Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Out & About

Coming out to my family was an out-of-body experience. As my mouth began moving, forming words I had rehearsed time and time again, I forfeited all control to some invisible force-- there was no turning back and the universe made sure of that. There I was, sitting at our dinner table with my parents, my sister, two of my brothers, and all three of their spouses, and I somehow mustered the words: "I am gay." Out loud.

I had prepared myself emotionally for the impending possibility of coming out to the remaining members of my family over Christmas break, but I hadn't made any concrete goal to do so. It was merely an "if it happens, it happens" kind of sentiment. I reworked the practice letter I had carefully written so many months ago (taking out the parts about being in love-- one step at a time, people!) and saved it on my iPad just in case.

After we finished a round of games on Wednesday night, just as we had every night before, we sat talking and laughing as a family, enjoying our last night all together. When a lull in the conversation and a shuffling of chairs threatened my final chance to tell them all in one setting, I spoke up. 

"Before we go to bed, and before Conrad and Jamie head back to Arizona tomorrow, there is something I want to talk to you guys about. Something that has been on my mind for a long time, and tonight seems like a good night to talk about it."

I fumbled for my iPad, opened the letter and with a shaky and emotion-filled voice read every word. At parts, I had to pause and collect myself, dab my tear-stained cheeks and push forward. I prayed the letter would never end because I was terrified of what was waiting on the other side.

"...I testify that Jesus is the Christ, an unblemished example of pure charity and love. He knows me and the desires of my heart fully, and when that day comes, I will bow down before Him in humility and say without shame, 'Lord, I have done my best.'

With all the love I possess,

I shut off my iPad, wiped the tears from my face, and waited. Waited for applause, boos, crying, shouting, incoming balls of yarn, anything! Finally, after a few hugs and what seemed like an eternity of quiet, my brother Conrad finally opened up and got the ball rolling.

We spoke for two hours as a family about my past, my present, and most of all, my future. They shared thoughts, kind words of support, and testimonies of the Gospel. Their reactions ranged from angry, ignorant and uninformed, to concerned, loving and supportive. I can't say I expected otherwise.

I haven't had much contact with my siblings or father since that pivotal night, but to know I have finally broken free of my shell of silence and exposed an important part of myself to my family is overwhelmingly relieving. This part of me has been clawing at the walls of my heart, mind and soul for years. 

There are still many miles to go before we see eye to eye on the issue and the choices I may or may not make, but at least one thing is sure: I no longer have to fear living in the dark. The truth has been illuminated to a few more people, chipping away at the barricade that conceals my whole self. These fresh holes in this wall give me a taste of a future where I can be seen for who I am, a gay man, struggling to find his place in this world, just like everyone else. 

When that glorious days comes, when the truth has completely penetrated the walls around me, and my world is flooded with light, I will finally stand tall in the glow of understanding, and bask in the warmth of complete emancipation.

And corny metaphors aside, I'm simply atwitter that I can now officially be everyone's favorite guncle! :D


Ben said...

I'm so happy for you! It sounds like it was an amazingly liberating and healing experience. It took courage to do what you did.

It's sad that something that was normal at one time in history causes so much fear, persecution, and alienation in our "modern society". I can't wait for the day when people won't even need to come out because nobody will be judged by their sexual orientation in the first place.

Trev said...

Yay! Congratulations!

C said...

Amen, Ben. Amen.

Kevin said...

I'm so happy for you. I'm glad you were able to come out to your family. I finally came out to my extended family just a couple weeks ago. So it was been very liberating.