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Monday, 27 February 2012

The Day I Surrendered and Came Out to Myself

Mentally, the words "I'm gay" or "I'm attracted to guys" have crossed my mind countless times. But they always seem to slide me by in denial, like a pedestrian on a pavement who feels the rushing wind of a speeding vehicle but is never hit. That all changed when I made plans to meet up with another openly gay man named R through a social network site for travellers back in 2011.

R stated that he was gay in his profile, so like any "curious case", I was subconsciously drawn to him. All I knew was that I felt the need to talk to somebody who was openly gay because I myself was a heavily closeted secret for more than 10 years, coming from where I came from. I of course did not tell him that.

When we finally sat down over a cup of coffee, we started talking and I casually asked him about his life. As he gave me a brief introduction, I took the opportunity to probe further on how he went from being married to coming out as a gay man.

He was very surprised as to how much interest I was showing in regard to the gay aspect of his life, but proceeded to tell me his story even though he wasn't very comfortable sharing it with somebody he had just met for less than an hour. I felt guilty because I was aware of being completely out of line here, but at the same time I was struggling to find some answers of my own through him.

During his 30s, R married the woman he loved and had kids, despite secretly knowing all along that he was truly gay. Few years after the marriage, R could no longer repress his sexuality, was no longer in denial and decided to come out. This obviously sent shocks to several members of his family.

The crucial person in particular was his devastated wife who couldn't accept how he inconsiderately destroyed her life and ultimately filed for divorce. She moved away and everybody else got on with life. Although R is no longer on good terms with his ex-wife, his relationship with the kids are getting better after years of reparation.

Upon hearing his story, all kinds of chemicals and dynamites were just exploding inside of me. I unexpectedly welled up in my eyes but remained in strict composure out of respect and public decency. Listening to R made me realised that I was looking at my own possible future. That if I don't make the decision to acknowledged my own homosexuality and face the issue with courage, this selfish closeted journey that is a lie will end up hurting not only myself, but other people in the form of my future wife, my family or my kids. So it's not just about me any more.

Deep down, I sympathised with his ex-wife. I then curiously asked, how he could have married her in the first place without thinking about the repercussions that might one day come. And then what happens then? "I didn't think anything would come. At that moment, it just felt right to marry because I genuinely love her, and that's what you do when you love someone"replied R.

R is now in his 50s and ever since coming-out, has had many successful relationships. I couldn't be happier for how things are currently turning out for him because I've always believed in my heart that clear skies were always due to someone after they ride out their rough stormy days.

In fact, he is one of those handsome men who get better looking as they age. Nice athletic body, great biceps, chiselled face, amazingly tall and successful in his broker career. Seeing another grown gay man like him who is so beyond my reach and living his life, gave me a taste of what it feels like to be me. I felt so small, so out of place, so underprivileged. What a world of difference him and I are. I mentally weighed my confidence, reflecting on everything I was at that moment and everything that I was made of, everything that I had. I was bankrupt on the inside.

R then went on to question if my conspicuous curiosity in the conversation meant that I too was struggling with "something similar"? I couldn't bear to answer the question. I was just not ready to openly admit to another human being that my uncontrollable sexual fantasies have always been exclusively towards guys only.

At that point, I had a moment of weakness and felt the need to cover up. So I played the bisexual card, even though I've only kissed a guy for the first time about a week ago and have never been sexually attracted to a girl in my entire life. That was when I asked him what he thinks. Should I come out?

He: [weird look]
"I don't understand. Do you know what it is exactly you want? Why do you want to come-out? Do you feel like there is a need to come-out? "

"Well, I don't know."
"To be honest, I'm struggling with the idea of wanting a guy, but don't want to close the door to the possibility of one day being with a girl." (denial)
"I don't know R. What do you think I should do? Should I come out?"

"Look, if you're a bisexual, then I don't see the need to come out at all."
"It's only an issue if you're gay and you want to come out for real."

Me: [long silence]
"I don't know..." (denial)

"Look, if you feel the need to come out... for whatever reason..." 
"Come out for yourself, and not for other people."

It's true I have fallen for girls in my life, but deep deep down I knew it was only at an emotional level and never sexual. I lied in the spirit of being in denial. Come out for yourself, and not for other people. That phrase hit me hard like a bus going at 80 kilometres an hour. It hit me so hard, because it was true and it was what I needed to hear.

Me: [long silence]
"I don't know R..." (denial)
"I'm not even sure if I know what I am."

He: [looks at me in the eye]
"I think..." 
"You know."
"Only you... would know".

Me: [longest silence...]

He: [still looking at me in the eye with confidence]

I felt so cornered because he knew I was a closeted denial case; in fact, all mature gay men know it too well because they were pioneers before us. But nevertheless, I appreciated him so much for the subtle encouragement that was glistening on his facial expression as his final words, helped me reach an epiphany without putting me on the spot. 

I took a long hard walk all the way from Midtown to Uptown along 8th Avenue, thinking about what I've just learnt and the conversation I just had. For a moment, a part of me felt lighter because I finally managed to sort out some thoughts that has been blocking me for years. 

It was then that I remember thinking to myself: "It's time M. I no longer want to be stuck, I want to move on. The future of this decision is scary, and the journey is going to be long and difficult, but it really is time. It's time to face it, it's time to come to terms with it and it's time to do something about it. I am gay."

It hit me that people make mistakes, and to hear how R put himself through a detour, having to hurt the people he loved before coming to terms with the truth, made me realise how much I have going on for me. As a young gay in 2011, I am much luckier than he was during the 70s and the 80s where being gay was much more difficult back then. 

Being in my early 20s, I am still in the position to make a choice and change my life. I want to love myself enough to give myself the chance to be honest. Life is too short to be living in denial. To save myself from the agony of having to go through this when I'm 30 years old or 40, by which I would have lost my youth. By giving myself an early start, I would have gained 10 or 20 years of living the truth, in being myself. And within that period, increased my chances of finding somebody, if I'm lucky or destined to.

The fact is there's nothing I can do to change my biological nature of being attracted to guys. If it's something we can't change, then acceptance is the only logical way to moving forward. Once I've accepted it, I can then move on to focus on developing the other aspects of my life. Hence, coming out to oneself.

Now I don't know if this post made sense, but I sincerely hope this story would at least help shed some light for struggling readers who are still confused or in denial. Coming to terms with oneself is probably one of the hardest chapters in life, but it is also the most important in one's development and emotional well-being. We greatly need it in order to move forward, therefore take all the time you need so as long as you get there, be fair and go easy on yourself. However, I certainly can't help but wonder if the decision to start life young and gay, somehow brings justice to older generations of gay men who weren't as lucky as before and have lost their youth living someone else's life in the shadow.

I wrote more about my thought about R in another post titled: Coming Into Your Life For A Reason

1 comment:

  1. You chose wisely. Accepting yourself in your 20s was the way to go. I am only now, in my 40s, coming out and going through many of the things you have been through.

    Unlike R I was never married and I never had a relationship with a woman. I lived a frozen existence for 30 years.

    I can only hope that it is not too late for me...but I hear your clarion call of 'Lost Youth' and I have to wonder...