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[coming out stories]

Dan Brubaker
Educator, Kentucky
October 11, 1997

Ah! I always have a hard time explaining to those who have been considering "coming out" to their family or friends, because I really did not come out, just like most of my gay, lesbian or bisexual friends have.

I remember being 18 years old. I was so nervous, but when we were at the Liberty Memorial, overseeing downtown Kansas City, I decided that I'm gonna do it.

I came out to my best friend the night before I left home for my first year at Gallaudet University. My friend was shocked, pure and plain, and I cried and cried. I am not sure if it was because I felt so vulnerable and naked after exposing my little secret "closet," or because I was "liberated" from this secret.

And then, ka-boom!

Two months later, I still had not told my little secret to anybody else just yet, but guess what? This same friend outed me!

He told my mother and father, point blank, that I was a faggot. *sigh* And for six weeks, my family agonized with this, while I was partying my ass off at Gallaudet. The whole time, I never knew the turmoil back home.

When I came back home for Thanksgiving weekend, I suspected that something was not right, but then I thought that it was my first time home after a long time away, and I did not pursue it. My friends acted as if nothing happened, and I probably did not notice. Then my sister told me she wanted me to take her to Taco Bell, and she burst into tears unexpectedly. I did not know why she was crying, and she told me that my friend told our family and friends that I was gay. And my god, I was so speechless, and I was not sure if I was supposed to be relieved or be furious.

I was not prepared mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It was like I was hit by a big ship freighter at 150 mph! It was like a vortex deep inside me, sucking all good things downward - as seen in "Poltergeist," or even as recently in "Twister." If I reeled, I guess I did a good job of mental and emotional spinning.

Shit! What next?

My mother asked me a simple question the next day, "Have you tried sleeping with girls?" And I honestly told her, "Yes, but I could not enjoy the sex." And that was the end of our conversation. She never asked me another question in this regard.

My father asked me another simple question before I departed for Gallaudet again. "Do you realize that God hates gays, as mentioned in the Bible?" And I calmly told him, "Yes, I know. And I also know that somewhere in the Bible, God has said that we should not be hypocrites. If I am to be 'straight' as the Bible says, I would be a hypocrite to my true self. So, in other words, the Bible is telling me not to be a homosexual, and not to be a hypocrite. I do not have a choice, according to the Bible, but I will choose what I believe would be best for myself - my happiness. And if I am to be happy, I will not be a hypocrite by choosing to be gay."

From there, I realized that my friends back home already knew, and they had treated me just the same. I then came out with my friends at Gallaudet, one by one. It became easier as time went on (as well as my emotional and mental poltergeist / twister). I gained my self-esteem and self-confidence in who I really am, and I was able to pursue my other interests instead of focusing too much time and energy on my own identity.

As for my friend, he has apologized several times for outing me. And I know I had forgiven him back then. But, five years later, he wrote a letter to another friend (who then decided to show it to me) explaining in detail the very night when I came out to him. And since that very night, he could not, and has never accepted me for who I am. I have not spoken or written to him ever since reading that letter ten years ago. I just cut him off completely, and I do not care (really, it's too bad that it had to happen, but what can I do?). It is his problem, not mine - and life goes on, we move on.

My mother was very quick in accepting me, and it took my father a little bit longer as he wrestled with the Bible, even though he is not that religious. At one point, I had a girlfriend (knock, knock on my head) a few years after I came out, my parents asked me if that was what I really wanted. And I told them, yes (another knock, knock). They told me that whatever I really want to do would be fine with them - which was a subtle way of them telling me that they've accepted me for who I was.

They would send me a couple of articles on AIDS, and preach to me to do safer sex from time to time. And I would tell them not to worry. I know that when I open up letters, and see such articles, it would put a smile on my face because I know they care deeply.

Just before the 1993 March on Washington, my father wrote me saying that he's behind gay, lesbian and bisexual rights all the way. He closed the letter with this sentence which gave me goose bumps, "If you cannot be equal in the eyes of our country, therefore I cannot be equal."

I have come a long way, baby, but it was quite a journey! I know that my experience is not what I would be able to share as most of my gay, lesbian and bisexual friends could. And I know that I am very thankful for the course my life has taken me, in confronting and accepting the terms of my identity as well as for supportive friends and family in making sure that I am just as equal as they are.

I certainly can tell you that coming out (or even worse, being outed) is not a piece of cake! But to me, it's definitely worth it! It made me feel equal with everybody else. And you could be equal in the eyes of your own!

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