Tag Archives: Coming Out

21 THINGS I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME WHILE I WAS IN THE CLOSET

gay blog gay lifestyle gay bloggerThe closet is a very scary and lonely place for gay people. At a time when you need help the most, you are too afraid to reach out, for reaching out means admitting something that feels so shameful. Opening up to another person also places you in a terrifyingly vulnerable position. How will they react? What will they say?  Who will they tell?

For anyone still in the closet or for anyone who may want to support someone who has not yet come out, here is the list of 21 things that I wish someone had said to me while I was in the closet:

  1. You are loved
  2. There is nothing wrong with you
  3. You are normal
  4. This is not a phase
  5. This is not a punishment
  6. Your true friends will stay by your side and those that don’t were never your true friends
  7. Your family will love you no less
  8. Those who hate you are ignorant and scared
  9. There will come a time when your sexuality will not be your most defining characteristic
  10. You are destined for great things
  11. You will fall in love
  12. You’ll discover that the guy who bullied you was dealing with his own demons
  13. You are created in the image of God. God doesn’t make mistakes. God is perfect, therefore you are perfect
  14. You cannot pretend to be someone who you’re not – it’s exhausting
  15. You don’t have to conform to a stereotype
  16. You will find amazing inclusive communities where your sexuality is of little consequence
  17. You don’t have to be lonely
  18. You don’t have to be scared
  19. Everything is going to be ok
  20. A burden will be lifted off your shoulders once you accept yourself
  21. You will never regret coming out of the closet

Anything else you wish someone had said to you while in the closet? Leave it in the comments.

Image Credit: Exterface

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WHY COMING OUT IS SO HARD YET SO REWARDING

gay teen blog

Today we observe National Coming Out Day and to mark the occasion, here is a list of 8 reasons why coming out is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do and yet the most rewarding.

  1. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-workers a secret about yourself that you feel ashamed of… yet once you come out that shame begins to fade away
  2. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-wokers a secret about yourself without knowing how they may respond… yet their responses may pleasantly surprise you
  3. You have to reveal to people a part of your identity that may be at odds with their personal beliefs… yet their beliefs may actually make them more tolerant
  4. The first people that you come out to are often straight and can’t empathise with your experience… yet straight allies can make for the most powerful allies
  5. You may live in an environment that does not make it safe for you to come out… yet when you’re old enough or independent enough to remove yourself form that environment you will find people to help protect you
  6. You feel trapped by your fears, insecurities and worries while you’re still in the closet… yet when you come out you realise that the things that frightened you the most never happen
  7. You feel like you’re always pretending while you’re in the closet… yet when you come out you can be your true self
  8. You feel like a coward for not having the courage to come out… yet coming out is one of the bravest things you will ever do

Image by Exterface Studio

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MODERN GAY PERSPECTIVE: MY COMING OUT STORY

coming out gay modern gay stories

What would a gay blog be without a personal coming out story? Following on from my post “43 Lies I told myself while in the closet“, in my latest YouTube video I talk about how I came out to my parents and it may not be the way that you would expect.

There is no right or wrong way to come out of the closet. It can also feel like there may never be a right time. While I was out to my friends, sister and colleagues, I still found it difficult to tell me parents. Perhaps it was the fear of disappointing them or perhaps it was the fear of the unknown? It can be scary to reveal a significant part of your identity to the people you care most about but eventually there is a tipping point, a moment in time when keeping it a secret feels more daunting than telling the truth.

Click here to view my story on YouTube or to subscribe to The Modern Gay channel.

Image  by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

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43 LIES I TOLD MYSELF WHILE IN THE CLOSET

The proverbial ‘closet’, a dark place of shame, doubt and fear where almost every gay man and woman begins their journey. We keep ourselves locked deep in that closet, telling ourselves stories about why it’s safer inside than out. We tell these stories until the day comes when we have the courage to see them for what they really are, lies.

This is the list of 43 lies that I told myself while in the closet.

