“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 a strong set of goals is critical.
Every step of coming out later in life, and I use the term coming out like an umbrella for everything a man goes through once they admit to themselves that they are gay or by, 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. I thought about what I was not willing to talk about. I thought about how I might react to things I imagined they might say. All thought this process my mind threw up a hundred barriers wrapped in fear.
My fear was not real or rational. My fears could often be traced back to my own internalized homophobia or shame I still felt about my homosexuality. Year 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 any 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 gay 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 smaller goals helped me drive 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 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 were met with fear. Behind the fear was often internalized homophobia or shame masking as fear.
So 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.