About four years ago now, my life changed forever and in ways I would’ve never expected. When I came out as gay, I did so with caution. If I were to have come out today, I probably would word some things differently, and maybe the whole blog post I wrote back then would take a different tone overall. But that’s the thing, really. If I didn’t come out almost four years ago now, the monumental changes I’ve gone through wouldn’t have happened. I would maybe still be floating in the same headspace I was back then. I’ve learned a lot, taken many steps forward, and a few steps back. Through it all, however, I’ve learned to love who I am and who I’m becoming, more and more each day.
Coming out changed my life, it changed my outlook, and it changed my beliefs. I said four years ago that some things wouldn’t change, but I was wrong: They have. Everything has changed. We can never predict where the future will lead us, and I sure couldn’t have predicted back then, just where these last four years would go.
It’s been wild.
Wonderfully Made From The Beginning
My sexuality is not a mistake. I didn’t choose to be gay, but the question remains: Would I change it if I could? After just about four years of this new life, after living as an out gay man and all that entails, the answer is a resounding “No.” I wouldn’t change it for the world. God knows I’ve tried. Even though I’ve lost people, the new friendships I’ve formed have been some of the most fruitful of my life.
The new people who’ve filled the void in recent years have profoundly changed me and given me a sense of comfort that I’m not alone. That never would’ve happened had I not ventured out on this path in the first place.
When I was making the decision to publicly come out, I spent months counting the cost. It was the hardest and bravest decision I believe I ever made. I knew people wouldn’t like it, I knew everything was going to be subject to change. In many ways, no stone has been left unturned. Much has changed, and very little has stayed the same.
Through many trials, toils, and snares, I’m finally living as my authentic self, and I couldn’t ask for more. These last four years have brought challenges, but they’ve also brought peace.
I’m genuinely happy with who I am. I’m discovering more of that person each day. I like him. I think he’s a badass, and I couldn’t be more proud him.
I spent my formative years in a high-pressure evangelical setting, one where the worst thing you could be was gay. I dissociated from a very important part of myself. I wasn’t able to be fully me. As I entered my late teenage years, I started to realize that I was gay. It terrified me for years.
Someone would find out, I was sure of it. I would casually mention a cute guy and my secret would be out.
But no, I kept this secret strapped tightly to my chest for years. No one knew. I’m a terrible secret keeper, but my entire social survival hinged on this.
So, I suffered in silence.
I suffered in silence until I couldn’t any longer.
I came out late one fall night on an old blog and then went to bed so I couldn’t take it back.
The secret was out. The toothpaste could not go back into the bottle.
Bird Set Free
But oh! I tried a few times to put that toothpaste back in. I went back to church at one point, never mentioning what we all knew, deep down, to be true about me. But there comes a breaking point for everyone, where you just have to say “fuck it, I’m being who I am, to hell with the consequences!” It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, to be honest. Probably the best. It’s empowering to be who you are and to be unapologetic for it.
Truth be told, I’m still finding my wings.
Sia’s song “Bird Set Free” speaks to me on this one.
“I sing for love, I sing for me, I’ll shout it out like a bird set free”Sia
For years, I was a caged bird, held down by my own shame of who I was and who I loved. Typing that out now, I realize how silly it really all is. That is, being ashamed of love. It’s sad I spent so many years of my life worried what certain people would think, or what my reputation would be if I came out.
Yes, some of my community couldn’t join me on this journey, others came late, and still others were already miles further down the road than I was. I also found new people on the journey that I would’ve never found otherwise.
I also found my voice.
A voice that speaks up for those who are persecuted. Namely, the LGBTQ+ community and the mental health community. I’ve found incredible, sweet, but strong people in both these wonderful communities and it’s made such a difference in my life getting to know them.
It’s been said that it just takes one voice. My voice is a quiet one but don’t be mistaken: It’s fierce. I’ll always stand up for my communities against bigotry and stigma and bullying. I’ll educate, I’ll learn, and I’ll continue to grow.
I’m light years away from where I was four years ago when this all started to go down, but I wouldn’t change any of it for anything.
My life is wonderfully complex. While there have been bumps in the road, things did get better. Then, they got fabulous.
And they also got much more glittery.