Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fear and The Power of Coming Out

Yesterday marked National Coming Day and if you listened very carefully, you may heard the sound of thousands of closet doors being ripped off their's true. Every moment, that goes by  another lgbt person is summoning the courage to tell someone the truth about themselves. They may tell a parent, a spouse, a friend,.....they may only be able to speak the words to total strangers through YouTube. It may happen through faltering words, through tears, or by courageous phone call or by letter...but its  happening everyday all over the world....right now.

National Coming Out Day is set aside to talk about the process of coming out......Why we do it, what the benefits  are and what the risks are, all in an effort to foster awareness. That awareness is sorely needed by many, both in the LGBT community and also for the world at large. When we have a clearer idea of what coming out is and what it means to people on both sides of the process perhaps we can handle that moment with a little more understanding, confidence, compassion, and grace. It can be scary and awkward to come out to someone....but it can also be one of the most powerful ways that we can change our lives and the world around us into a better place to be. Secrecy breeds fear...and even though the official day has passed,  lets blow some more closet doors off their hings shall we?

Fear keeps is the single most powerful force keeping us in the closet.....Fear that our parents will not accept us. Fear that they may kick us out and/or disown us. Fear that we have hurt a spouse or our kids because we couldn't deal with this years ago. Fear that our friends will all turn their backs on us. Fear of a life we have populated with our negative stereotypes of what it means to be gay. Fear that we will never be able to make our dreams come true or that we will be hated and shunned because we love someone of the same gender or feel like a different sex on the inside than what others see on the outside. The list  is huge and they can keep us stuck in the dark....frozen up and unable to see a way out for a very long time.

From my own experience, the hardest person to come out to was myself. For a very long time I just refused to put the label "GAY" on what I was feeling. It was so much easier to blame it on external forces than to own it myself. So I stuffed all those feelings down inside over and over and over again. Occasionally allowing myself a fantasy or two and then feeling utterly ashamed over it.....I would then force it all down inside again and try my damnedest to date girls and be who I thought I was supposed to be. But you can only do that to yourself for so long,. Eventually, you will reach a point at which it is intolerable and impossible to hide it from yourself any longer. They will allow you to push them aside for a while but there will come a day when they will not move out of the way and they will DEMAND to be looked at. It was when this happened to me that I decided that what I was feeling might just be a part of  myself...I was gay and I was going to have to deal with this somehow because it wasn't going to go away. But saying those words to yourself  can be the single  hardest coming out of all.

Yet, facing it still doesn't mean accepting it. We can be a hundred times more hateful to ourselves then any homophobic stranger could be. When you finally get to that point of saying..."I'm gay" or "I'm trans"...then your mind fills up with all the fears and judgments you have been taught over time. Wading through that stuff is tough....and some handle it with strength...others may take years to work it out. No one ever tells you that being gay only affects who you love...Not who you are as a person or what you can make of your life. I guess so many many of us assume that being straight comes with a script for life that we assume that we should follow the one that society spins for the gay and trans people too....fortunately for all, no one needs to follow a script. Your life,  your sexuality and your identity are colored by who you are...not the other way around. Wan't to get married and have can do that. Wan't to stay single and party it up till your liver gives out? can do that too. But it will be up to you  to build that life and your responsibility to see it through.....and yes, sometimes you will have  to fight for it. This is true whether you are gay, straight, bisexual, or trans. All those fears you have inside of you should not stand in way. Most of them are false and the few of them that may be real you will deal with when they happen. You have everything you need inside you to meet those challenges. you have come out to yourself.....first hurdle crossed. What about the rest of the world?  

Now it gets to the scary part. How do I tell my parents? friends? wife? Relax....don't rush,....take it slow. Telling the people we love the most can be the single most frightening part of come out. If the people we love can't accept us what do we do? This is why I will forever consider coming out as a major act of love and trust in the person we are coming out to.....Because we are standing there with our hearts in our hands and just asking to be loved.