Modern Gay 43 lies I told myself in the closet

The Modern Gay has expanded to YouTube! Please subscribe to The Modern Gay Guide to Life for extended personal content and don’t forget to tweet me @moderngay so that I can answer your questions.

 

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MODERN GAY PERSPECTIVE: COMING OUT IN IRAQ

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Coming out of the closet can be one of the hardest and most daunting moments in the life of a GLBTI person. Not knowing how your family and friends are going to react, coupled with the fear and vulnerability that comes with revealing something so personal and intimate can delay or even prevent a person from ever revealing their true self. While there is no right or wrong way to come out or a full proof step-by-step guide, sharing our stories can help others in similar positions. Here is a short story from Amir*, a young gay man from Iraq who asked to use this blog as a platform to share his experience.

This is my story. My mother and father broke-up when I was a child. I have always felt that I’m different and not like other boys. When I went to school I was always the weak boy and all the other boys called me a “fag” or a “girly boy”. My mom and my brother would say similar things. My brother used to hit me all the time, called me a “fag” and told me that I should be with girls. After a few years someone tried to rape me but I managed to stop him. When I told my mom about what happened she said, “you are the reason (it happened), you are the problem and I am so ashamed because of you”. I have always hid the pain inside of me. When I walked down the streets and heard boys calling me a fag, I smiled as if I hadn’t heard anything but I was constantly thinking about killing myself. My two best friends could always tell that I was different and when I told them that I was gay they were very supportive. I always thank God for them. I love them so much. After a few years I fell in love with a boy from my school but I didn’t tell anyone. Then I decided to come out to my family. I knew that I was probably not ready but I had had enough of the constant fear inside of me. I told my sister first. She wasn’t that surprised and she told me that I was too young to know what I like. Then I came out to my whole family. My mom said very horrible words to me and so I decided to kill myself. Luckily my two best friends called me and reassured me that death was not worth it and that there was still a lot of happiness waiting for me. I’ve always told my family that I will leave them one day and that I will live my life in happiness. Despite everything, I’m so happy now and coming out was the best thing I have ever done in my life. Now I’m waiting for my rainbow to shine.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the author

To share your story please contact josh@joshvansant.com.

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RULE NO. 23: YOUR PARENTS DID THE BEST THEY COULD

Bernard Fouquet Modern Gay

When I was 14 my dad took me on a father and son snowboarding trip. The drive from my home to the mountains was over 7 hours and during that time our conversations touched on various topics. I had always had a great relationship with my parents and talked openly with my dad about sex, his sexual experiences and girls. We had never spoken about homosexuality; until that point I hadn’t considered that I might be gay. A few months before my 14th birthday I had started thinking about boys and an older kid at my school had asked me if I was gay. Not knowing what any of this really meant I decided to broach the topic with my dad during our extended car trip. I loved asking my dad questions about sex and dating and being a reformed playboy, he had a lot of tantalising stories to share.

“Dad, how do I know if I’m gay?” I curiously asked. Taken aback, he answered with a very involved and convoluted explanation, using analogies and metaphors that were somewhat confusing for a 14 year old to decipher. He finished his explanation with the statement “although I’ll be disappointed if you’re gay, I will always love and support you”.

I realised two things from our conversation 1. by my fathers explanation and reasoning, I was definitely not gay and 2. that if I ever was to be gay then I would be a disappointment to my father. The latter realisation was particularly troubling as I had always been taught that family was the most important thing and therefore disappointing the family was for me, an unimaginable act of disrespect.

Looking back on that formative conversation I’ve realised that my father was simply handling the situation in the best manner that he knew how. While his explanation would have been understood much better had he just said that being gay meant that a boy liked a boy in the same way that other boys likes girls, he was obviously trying to protect to me.

Although I’m fortunate to have parents who now support and love me regardless of my sexuality, I understand that other people have had much more trying experiences with their families. Whether your parents have dealt well with your coming out or have responded negatively, it’s important to understand that their response is based on their own experiences and their own capability to deal with the situation. Their opinions and values may be based on religious or cultural beliefs or they may not understand what it means to be gay. Whatever their response, one must realise that we cannot change the perspectives of others. What we can do is try empathise with them and see things from their perspective in the hope that they will learn to empathise with us too.

