group. We danced for a while and he introduced me to a ton of new people. After he left to rest I kept on dancing my ass off. The atmosphere was very comfortable and I was able to float across the floor meeting a bunch of nice cute guys along the way. I didn't even mind when some guys tried taking my clothes off and grabbing my ass. While I may dance and dress slutty, I try not to act like it.

After the club shut down I was invited to a party in a nearby town. That was a lot of fun too and I got to see the boy I had been checking out at the club again. I didn't know that people had all gay parties but I wish there were more of them! It certainly cuts down on the, "I wonder if he's...?" Gay boys are much better dancers too.

The attention I received that night felt very good, even if it was only skin deep. I'm pretty self-conscious about my body and it was nice to hear someone tell me I am attractive. I have no problem noticing beauty in those around me but for some reason I needed the words of a stranger to acknowledge my own.

Final thoughts

I can't begin to explain how much happier I am after coming out. My parents were so cool with everything and I feel closer to them now than I ever have. I have and always will love my parents but now I have a greater appreciation for them as individuals. They have each shown me that they are capable of understanding and loving me for who I am, not for who they wanted me to be.

Right now I am looking for a boyfriend. I've come to realize that I need more than just physical intimacy in my relationships. I'm trying to be patient but sometimes it's hard to know if I'll find someone right for me. Until that happens all I can do is make myself beautiful from the inside out and hope someone notices.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send words of support and encouragement as I started my coming out process. It was really great to hear from so many people who could offer advice when I needed it. I love getting email so don't hesitate to drop me a line if you get a chance.

May you find peace and happiness in life,

Brett

bkrogh@umich.edu


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