I wasn't going to write an article for this month. I've been falling away from "gay-activism", but I suddenly remembered why I was like that in the first place. This girl wanted me to write an article about me coming out for her website. Once I got to thinking about it I realized that the whole reason I came out was to help other people; to make them feel better about themselves. I have horribly forgotten that in the past two months. I always knew that I liked guys, I didn't really think much about it.
The only gay people I knew were off of Jerry Springer, and people from chat rooms always trying to solicit me to do things that I'm now morally opposed to. Great role models eh? Then about mid-summer of 1999 I met this one guy, we'll call him Confucius. He was so self-confident about being gay.
I talked to him on the phone every day. He was a great role-model to me, and he led me to the point that I could come out to my friends. My best friend since fourth grade, let's call him Buddha, was the first person I ever came out to. He took it really well, but as he put it, the little gears in his head had stopped turning for a while. At that point I was still terribly insecure about myself being gay.
Then school started, and besides from online people, only Buddha knew I was gay. After a couple weeks I got to know this group of girls well enough to tell them too. I was really paranoid about other people finding out that might use their knowledge to cause me harm, so I told them not to tell anyone else, and tried to enforce that wish with a paranoid-overzealousness (is that even a word?). Anyway.
I eventually got more and more friends, and I told more and more people I was gay. There was this one girl I always talked to in class, who to my surprise, already knew I was gay. No one told her, I certainly never told her, she just told me she thought she knew what was going on with me, and she was right.
By now it was about early November and almost all my friends knew I was gay. I was still incredibly paranoid about the wrong people finding out and spreading it around the whole school. This one girl, let's call her Lucifer, found out and was telling everyone. I was so pissed off and blinded that I turned on all my friends. Instead of trying to find a solution to my problem I turned on all my friends and accused them of telling her.
As it turns out, I never really found out who did, but it doesn't really matter. I found out why she was spreading it and she had a good reason to be angry at someone, she just thought that I was the one she should take revenge on when I really had nothing to do with the cause of her anger. During Christmas break, I watched "The Century" with Peter Jenning (I think). I watched the whole century go by in a miniseries. The one thing that affected me the most was when I saw a young student who was shot point-blank in the head by a Chinese Army troop. I realized that my paranoia was completely unfounded, and that these people were willing to die for what they believed in. How could I hide like that and not be a coward?
I realized I had a lot of friends, good friends. I decided that I didn't want to accuse them of trivial things. I decided that I should use my situation to help other people, and that's what I did. I completely lifted my ban on telling people I'm gay, and it was wonderful. It reminded me of the fall of the Berlin Wall. My self-confidence probably quadrupled in a couple of weeks. Hearing people talk about me in the hallways, once something I would have freaked out over, now made me chuckle to myself. Although I still had a journey to rid myself of self-manifested paranoia, I was more free than I had ever been before. I learned that I could speak my opinions on anything and have a right to them. I learned that not everyone in this world is bad, and most importantly, I learned that I could help people in simple ways.
The rate of suicide among GLBT teenagers is staggering. If I would have had a role model, someone who was gay and out, my life would have been so much easier. I can't go back and change the past, but I can be a role model for people who are insecure. I can be a pillar of strength, and take all the barrages, all the criticism, and all the hate from the people who are homophobic, and it doesn't bother me at all. As I see it, we are all brothers and sisters, and if there is too much homophobic pressure around someone for them to come out, then maybe I can come around and relieve a little of it and maybe, just maybe, save them from committing suicide or feeling all alone.
By the way, a few people have criticized me for using a pseudonym while being so anti-homophobic. It's not to protect my "gayness" and keep me in the closet, it's more to protect me from friends who might read this. I realized that it is much easier to write freely and truthfully if you know that your friends, parents, and ex-boyfriends etc. aren't going to stumble onto it and read something about themselves and get pissed about it or something. I mean seriously, I'm not that careful about protecting my identity. I always forget to sign my e-mails with Zach and write my real name instead, but that's enough with that.
Sometimes I forget why I came out in the first place and I need to be reminded, so I'm always here if anyone wants to talk. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org so feel free to throw questions, comments, criticisms, concerns, problems, or anything else you can put in an e-mail at me.