And slow many people feel like they have to start coming out to everyone they know NOW. No.... you don't. Never feel pressured to come out before you are ready. I get emails from teens all the time that ask how to tell their parents...or even if they should. There fears are well grounded. Some of us spend months building up our courage only to have our parents say, "Thats' great dear...pass the peas."  while others of us get disowned and kicked out into the street. Coming out has risks. It is not going to be as bad as you fear but you can not guarantee which way it will go. You have to trust your gut  and make sure you protect yourself. Have a safety net in place to catch you if it all falls apart. Have place to go if you get kicked out, have a job or way to support yourself.....give yourself some measure of protection if you feel there is a significant change of being hurt. Most of the time however, the worst that is hurt is our emotions.

If our families and friends can't accept as.....we do what we have always done as a our own families again from the ground up with people who know us as we are. When fathers and mothers fail  and friends vanish, You will meet new friends and people who will love you exactly as you are. And over time you wounds will heal. Sometimes, all our families need is a little time to work through their feelings and prejudices before they can be the parents or friends we knew was always in them.   And if you are lucky enough to have parents who hug you and tell you it's alright....hug them back because they are very special people and to be treasured.

Every day that goes by you will get stronger and you will realize that being gay is only one part of you....and you will wonder why it's all such a big deal that everyone should fight it so hard. Life won't be butterflies and rainbow unicorns but it will be yours. If you have the courage to live it out loud, Not only will you benefit...but you will also give something back to the world if you will let them see you.

and let them see you....All the people in the church pews....all the people who vote from fear.....all the people who may not know one  single gay person....all the people who though their own ignorance and fears repeat the words that made you so afraid to admit who you were...even to yourself. When our coworkers, neighbors, and the average person can look into our lives and see that they are just like theirs......the less they are able to believe that we are evil or sick people who don't deserve to treated with dignity or respect. They more they can see us as human....the less they will repeat the same words of fear and hate that you heard and that became your reasons to fear being known for all that you are. Maybe some other person will be lucky enough to never have to hear that they are a sinner... a faggot....or a menace to the good of society because the people who would have told them now know it's not true. And they know that because someone who is out.showed them by living life the best they can......maybe that will be you..

But changing the world may be too big to think about when all your thinking about is how do I get through today. Be kind to yourself and never beat yourself up for what you haven't yet found the courage to do. Coming out can change our wonderful ways...and .sometimes painful ones....but many of us survived it. We may have our scars, but we also have a lot more memories, loves, and adventures that we would never have given up for the safety of the closet. Coming out may change the world....but more importantly it can change you too......when you are physically safe enough and ready to leave that closet behind for good.

Those of us who have done it hold out our hands to you and tell you that you can make it.....might today be your day to blow the hinges off your own closet doors?

Until next time dear readers.....


  1. "build our own families again from the ground up with people who know us as we are"...some of us to not even the luxury to even do that...coming out was probably the worse thing i ever did and i lost everything

  2. I am gay...I am so much more then that. I am human, a taxpayer and I own my own home. I am not rich--just myself. I have an easier situation now that I am older...When I was younger, I was beaten and chastised; From others and my own family...True! Now my (New) family embraces me. I have many friends that are conservative...yet they really can't find anything "Wrong" with me...We agree and disagree..That is life...My other half and I have been together for more than 23yrs and have seen so much. I hope that this will hope!

  3. wonderful :)

    "...standing there with our hearts in our hands and just asking to be loved."

  4. Bryan, Jay - you inspired me to C-O to mine friends and colleages and so I wrote the blog post about it and send them on Comming Out Day. Now I'm "out" as much as I think I can be. Thank you, guys! ;)

    Here is the post in Polish:

    The most interesting thing is only about half of likes on page are from mine friends. Rest is from total strangers. Hope I made world better a bit by it...

