Category Archives: Coming Out

The Never-Ending Cycle

On Monday, I wrote about coming out to someone for the first time. As most of you know, it’s a never-ending cycle. You come out over and over again whether to co-workers, doctors, family, new friends, etc. As for family, I’ve only come out to my parents. My mother had suspicions I was gay for years. She found gay porn once in an overnight bag and confronted me about it. I told her it was just curiosity. It was an awful scene; she reacted negatively. I realized I would probably never be able to come out to her. Years later, when I was home from grad school, she checked my email or so she said. I do know she saw an email over my shoulder from, and she probably lied to me about checking my email. I had logged out after all. It was another ugly scene, but I did not deny it this time. I was living as an out gay man in Mississippi, and I decided I couldn’t deny who I was anymore. She told my father. He told me I had to tell my mother I was being celibate or something. She took the news badly. (Imagine my eyes rolling.) They both made me promise never to tell anyone else in the family. My dad told me especially not to tell my grandmother. I never knew if he meant his mother or my mother’s mother. It doesn’t matter anymore, as they have both passed never knowing I was gay. I think my aunt knows, but we don’t discuss it. One day I plan to tell my niece and nephew, but probably not until they are adults. I have no desire to tell my sister; as long as my niece and nephew are young, I firmly believe she, or her asshole husband, would no longer allow me to see them.

My Monday post recounted how I came out in grad school. I didn’t have to keep coming out when new students were admitted. It was just common knowledge. Very few people had a problem with it at least not openly. I don’t think the leadership of the department would have allowed it; we had at least two professors who were gay. The next time I came out was when I went to a doctor for a throat infection. That doctor point blank asked me if I was gay. I said yes. He then told me I had thrush which can be a sign of an HIV/AIDS infection. Because I was gay, he was immediately convinced I was HIV positive and had me take an HIV test even though I insisted I only had safe sex. I was scared to death waiting for the results. A friend of mine insisted I go see an ear, nose, and throat doctor for a second opinion. I’m glad I took her advice. It turned out I merely had a bad case of pharyngitis. When I asked about the possibility of it being thrush, he said there was absolutely no possibility of that. He had no idea why any doctor would have come to that conclusion. The HIV test came back negative, and I never saw that first doctor again. I should have reported him for the way I was treated, but I doubt it would have done any good in Mississippi in the early 2000s.

Because of that incident, I was wary of telling another doctor my sexuality. When I moved back to Alabama, I never told my doctor because my mother worked in the same clinic and had access to all the medical records. I should have gone to another doctor for more privacy, but I did not have health insurance, and this was an income-based clinic. I didn’t have to pay to see the doctor. Even when I moved to Vermont, it took a few years before I told my doctor I was gay. I did so because I was sexually active and needed to get tested for STIs. I did not suspect I had any, but if you are sexually active you should get tested regularly. My current doctor agreed with that. He is quite good-looking and genuinely nice. I am glad I have a good relationship with a doctor for the first time in my life. I can talk to him about any problems.

The first time I came out at a job was while I was working at an environmental lab in Mississippi. There were a couple of young guys who worked there, and one of them asked me out of the blue if I was gay. I said I was and went about my business. There are a few things I should tell you about this lab job. I had gotten it because my best friend’s sister was working there and recommended me even though she knew I had no experience with science. My only scientific training was two required undergraduate classes: biology and geology. Also, the owner of the lab and his son, who helped manage it, were Republicans. They once threatened to fire someone for wearing a t-shirt of a Democratic candidate. I had not wanted to come out there because of this, but I was determined not to lie. I told the friend who got me the job about the kid asking if I was gay. She was furious he would ask because it was none of his business.

After I told her what happened, she complained to our boss about the kid asking me and making me feel uncomfortable. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t much care. He was just a curious kid, and I knew he meant no harm. However, when our boss found out, he called him into his office and took him to task for being so rude. All this went on without my knowledge. The poor kid nearly lost his job for asking me if I was gay. My boss, who it turned out could have cared less about my sexuality (he really cared nothing about his employees), was actually afraid I might sue for harassment. I wouldn’t have because this was Mississippi, and it would have gone nowhere. The main issue probably was we had numerous contracts with environmentally-conscious companies and the EPA all of whom he feared were more liberal than he was. His contracts might be in jeopardy if anyone found out a gay person was harassed at his lab.

