Coming out for me was possibly the biggest anticlimax I have ever experienced. Growing up in the country, where men are men and have sex with women, I somehow managed to make myself believe I would be rejected the moment I came out. I got myself so worked up I was vomiting, not eating or drinking and broke out in pimples all from the stress. In the end I needed a friend to cover my shift at work so I could go home and declare my sexuality to my parents. My dad was at work when I got home but I blurted it to mum as soon as I saw her. I don’t think I have ever felt that hollow before. It was probably the relief, I was being held back by not being able to admit to anyone my sexuality, even myself. The challenge was overcoming that obstacle of vocalising my sexuality admitting to myself the reality of what my sexuality is. After a lot of hugging, and crying, and more hugging I had it affirmed that my parents never could or would reject me and that my mother was only really overprotective. She said she grew up in a time when being gay meant being victimised but after a minor adjustment period she came to understand that was no longer the case.
After spilling my guts there was the three-hour wait for dad to come home when we both stressed and mulled over his potential reaction. When the reaction did come it caught both of us off guard. He said “so”, and that was it. It changed nothing for him. He did have a strong religious upbringing and grew up on farms but when it came to his own children nothing could ever change the fact that we were his children. Following this there were of course questions to try and understand each other. The main one was how it felt to be gay and how do you know if you are or aren’t gay. My answer was I just knew. I do have a sexual attraction to women still but I know my heart would only be content with a man.
The questions continued for the next few days, including a day of mum searching the internet for information of other parents of gay children. She came across some horror stories of guilt and rejection that brought her to tears. None of them reflected her yet she couldn’t understand the reactions of some parents toward their own children. She knows now and is an example that some (and hopefully most) parents do not change according to their child’s sexuality. My parents’ reactions made me more proud of them than I had been in the past. Who they are to me is something too incredibly important to be lost over something as minor as my sexuality.
Coming out freed me in one way: Instantly I had too much energy to spare. All that energy focused on hiding my sexuality had to go somewhere so I put it toward to more important aspects of my life: my education, my family, my work, my life in general.
On the whole my other main discovery is that coming out is apparently a lifelong requirement, especially in a society where you are assumed to be straight until you say otherwise. Everyone’s reactions are different when you do tell them. My sister’s first response was I would have to use a surrogate or adopt to have children. My brother literally grunted and that was it. My uncle celebrated because he won a bet against my aunt. Others celebrate my sexuality, some don’t know how to approach the issue from lack of experience with non-straight people and others just ignore the sexuality aspect and continue to act in the same manner. Most people back home in the country town don’t even know yet that I am gay, if they do they don’t act differently toward me. Everyone’s different and so are their reactions. Those who really care are not affected and luckily it seems that today that number is growing as are the number of support networks out there.