  5. @ the anonymous first poster.....Yes, it really does all fall apart sometimes...I hope I communicated that clearly enough in this post. Sometimes you come out, and you do lose everything.....but then it's up to you again. Then you rebuild a new life one day at a time based off who you want to be....not who you thought you should be.

    I didn't want to paint a too rosey picture of what coming out can be because that's not everyones experience....and I do not know what your circumstances are. I DO know that so many of us have survived losing what we held most dear only to one day find it again in a new form. We risk losing everything to live in honesty and to be able to love for real. whether that is worth it or not is up to each of us to decide.

  6. Great post Bryan. Very uplifting, and it sort of made me feel empowered. I want to snag the rosie the riveter image and make it my facebook profile picture! Wish I had the guts!

    You guys always make me want to finally come out (officially) to family. I've hinted around it, and have a girlfriend, whom my family knows I'm close with, but not how close. I've been living on my own for several years now. I'm not sure what my big deal is. Close family is my last hurdle.

    I wish I could provide support like you guys. Maybe someday if I can ever get past the family hurdle, I could. You are all so brave and have such big hearts. All four of you... thank you for what you do.

  7. HJ....Lets see....I came out at about 22-23ish(give or take a year). I am now 38. that means it took me almost 15 years of just trying to be me. it took almost as long of Jay and Me being together as a couple and working out our lives together. Then it took a miracle and a tragedy to launch us onto youtube and everything that came with it.

    Be you. Be young. Fall in love and learn to be happy and strong in who you are first. THEN come out and kick some ass :)

  8. hi i'm steve -- just found your site --- love it -- it's strange to wake up one day and realize that you have been wasteing your life not being yourself -- i'm 34 just came out to most of my friends -- to my surprise it went really well -- been stressing bad about coming out to my parents, its so hard to think that you may lose your family -- seeing you guys and the life you have made gives me hope that the same may be possible for me someday -- you guys are awesome people --- thank you

  9. @good to hear from you Steve...and good luck :)

  10. Thanks Bryan. Sometimes it just feels funny because it feels like I'm hiding my relationship. I forget I'm still young and it's okay to take time. Can't wait to be able to kick arse like you two do. Peace to you.

  11. hey again Bryan - i am the youngest of 3 brothers - i came out to my middle brother last week wednesday - it went well he's pretty cool with me -- then i came out to mom (we are very close) on sunday night -- seemed to go ok at first -- now she seems very sad and down and she does not agree with it -- i wish there was something i could do or say to ease her mood -- any suggestions? i think me great relationship with mom is in the toilet now

    also i know i have to tell the rest of the family -- oldest brother should not be so bad -- not really sure how or when to tell dad

    i never ever thought i would be able to do this -- but its strange -- even though things are allready very different it does feel better to finaly start to live open and honest -- what a weight that is lifting -- man if this is just of taste of things to come i can't wait to see what the rest of my life has in store -- once again - i love you guys -- you're awesome


  12. Dear Bryan,

    Thanks for the post. I have been following your blog and the depfox channel on and off for almost a year. Your discussion on fear and coming out to yourself really resonate with me. I just came out to one friend, and I'm as confused and scared as ever, mostly because of the uncertainty and challenges that lie ahead of me. But I do want to let you know that you have helped to spell out how I really feel inside, it's a relieve to understand what I'm feeling and know that someone can relate to my experience and emotions. Wish there are more people around me like you!


  13. Ive been one of those slow door openers - Ive told select family and friends - some took the news better than others. Im one who prefers that people get to know me as a whole then when its the right time I spring it on them - usually shocking the hell out of them. Im a bluecollar southern guy (35 years old) - one of those cubby/bear types physically, masculine and have one of the butchest jobs on the planet - Im a locomotive engineer for one of the largest railroads in the US. So when people learn Im gay I tend to get "You are F'in serious!?" LOL I love ya'lls vids - you guys are a great inspiration for all other long term couples out there. Keep it up. Big HUGS from the deep south!