The thought of disappointing  my parents prevented me from coming out to them for much longer than I would have anticipated. When I realised what that disappointment actually meant, I found the confidence to finally tell them. They weren’t disappointed in me as a person, they were disappointed that the life that they had imagined for me wasn’t going to be, and that was OK. They were entitled to that disappointment and even then, those feelings were dealt with and forgotten faster than I anticipated. Once we come out, no matter how our family responds, we must give them space to come to terms with the situation. This may take days, months or even years.

Often I wondered, to the point of resentment why my parents had never asked me if I was gay. It would have been so much easier had they just approached me at 15 and asked me the question rather than waiting for me to come out. This resentment was intensified one evening at a restaurant when my dad pointed out to me a table of good looking men who were clearly gay and jokingly said “there’s some boys for you”. I responded with “if your gaydar is so good then how come you never asked me if I was gay”? to which he responded that he had always known but wasn’t sure how to approach the topic without upsetting me.

Obviously the past cannot be undone but I now see that my parents dealt with the situation the best way that they knew how and with that realisation comes a sense of peace.

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RULE NO.21: YOU’RE NEVER FULLY OUT OF THE CLOSET

Gay Men Coming Out

If you thought that coming was a one time event, you were wrong. We are consistently required to enter and exit the metaphorical closet.

Two recent events reminded me that when it comes to letting the world know that you’re gay, you’re never truly “out”. The first incident was during a university lecture on E-Commerce. The lecturer was discussing self published websites and asked for all those in the audience who had their own blog to raise their hands. A small number of people responded including myself.  The lecturer managed to lock eyes with me even though I was seated in the far back.

“Tell us about your blog” he instructed.  Now, I’m sure avid readers have realised from previous posts that I’m very open about my sexuality but when it came to describing the nature of my “gay blog” to 200 complete strangers, I was reluctant.

“It’s about being a 20-something in the modern world” I sheepishly replied.  At the time, I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for me to come out to a theatre full of people that I didn’t know so I omitted the most important characteristic of my blog so as not to reveal my sexuality.

The second incident was one that occurs on a recurring basis. I was seated next to an older gentleman at a work dinner a few months ago. Our conversation was brilliant as we transversed topics such as sports, politics and food. It was sometime during dessert when he brought up the topic of marriage and how his daughter (who just so happens to be in my E-Commerce class) was recently engaged to her long-time boyfriend. “Have you got a wife or a girlfriend?” he questioned.

“I’m single” I responded.

“What do you think about marriage” he asked, “is it on the cards in the future?”.

At that moment I could have easily begun my political rant about gay marriage and how although I would like to be married one day, as a gay man it is currently illegal in Australia. But I didn’t. Again, I did not feel that the situation called for my coming out.

“One day, I hope” I said and proceeded to change the topic back to a more neutral category.

Gay men face situations like these on a daily basis whether it be at university, family functions, starting a new job, making new friends or any moment when you’re introduced to someone unfamiliar. Society continues to presume that we all subscribe to the heteronormative  roles that we’ve been unwittingly assigned and chances are that these views aren’t going to change drastically anytime soon. This means that we will constantly be placed in situations where we will need to choose how much of ourselves we reveal to others.

Sexuality is a private matter and I don’t believe it’s always necessary or even appropriate to reveal to everyone you meet that you are gay. Although I believe that gay pride is crucial to ensuring self-esteem, it’s important to realise that not every situation calls for a dramatic Jack McFarland entrance. Of course we must speak-up if we witness homophobic behaviour in our immediate environment and I believe that this particular situation calls for a degree of bravery that we may be unprepared for.  Generally speaking though we should feel comfortable with whom we decide to share our sexual identity before we reveal ourselves.

While I honestly believe that we should always be true to ourselves, we must be prepared that our coming out did not end after we took those first steps out of the closet and it is our ongoing decision who we tell that we’re gay and who we don’t.

