What is it that holds so many men in the closet today? The world has gotten dramatically more open, yet so many men that I have met are deathly afraid to be honest about their sexual orientation and come out.
When I was in the closet, it was very much the fear of disclosing something awful about myself, some sickness or illness that would have people think less of me, which kept me in hiding. I felt that I would be disclosing something low life, from the gutter, that would have people turn away from me.
And then, of course, there’s the life that I constructed. The life that included a wife, a son, in-laws, a great job, and a house in the suburbs. I believed the life that I had built would all would disappear if I were to come out. The longer I lived the heterosexual life I had built, the harder was to even consider coming out.
So year-by-year, day by day, hour by hour, I dug my own grave. The more I lived in the closet, the more I died a little bit each day. I know that phrase sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Over the years I lost interest in the world. Everything felt bland. All of the things that I used to love to do in my 20s: visiting museums, trying new restaurants, making pottery, dancing, and reading, they all became bland and uninteresting. And increasingly I was in so much pain I knew that I had no choice but to come out or I would be an emotional graveyard.
Only coming out began to give me my life back. Only coming out to the world has had me feel alive again. With each tentative step, first to my wife, then my son, then to my family and friends, and more recently at work, I have felt more alive. Each coming out step has had me feel stronger, more sure of myself, prouder, alive, and interested in the world, and more interested in giving back to the community.
There’s a power in being true to who you are. It’s so incredibly enabling, that I can’t fully describe its power. Coming out has the power to heal the soul. Again a dramatic statement, but true. My soul continues to heal after years of self-enforced dying.
I am proud of myself. I do see the courage it took to take those initial tentative steps, and the courage it takes to continue moving forward. But I think I’ve become a bit of a coming-out junkie. Because every time I come out, I feel a rush of happiness and I feel stronger. And I want more of it. So let the addiction continue.