It could be said that I had the most blissful coming out experience that any one person could have. The initiation of which would make any Greek Council member writhe at the lack of hazing. I "came out" to my family and my friends last August, a month without a single major US Holiday, but holding a name that is both ancient, and an honorific most high. Bear with me, I just woke up and rhetoric is coursing through my veins like a hot toddy at midday.
Coming out was my 18th birthday present to myself. I wrote a letter filled with all of my feelings of dread, mistrust, and a tiny bit of self-loathing, and a large dash of world loathing, to my Mother. My Mother was not hurt by the fact that I was gay, but she was devastated by the idea that I could conceivably believe that anything I could do, or become, would force her to hate me. When I talked to her a scant three days later, I cried so much I was sure that my tear ducts would dry up and shatter. It was like a flood gate had been opened, and in its initial stages there was a threat of flooding the low lands, but with her acceptance I knew I could control, and deal, with any blow that should come.
From that day on I made a crusade to tell each and every one of my friends that meant anything to me. Letters and email flew from this mountain fastness that I call home, deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, informing the world that another queer was emerging into the sunlight. Each letter, missive and phone call was met with support, laughter and acceptance. Not a single friend turned away, or had a harsh word to say. A few said that it would take some time, and some evaluating on their end, but the fact of my homosexuality would not be allowed to interfere in our friendship. If the holy Rapture could be channeled through the voice and feelings of one man, then I would have been the vessel.
It has been nearly a year since I came out. I have had boyfriends in the meantime, some good, some bad. I have found love, and the guy I am in love with now lives in Turkey during the summer, and calls me at least twice a week, and is planning on stopping in lovely Asheville, North Carolina on his way back to school in Mankato, Mn. (Of course my college is superior to his since it happens to be academically excellent, AND it is sexually free ---who'd a thunk it in North Carolina JesseLand?).
I thought the backlash and feelings about my sexuality had been dealt with by my friends, at the very least by my best friend of three years, but I was wrong. I returned to school last Tuesday, and the next day a letter followed. While I was at home in Minneapolis I noticed that the girl I had thought of as nearly a sister for three years was not responding to me, nor noticing me, calling me or hanging out with me like we had the summer before. At one time we were inseparable. Her letter informed me that by sharing with her the people that I was attracted to, I was a hormone. By relegating to her issues that dealt with homosexuality, such as DOMA, I was attempting to drag or convert her into taking up the "Gay" Agenda, and hopping on the homo Band Wagon.
She politely collapsed to preconceived ideals and emotions, and promptly informed me that until I returned to my "old" self, that we could only be friends at a distance. In that one instant, in that one letter of rejection I felt all the pain, hurt, and suffering that I thought I would feel as my friends rejecting me one by one, for a moment my fears resurfaced that I would be left alone, struggling against some unnamed shadow, and dying without a marker, or a tear shed, but that moment lasted for but a moment. I realized that she needed to do the growing, and that I had grown. She called it 'change'.
I realized in that one clear poignant point of time, just how dark the closet is. I realized that gays and lesbians are not the only ones that must come of out a closet. I realized that heterosexuals must emerge from the closet of their mind, and deal with realities, deal with emotions and people, and leave the shadowed half-images of cliché ideas and ideals that have sustained ignorance and hate since the inception of civilization.
From the pent up revulsion of a friend I found a will to seek out, root out, and call out the other fears and misconceptions that people around me may hold, so that they do not fester and become feverish sores that corrupt the mind, and end up causing more pain than is warranted. Take hope from any struggle, take strength from any defeat, rear yourself on the nectar of laughter, and propagate the propaganda of self-love, world-love, and the love of everything precious and bright that has had the courage to leave the closet behind.
Let your experiences be a lesson and a guide to those who are trapped in the closet because of their sexuality, and circumstance, or because they have become impounded by fears and ignorance-jailing themselves within the recesses of their own minds.