This wasn’t part of the original site but I thought I’d write down my thoughts on coming out as I did get a lot of emails through the years on this. I look at things now and realise how easy it is to be gay as compared to when I came out 20 over years ago.
Back in the late 80s, this was probably one of the most stressful things an individual could deal with as there were so many things to consider on so many levels. To me there are various stages to coming out: coming out to yourself, coming out to your close friends, coming out to everyone else and finally coming out to your family.
Coming out to yourself is the move away from self denial. Its about being able to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you like guys. After this step the rest come a little easier. Its like you’ve started the momentum for change and everything sort of happens with time.
Questions I know me and others of my generation struggled with were:
How do I stop lying to everyone around me and start telling them who I really am?
What will they think of me when I tell them I like guys? What will happen to my friends? Will I have any friends?
Will I get beaten up?
It used to be a lot harder to come out. It was quite the norm to be out but to keep your “gay” life very separate from your life at work and home. Most would have died if anyone outed them at work or if their colleagues saw them in the Tanjong Pagar area.
Take my ex for instance. When I met my him, he was a major flirt and loved to cruise for guys everywhere and anywhere. That was his “dark side”. Professionally he was quite successful but super closeted and I couldn’t go anywhere near his office as he was worried what people around his work area would think. I used to wonder how someone could reconcile such drastically opposing standpoints of homophobia and sluttiness. But after several years with me and constant brow-beating, he eventually came out to his colleagues and I know he’s much happier about work and his life in general.
These days, decisions to come out are easier as there’s so much out there to support such a decision and make you feel less like a social outcast.
And another thing ….. people are coming out much earlier!
Now I meet kids just hitting puberty who are super comfortable that they’re gay. Some are even confident enough to hit on older guys like me and to play the game such that they break hearts way before they’re even due for NS. Amazing how things have changed and accelerated so much with the onset of technology and the internet. There was a time when most of us who chatted online at #gam knew each other and were considered early adopters. Now these pioneers are playing catch-up with kids who can write scripts in their sleep to flood users they don’t like.
The journey I took to accept myself, to come out to my friends and eventually to my family was a rather smooth one. I am lucky to have friends who didn’t bat an eye when I said I liked guys and parents who love me unconditionally. It took Mom and Dad several years to really accept a gay son and to open their hearts to the different guys I shared my life with. At first Mom cried and cried and said some hurtful things and Dad refused to speak to me for months. But their attitudes towards me changed and a few years later they even allowed one of my BFs to live with us.
I guess I’m really lucky to have such wonderful parents and I love them dearly.
Mom even attended what she calls “your kind of church” to see what a service was like. She’s hoping I’ll be open to going back to the church if it was “my kind of church” but that’s a story for another time.
My best friend attributes all that’s happened to me as a result of “shoving my life” down everyone’s throat and living with a “deal with it – it’s my life” mindset. That’s how I got my parents comfortable with homosexuality and how I “forced” my ex to be comfortable with himself enough to come out to his colleagues.
So for anyone who is struggling to come out …. just take the first step.
Maybe a bit of the “deal with it – its my life” mindset will do you good. Life takes on a whole new meaning and your shoulders will get less tense as a weight will seem to have lifted. Things do become easier as you’re not spending so much time and energy hiding a part of who you are.
Read more coming out stories here.
Read about the Coming Out Project here.