Coming out

I've been thinking about how I came out as gay at 32 years old recently. I noticed in chat how straight people don't understand what an earth shaking event it is to initially acknowledge yourself as gay. Some people come out early and some later but is it always a big change in how we think of ourselves. I cam out after 32 years of being afraid of that side of me that is sexually and emotionally attrracted to other men. And it IS an emotional attachment as well as sexual. That's a lot of fear. What made it possible for me to come out was a gradual bonding with people I trusted, who respected me and wanted the best for me. I was at a weekend workshop in the country with the peer counseling group I belonged to then. The purpose of the group was to exchange roles listening to the other one and eliciting emotions that may be blocking our developement. Anyway I was sitting under a tree with a young man holdiong hands )this is how we counselled each other( and taking turns telling our deepest secrets. At some point when I was getting his attention, I noticed how good I felt with him, safe enough to feel attracted and NOTICE that I was attracted. I did not tell even him but I thought to myself "this means I'm gay". I had not thought this )that I am gay( in years, since I was a teen, and had immediately shut that thought out of my mind for decades. I was not ready to look at that side of myself. I had been living a sexless life, nominally heterosexual, dating off and on since. I took this thought to an older woman friend in this group and asked her to listen to me. She was the first one that I told. She held me for more than an hour while I shook mostly and cried, trying to process this. I felt like I had died. I felt horrible. I understood why some guys killed themselves rather than face this. It's a new identity that I was handed and I could choose to accept the new identity or continue to live a lie. Some choice!

It took me many months to get over the feeling of having died. I doubt that all gays feel this way but many must. I had a lot to learn. I didn't know anything except that men attracted me sexually and emotionally and women didn't. I confess that I've always felt a little repelled by the thought of sex with women but thought it was normal. What did I know? I had to change my self image, WHO I thought I was, even as I didn't know or trust my old self. I had to learn how to relate to men and women differently, as a sexual man for the first time in my life. I had to learn about love and falling in love. I had to find gay friends. I found that I already had gay friends but didn't know they were gay. I had to learn how to come out to my friends and family, my employer and neighbors, and whether that made sense. I had to learn to protect myself as best I could )which is not much(. I didn't know where to start.

Fortunately a young straight man at school took me under his wings. We were friends already so I mentioned that I am gay. He's black so knew about discrimination and had a lot of gay friends. Then my first lover introduced me to a lot of people and love making. He was perfect for me. My friends turned out to be very gay friendly or gay/bisexual so we had a good time. I lost a few friends when I came out to them which hurt. But the friends who remained were solid friendships.

Mr point in relaying all this is to say it takes a lot of safety, trust, and time to come out. It can't be done FOR you because it may be experienced as an assault on one's identity and a crisis. This may not happen but I don't want to take the risk with another man's life. I chat privately with many men who question their sexual identity after learning the pleasures of anal play, ALWAYS in private and ALWAYS let them figure things out for themselves. It takes time to build trust with someone enough to look at these things so I don't rush them or give them easy answers. Mostly I just ask questions which make them think. It's okay if they don't know the answer. This is THEIR life, something NOT to be taken casually and discussed in public unless they give me permission. I make a distinction between having sexually attractions to same gender people and identifying as gay or bisexual, two separate things. this is NOT something many straight people will have had to go through. I don't think so anyway having identified as straight for 32 years.