“Make sure your vision and your goals are bigger than your fears.”
I love this quote. I heard it this past Sunday evening by Miss Coco Peru in her live-streamed program.
When I think about men coming out later in life and all the challenges they face, having a big vision and strong set of goals is critical.
Every step of coming out later in life, and I use the term coming out as an umbrella for everything a man goes through once they admit to themselves that they are gay or bi, triggers fear. Often not just a little bit of fear, but potentially big, overpowering, stop you in your tracks fear.
I remember obsessing about coming out to certain people. I scripted what I wanted to say to them. I got clear on my message as well as what I was not willing to talk about. I thought about how I might react to things I imagined they might say. All through this process my mind threw up a hundred barriers to coming out wrapped in fear.
My fear was not real or rational. My fears could often be traced back to my own internalized homophobia or shame that I felt about my homosexuality. Years of being in the closet does not prepare you to easily move past your fears.
I had some big goals that helped mitigate my fear. I had a goal of finding love with a man. I did not want to come out for anything less than love. I was not coming out to sit alone in an apartment and grow old. I wanted to find a partner, who I loved and who loved me. I also wanted an active, engaged life in the LGBTQ community. I wanted to join the board of an LGBTQ organization and be open as to why their cause mattered to me. I wanted to bring a male date to a work related event — my company at the time often bought tables at fundraising events and offered the tickets to employees. These big goals and many more smaller goals helped me push past and through my fear.
I also learned that on the other side of my fear was joy. After each coming out I felt stronger, happier, more empowered and often joyful. I also saw coming out as a way to combat internalized homophobia and shame. Often I did not even see the shame or homophobia until I tried to take a step forward and was met with my own fear. Behind the fear was often internalized homophobia or shame masking as fear.
The best way I have found to combat fear has been to have big audacious goals and a vision for my life that is bigger and more powerful than the fear.