My coming out.

I usually don’t post too much personal stuff on my blog, but I thought this was important enough that I should make an exception. It has been one month now since I came out to my family. So I thought it would be a good idea to write up my story.

Realizing one’s own sexual identity is not always easy for every person. For me, it took quite awhile. My first crush was on this girl in 2nd grade, and I was too shy to talk to her, or even ask what her name was. At the time, of course, I didn’t fully understand the emotions involved. I knew only that she was too pretty to talk to or about, and that because I’d never felt that way about anyone before, I reasoned that I should probably hide those feelings, for the crime of being unusual.

Sociologically, I was a late bloomer, and kept my sexual naivete for a long time. I remember high school as being rather awkward, and not fully understanding the sexual humor that other students bandied about readily. They probably had only a touch more understanding than I did, but were likely far more comfortable posturing than I was.

I remember that one of my acquaintances in gym class confessed that he was a homophobe. Even though I did not yet know that I was gay, I thought that this is a rather ridiculous stance. It’s not that he was violent, it’s that the idea of some member of the same gender being attracted to him, made him very uncomfortable. To me this is really at the core of the debate concerning homosexuality and homosexual behavior: We’ve grown comfortable with the stereotypical portrayal of homos in movies, but many still harbor some level of discomfort with the idea once it goes beyond the screen and enters the real world.

Unlike some, I didn’t always know that I was gay. For me it took quite awhile to realize that I was a bit different from most others. At the tail end of high school I began to look at pornography. Of course, I started out by looking at the girls. Eventually, though I was compelled to follow where my curiosity led me. So, within a short while, I was looking at pictures of men. I thought that this was somewhat deviant, but the images appealed to me, and (being a computer geek) I was very much used to the anonymous safety provided by the internet. I excused myself by reasoning that it must be just a phase. I thought eventually the interest would wane, and I’d naturally switch back to looking at girls again.

I was able to keep that pretense for about 4 years, while I attended UCLA. During this time I also had another crush on one of my roommates. For most, this would be pure torture, for me it was quite tolerable. I got to see the guy everyday, work together with him on homework, and observe his interactions with his girlfriend. The friendship and intellectual companionship that came with studying the same material was enough for me, I didn’t have to ask him for more, and he never learned of my affection.

After graduating I went to work for 3 years. I still wasn’t ready to admit that I was gay yet, but I started to become more open about my interests. I watched many films, movies that features gay characters, focusing either on the coming out drama, or on the relationship that two men can share with each other. I also watched documentaries about gay portrayal in movies, and the intolerance sometimes shown by society. (I’d like to thank BBC for their courage to explore such politically sensitive topics in a realistic and very evenhanded manner). I excused this behavior has having a homosexual curiosity. I still find the topic to be intellectually fascinating, and certainly worth more exploring. Despite all the films and characters that I observed, I still never came to a grasp of “what it means to be gay.”

It wasn’t until this past year, that I was finally ready to admit to myself that I was gay. It began with first learning that my advisor was gay (actually a surprise to me, since I have no gaydar and didn’t pick up on it until the bigoted Prop 8 was approved). Then during the past summer, I used internet dating to find and meet with some other openly gay folks in the area. Just knowing that these people could live in relative comfort, without too much ostracization, gave me the courage I needed to come out.

Once I had the personal courage, I began to confide in my friends. None of them have shown me any bigotry or even disapproval. I think that my generation is much more tolerant of these issues than previous generations. We’re more open about our personal lives in general (sometimes to the extreme). Yet we also seem to have recognized that this openness requires us to be more tolerant of each other. Nevertheless, I’m probably quite fortunate to have such understanding friends. I’ve not really noticed any ‘weirdness’, or lasting awkwardness beyond the surprise shown when I reveal the news.

Based on that experience, I was ready to tell my family and parents. So last month, when we celebrated Christmas, I made the announcement at dinner. This seems to have shocked all but my sister. I get the feeling that there’s a bit of disappointment, though I’m not sure that I fully understand that. I find homosexuality to be much more interesting because of it’s relative abnormality: being hetero is just so ordinary. Still, my family has told me that they all still love me, and though it’ll take some adjustment, I think they also know that it doesn’t really change anything. I’m the same person I always was, and I’m not going to suddenly go playing with pink unicorns and dance around like a fairy while the very ground underneath my feet becomes a rainbow.

Mostly what I’ve learned, is that the question “what does it mean to be gay?” is a nonsense question. There’s no need to act or behave differently and there isn’t anything more fundamental to understand beyond the fact that your attractions are different from the norm. But, as Kinsey showed, these attractions are on a sliding scale anyway. There’s no need to even think of yourself as being different, nor do you have to identify with the stereotypes and cultural connotations.

I would characterize the entire ordeal as being both personally liberating and relatively uneventful: exactly the way it should be!