Thursday, in Seminary: For the past several weeks (and days, in particular) I had been seriously considering whether it was time to come out. Just as I was feeling that it was time for action, the girl who sits behind me passed a note up asking to speak with me after class...and before I knew it I'm going with her to a Valentine's Day dance. I'm sure it'll be fun, and I'm sort of looking forward to it, but I do feel a bit disingenuous.
As I said, I am strongly considering coming out. I don't see any net benefits to staying closeted longer. It would be difficult to be openly gay in a fairly narrow high school, but I wouldn't be the only one. There are others who are out at my school, and others who will be out in the future. While I could stay within the (seemingly) safe confines of the closet, what about tomorrow's gay students--especially those who are also LDS? I'd like to think that my coming out could help foster positive change for them, so, I can do my part to maintain the status quo through inaction, or do what I can to change attitudes for the better. While I do not overestimate my (very limited) ability to influence anyone, I cannot simply shrug and say that people will be more accepting tomorrow--because they won't, unless there is action today. As Martin Luther King said, "Change does not roll in on the back of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."
Everyone likes being liked, but for closeted gay people, it is often tainted by the insecurity "If you really knew me...", the worry that admirers would be scorners if they knew the truth. As an anonymous quote says, "It's better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not." I've tried the latter, and now I'm ready to risk the former.
Some may advise me not to come out when I have been so unsure of my orientation. My sexuality has indeed been somewhat ambiguous; however, I think this is more common than I was led to believe. I have read that it is quite normal to see a two year period between the realization that one is not heterosexual and the definite claiming of an orientation. Knowing this, I'm not sure the discovery and exploration of my sexuality has been all that unusual. Moreover, I think that it is probably because the fact of my homosexuality didn't occur to me at a young age that I was able to develop self-assurance that would help me in the coming out process now. In other words, the ambiguity I've experienced, far from being a reason not to come out, is one of the main reasons I feel I could.
Others may warn that I will be limiting my options in life, and there is truth in that. To respond I go back to the ongoing story of the St. Valentine's dance...
Earlier today we made arrangements to pick out the corsage and...boot-thing. Sometime after school I met her and her family at the floral shop. I'm not sure why they came along, but they did, and I was fine with it. I shook their hands, but I was already feeling like a fraud. As we picked something out, I began to feel, on a miniscule level, a tiny bit of what a mixed-orientation relationship might be like for me. Don't get me wrong, I know this is just a silly high school dance, but in a small way it seemed like a microcosm what the situation might be like for me: She took the initiative, not me; I felt untrue, in a way, to both her and myself; my knowledge of flowers was more extensive than hers; etc... (Just kidding on the last one there :)
The hardest thing was her dad. He was a really nice guy. And he was happy. He seemed pleased with me and pleased that his daughter was going to a dance. At one point he put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye, and something inside told me I was just wrong. It's such a small thing, but I realized then what I knew all along: that I would not marry a woman. I don't want to, can't do this on an eternal scale--that was the thought that came to me as I shook her dad's hand.
With regards to my closet status, I will pray fervently and think carefully before moving forward. But in the end that is usually what coming out is: a move forward. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something, but I resolved at the beginning of this year to not let my fears obstruct my way forward. They are warranted, to some degree (there likely is rejection and misunderstanding in store), but life requires us to take risks. I have allowed fear to paralyze me for most of my life, and this time, I intend to follow the advice of a book written to help people move beyond their misgivings:
feel the fear...and do it anyway