In my most recent blog post titled, Average Booted Biker in the ‘Burbs, I said
Coming out to yourself and eventually to others does not change the man you have been all along.
I would like to refine that statement.
Actually, coming out as gay to yourself and then to others does change the man you are and will be in the future. Here’s how…
Speaking for myself, there were three stages in my life as a gay man:
1. Born gay. I did not realize that I was gay until about age 23. (I was a late bloomer and in denial.)
I seriously did not know myself when I was growing up. I thought I should like girls and women, and I dated them. Nothing ever happened. I was never interested in even getting to “first base” with any female. I began to think that I was different, but did not really know why.
2. Came out to self but denied it to others — closeted — until about age 33.
During this period, when I went out socially, I went with groups. I occasionally dated women once in a while, but strictly on a platonic, friendly basis. I was busy completing graduate school, rebuilding my first house, and going through the growth gyrations that newbie professionals do in the working world, which included lots and lots of travel. But honestly, I still mostly was in denial about my sexuality. Also, the AIDS crisis (1980s) scared the livin’ bejeebers out of me, which is another reason that I did not go to gay bars or try to meet men.
3. Out. Fully.
My twin brother figured it out long before I did. But when I met the man I eventually would marry when I was 35 and invited him to visit my family and attend social functions with me, that’s when others in my family and social circles realized that I was gay. However, I remained quiet about it (mostly closeted) at work.
I left that job when I was 47 and in my new working world, I was fully out. I no longer hid my sexual orientation or that I lived with a man who was, for all practical but not legal purposes, my husband.
When I did that — became “fully out” in my entire life — with family, socially, and at the office — I did change. I changed in the sense that I was more relaxed and comfortable with who I was. I was not afraid, hiding, or being ultra-careful about what I said and to whom. I was more honest and open, and that restored my sense of personal integrity. I also put myself in a position where I could not be blackmailed, so the result was an easier ability to obtain a higher security clearance. Go figure.
Then we married during the first year that our state made it legal for us to do so. From then on, I’m just an average married booted biker in the ‘burbs. Same guy, but much more relaxed and honest guy moving forward.
Life is short: coming out makes you a better person.