Fast forward to me teaching at the private school, where keeping my sexuality secret was imperative to me keeping my job. Eventually, I did become good friends with the art teacher. One night we were talking, and she confessed she smoked a lot of pot (something that would have gotten her fired). In turn, I told her I was gay. Her response was she’d been waiting for me to tell her that. Eventually, I also told the school lunch lady and her husband. For the longest time, they were the only ones who knew. My art teacher friend did tell her husband who was on the school’s board of directors, but that was mainly so he could protect me if it ever came to that. Later on, I found out he was not fully accepting of my sexuality. He didn’t care that I was gay, but one night we were all hanging out. I said something gay and very suggestive, mainly to get a laugh. He said, “I know you’re gay, but I’d rather not hear about it.” I never felt comfortable hanging around with him after that. One summer afternoon, we were having a pool party. The school’s bookkeeper was there. At one point the husband of the lunch lady mentioned something about me being gay in front of the bookkeeper. It turned out she was hurt because I’d never come out to her. Her brother was gay, and she had no problem with it. The thing is I knew her husband and sons had a problem with it. I’d heard them making rude remarks about gay people. 

While I had other good friends at the school, none of my other co-workers knew (officially) I was gay. One student knew; others suspected and often called me a fag behind my back. The kid I told was a distant cousin of mine. I’d always thought he was gay. We were in my classroom alone one day, and I came out to him. I don’t remember if he’d asked or how the subject came up. He never told anyone, and I knew he’d keep my confidence. For whatever reason, he kind of idolized me and would confide in me. He was a sweet kid but always in trouble. He didn’t take his ADHD medication regularly. He’s actually been to Vermont a few times, and we’ve been able to see each other. He still keeps in touch, but less so now that he has a girlfriend and is more serious about college. I still think he’s gay, though. I know he fooled around with a guy before, but it’s up to him whether he comes out or even come to terms with his sexuality. His parents would be absolutely accepting and have told him as much numerous times which may be why he won’t come out. People can be stubborn at times. I just hope he doesn’t have any major psychological troubles about his sexuality.

In my current job, they all knew I was gay when they hired me. Apparently, it was part of my first boss’ worry that my sexuality, mannerisms, and voice might be perceived as a negative by those I’d be interviewing. (Remember, when I was first hired, I was an oral historian not a curator.) The others convinced her she was wrong, that I was the best person for the job. And she was proved wrong. It has never once been an issue. However, no one said anything about my sexuality until I said something about it. The administrative assistant we had back then was bisexual, and she was the first person I told. That didn’t happen until my friend died shortly after I moved here. I was so distraught I could barely work. Through tears, I told her who he was to me, and confirmed I was gay. My university has a long-standing non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation. They have offered same-sex benefits since Vermont introduced civil unions in July 2000.

While most people know my sexuality, I still don’t tell everyone. Every situation is different. It is naturally easy to come out to some people; with others, it takes a bit of courage. I don’t hide my sexuality in Vermont, but I don’t scream it from the rooftops either. I know I will never have problems with my current boss. His best friends are a gay couple, and he was the best man at their wedding. The other curator doesn’t discriminate against anyone for race, sexuality, or any other reason. Like me, she was raised in the South and has seen enough discrimination to last a lifetime. The other Southerner, who works with us and is coincidentally my neighbor, is the same way. In fact, she is more liberal than I am and often votes for the very liberal Progressive Party of Vermont. Vermont may not be the perfect place to live, but I am blessed to be surrounded by loving and accepting friends.

Coming Out and My First Gay Bar


I wanted to clear up a possible misconception about something I wrote in Friday’s post. I had written about how my graduate school history department learned I was gay. In it, I wrote:

The first time I went into a gay bar was in New Orleans. A friend took me to one while we were at an academic conference there. She had been the first person I’d ever come out to, and she wanted to take me to the gay section of New Orleans. […] This was also when everyone at my grad school found out I was gay. For about the next week, the news of my sexuality spread like wildfire. It wasn’t that I’d hooked-up with anyone that night. I was just the subject of gossip for about a week.