Image by Kwannam Chu

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RULE NO.11: YOU WERE BORN THIS WAY

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Throughout puberty I wondered “why am I gay?”

Before Lady Gaga confirmed that she was born this way, before Kurt Hummel vocally expressed his problems 3 octaves higher than most 16 year old boys and before any celebrity promised that it would get better, I was a confused teenager trying to understand why I was gay.

Attending a conservative private school that prescribed to a certain Judeo-Christian religious persuasion, homosexuality was merely a subject in a health book that was superficially brushed over one afternoon in grade 9. This particular book claimed that teenagers often experienced passing attractions to the same sex as a byproduct of hormone release. I wished that when the hormones stopped releasing so would my my same-sex attraction. It wasn’t to be.

Needless to say, my understanding of homosexuality was rather limited.

Furthermore, my belief and comprehension of God was shaped by my educational institution and by all accounts, God didn’t approve of gays. So why did he make me gay?

At first I thought he was punishing me for something I may have done before I was even born. Perhaps my soul was intrinsically bad and therefore I needed to suffer the burden of being gay as a form of repenting? The future seemed very daunting.

Then I was told by a religious teacher that God doesn’t hate homosexuals but he hates the sins that homosexuals commit. Was loving another person of the same sex a sin even though it felt so natural? So, I rationalised that it was to be my test in life to resist all homosexual temptations, thoughts and desires no matter how right they felt.

In my later high school years l began to consider that perhaps God had made me gay not as punishment nor as a test but because he knew that I could handle the pressure. Other boys might not have been able to cope with life as a homosexual. I was grateful that I, a strong willed, confident boy with supportive friends and a loving family was made gay instead of someone less fortunate who may have found themselves in the same predicament.

When my faith in God began to wane, as it does for most who’ve attended a religious school, I searched for other answers to my big gay question. Did my upbringing have an impact on my sexuality? I had read somewhere about childhood trauma and troubled upbringings affecting sexual development and causing homosexuality. Reflecting on my childhood there was absolutely nothing that could have adversely affected me either obviously or subconsciously. I grew up in an “ideal” environment with parents who were besotted with each other, who provided their children with love, support and unnecessary material possessions. I had an amazing relationship with my mum and dad and my sister was one of my best friends. We lived in an affluent area, participated in extracurricular activities too many to name, traveled often, spoke openly about our dreams and fears and comforted each other when the family dog died. My friends even commented on how “extraordinary” my family life was. Surely this wasn’t the cause of my homosexuality?

During this period of questioning I had some dark days. Days when I wondered what was the point of it all. Maybe it was better not to be than to be gay? Luckily these days were few and far between but I know that others have suffered more deeply with their own feelings of confusion and questioning.

In the end, I found the answer. I was born this way. It never crossed my mind that it was a choice; that in some way I had chosen to be gay. What teenager would choose such a challenging path? I was born this way. My upbringing was not the cause, my soul was not bad and I definitely wasn’t being punished. I was born this way. It’s as simple as that. There is no other reason or further questioning needed.

I hope that by sharing my experience, others who are going through or have been through this process will see that a part of self-acceptance is undergoing a period of questioning. The greatest relief is discovering and then believing that you are the way you are because that is the way that God or nature or the universe intended you to be.

Read Rule No.1: There are no rules (except for one)

Photo Credit: Benjamin Eidem by Stefan Zchernitz

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MEN OF DISTINCTION: JASON COLLINS

Jason Collins Gay

34 year-old American NBA player, Jason Collins has revealed in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he is gay. Collins is the first active player (he’s played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards) from any of the four major US men’s professional sports leagues to publicly come out of the closet.

“I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” Collins said. “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Collins has now become a role model for gay youth not just in America but throughout the world. Hopefully his bravery will be an inspiration for other closeted athletes to publicly come out and show young gay boys that being gay need not affect your life or your career. As I’ve always said, the world needs more positive gay roles models like Jason Collins (read Rule No.2).

More information here.

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