If coming out was just about the sex, I would have stayed in the closet. Sex is easy to find. But as I have aged and matured I want something more meaningful then a trick or friend with benefits.
When my wife and I were going through some of our most difficult days two and a half years ago, she turned to me in anger and said: “You know, you’re not 21 anymore. Is this about you having sex?” The question struck me with surprise. It was a sign of how much she did not understand. I was very clear with her that I was not coming out for the sex. I was coming out because the secrecy, the hiding, the compartmentalization of my life, had left me an emotional mess. I was increasingly depressed, isolated, a jumble of the emotions and deeply hidden. I was coming out to feel like an integrated human being. I was coming out to be proud of who I was. If there was sex along the way, great. But sex was not the driving force behind my coming out.
It has been a year and four months since my wife and I separated. I moved out of our home and into an apartment. I have loved every minute of it. First I came out to family and friends. Then eight months ago I began to come out at work. Each coming out has open new doors. I’ve been surprised and empowered by how supportive and embracing everyone has been.
I now feel the integrity I had hoped to feel. I now feel a level of integration or wholeness that I never felt before. I’m excited about my future for the first time in years.
I find each coming out opens new doors and opportunities. I keep meeting great people, gay and straight, who respect my integrity and are supportive of me as a gay man.
There is a power in telling the world who you are and having the world accept and even embrace you. I had dinner last week with a woman I had only known in passing at a company I used to work at. We met and renewed our acquaintance at the Washington, D.C. Pride Festival last summer. She is an African American lesbian woman who is actively involved in the LGBT community. She told me that as an educated professional white man that I was privileged. She is right, I am privileged.
When I hear about teens thrown out of their homes because of their homosexuality or vicious anti-gay bigotry, I find it hard to reconcile with the positive and supportive responses I have received to my coming out. I see myself as one of the lucky ones. Coming out has been a life changing, life affirming, integrating, positive experience for me.
Through coming out at work I’ve met a whole group of LGBT men, women and LGBT allies that I didn’t know before. The whole experience has been empowering. For the first time in my adult working life I’m able to talk about gay topics at work, with colleagues, as part of my job. It is just fantastic.
By coming out at work, I was able to join the board of LGBT health organization. By coming out at work I stepped to the role of executive sponsor of my company’s new LGBT resource group. I have felt empowered to go to public events with a male date and it felt great. I continue to meet people across the LGBT community and make new friends and connections. It is a very exciting time of my life.
My therapist keeps telling me not to be in such a rush. But I feel coming out late has given me this urgency to get on with my life. I’m on a fast track and I love it. I am dating. I have just taken on a new responsibilities, joining the board for an LGBT Health Care organization and at work as the executive sponsor for our LGBT Employee Resource Group. It is a very exciting, very busy time of my life.
The main reason every man and woman who is gay or lesbian should come out is to feel a level of integration and pride that is simply not possible in the closet. The closet breeds sex on the down low, hidden lives and compartmentalized emotions. Coming out has truly had me feel integrated, proud and whole in a way I never fully imagined.