Out in Hiding: Why "Coming Out" is Only the Beginning

I rubbed my hands together repeatedly, as I paced back and forth in the tiny bedroom. I could hear my mom downstairs making breakfast, the smell of bacon wafting through the air. Normally that would be the best smell in the world, but that day it just make my stomach turn even more. I called my girlfriend at the time. "Ok, I'm going to do it now." I said quietly. 

"You can do this, I'm right here." She said confidently. I lingered on the phone for a second, as if to somehow absorb that confidence through the phone. I hung up and opened the bedroom door slowly and began my decent down stairs to the kitchen. 

Slowly I sat down at the end of the kitchen table, looking down at my hands. My mom was putting dishes away and began talking about God knows what. I didn't respond. She turned and looked at me after a few seconds of silence and noticed I was crying. 

"What's wrong?" She said, sitting down. I still couldn't speak. "Tell me right now, what is it?" She said more firmly. 

"The same thing it's been since I was 14." I cried. 

I was 27 years old when I finally came out to my mom. I had known I was gay since I was 14. And so did she. But denial is powerful thing and can prevent us from seeing the truth for as long as we allow it. Three hours, two gallons of tears and several dozen head shakes later and I was out. This should be the most freeing moment in my life, right?

Well, what they don't tell you about coming out is that once you kick down the closet doors, you're still trapped inside the house. 

It's like that movie where the guy spent years and years chipping away at the wall and when you're finally through, you realize you still have a mile of shit to crawl through before you're finally free. 

Well, right now, I am neck deep in the shit. 

Most people who know me would describe me as confident in who I am, including my sexuality. And that's very true. But what most people don't know, or rather what I don't allow them to see, is how far I really am from being happy with my sexuality. And the main reason for that is my family in no way accepts the fact that I am gay. 

The actual personification of the character, Cameron Post, I spent years trying to "fix myself" and "be normal". I have been sent to conversion therapy twice and attended "the world's largest evangelical university" for both college and law school. I have been called a sinner, a freak, backslidden, perverted, and told I was not capable of being a real Christian. I've had girls make me sleep on the couch at sleepovers and cover themselves in the locker room when I walk by. I have been told it would be better if I had gotten pregnant by a drug dealer than be gay and was given the choice between being gay or going to the college I had just received a full ride to. I told the first girl I ever loved never to speak to me again out of fear of condemnation and left the second woman I've ever loved out of the same fear. 

Now, years later, I own an LGBTQ brand designed to provide a safe space for those who are struggling not just with sexuality, but self love and acceptance in general. And yet, here I am still struggling myself.

The truth is, it is not enough for us to just be "out". We must also be free. And sometimes that is the longer battle. This is the part that we don't see in the media, the part that we don't celebrate in June. This is the part of the war when you've won and you look around and realize that now someone has to pick up all of these dead bodies all over the place and it smells like death and shit. 

I'd like to think my life is a success story, but the truth is, it is a story that is in constant flux. I come out all over again every single time I go home and one day, some lucky woman will do it with me as my wife. And I think that thought is even more frightening than the long descent I took down the stairs two Thanksgivings ago. Because the reality is, my family may never accept who I am or who I love. And I have to decide to keep crawling through the shit anyways. Because regardless of their opinion, it is not their happiness I seek. It is my own. 

So, for everyone struggling through the aftermath of coming out, keep pressing on. You're not the only one having a shitty time. 

1 comment

  • Anonymous

    First, I happened upon this website a few weeks ago and think it’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing and creating. Now, in relation to this post, my heart goes out to you. Try to be gentle with yourself. Self love and acceptance is a lifelong process. Sometimes we’re better at it than other times, and that’s perfectly ok (I struggle with self love, care, and acceptance too, for my own reasons). Our lives are continually in flux, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t success stories, it means that we’re human. And don’t forget that you’re totally allowed to have chosen families as well, who love you unconditionally. It’s often after seeing or talking with our birth family that we need to turn to our chosen families for comfort. Yes, focus on finding your own happiness, that’s what matters. <3

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