Going to a gay bar in New Orleans happened the first week of November 2001. I had come out to my friend and her boyfriend the previous spring (in fact, the Friday before spring break) at a party late one night where a fair amount of drinking was involved. I’m one of those people who remembers everything when they’ve been drinking. At least that was the case when I was younger and had a better memory. I spent about two weeks wondering if all the courage I’d mustered to come out would even be remembered. I was happy to learn my friend did remember it, and we were able to discuss it when we were alone. She did so much to help me get comfortable with my sexuality. She treated me no differently, and we could easily discuss our attraction to various men. That might not sound like much, but it was something I’d never been able to do before. Before coming out to her, I had always kept everything about my sexuality completely internalized.

fullsizeoutput_212My friend and I had met originally because we shared a desk in the graduate assistants’ office. Our graduate director told me I’d be sharing a desk with an older woman who was short so I should use the top shelf attached to the desk and leave her the bottom one. It turned out that yes, she was shorter, but only a few years older. She was, and still is, a gorgeous, compassionate, and affable person. Besides sharing a desk with her, it also turned out she lived in the same apartment complex where I did. Because of these two things, we became good friends and often went to various events together. She had been an actress in Los Angeles before she moved to New York City to work on a novel. After a few years there, she moved to Mississippi to do further research for her book. She got a second degree, this time in history, and decided to pursue a PhD. She was always interested in marginalized people which is why her focus of study was on the Civil Rights Movement. Nowadays, she is the director of a women’s resource advocacy center at a major liberal arts university in the South.

She turned out to be the perfect person to come out to first. I remember the first time I spoke with her after the initial coming out. We were at a small bar in Mississippi with a patio in the back. Most people who sat back there drank beer and smoked pot in the darker corners. She and I went out there for some privacy. My sexuality changed our friendship for the better. I was able to talk to her about things I’d never discussed with anyone. I could talk about hot guys with someone instead of keeping it all in my head and acting like I was not trying to check them out. We became so much closer because of the open nature of our friendship.

Eventually, I told another friend of mine in the department early the next fall. So, when we went to New Orleans in November for this academic conference, only three people knew I was gay, and they all kept my secret.  While we were at the conference, I was staying in a hotel room with my friend and another female graduate student. The three of us were hanging out with each other a lot during that trip. On the night in question, we had been at a reception at the Presbytère, one of the buildings next to St. Louis Cathedral.

Two other guys from our grad program had latched onto us at the reception and were expecting to continue to party with us. These two guys were lecherous and obnoxious. My female friends and I wanted to get away from them. The three of us discussed what we were going to do. The guys mentioned they wanted us to go with them to Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club which had recently opened. None of us were keen to go to a female strip club so I suggested we tell them we were going to a gay bar knowing they would not follow us there. They were not secure enough in their masculinity to do that. My friend had already told me earlier she wanted to take me to the gay district of New Orleans. When I suggested going to a gay bar to get rid of them, my friend asked if I was sure. In doing so, I would essentially be coming out to these guys. I felt it was time to be out more so I said I was sure. We split with those guys and went to the gay dance club Oz at the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon.

IMG_8761Oz was a magical place. The men were beautiful and there was such wonderful energy there. The bartenders were hot, and they served strong, cheap drinks. They had nearly nude guys dancing on the bar; most in thongs, but one guy had only a hand towel covering his penis. For the right tip, that hand towel would be moved out of the way. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, and I loved every minute of it. If I’d ever had any doubts I was gay, this put them to rest. We danced for a while. I’ve never been a great dancer, but it didn’t seem to matter at Oz as long as you swayed your body to the music and “waved your hands in the air like you didn’t care.” We also sat at the bar for a while and gave tips to some of the guys dancing on the bar. I’m not sure what Oz is like these days, because I haven’t been in years, but back then it was always a lot of fun.

I knew telling the two guys we were with earlier I was gay was going to spread. There was no way they would keep that quiet. By the end of the next week, the news had spread through most of the history department, and a few professors did say genuinely nice and encouraging things to me. We went out a few weeks later for my birthday (November 30), and by the end of the month, there was no one in the history department who did not know I was gay. The reactions were mostly positive. The only negative reaction was from our one Canadian professor (ironic since Canadians tend to be more accepting) who I think was trying (and failing) to be positive, but still, I was appalled when he said to me, “Congratulations, I hear you’re a fruit.” He always was a little socially awkward and not the nicest person. Eventually, his visa ran out and he returned to Canada. He was not missed.

The point of this post is that the friends I initially came out to kept my sexuality to themselves until I decided to come out to others. I knew when I told those two guys about going to a gay bar, I was coming out to the entire history department.

Speaking and Living Our Truth

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:17-32 (NASB)

Sometimes I read a passage from the Bible, and it has a special meaning to me. It is like God is speaking to me through His Word. I think this is one of the great things about the Bible. Not only is it God’s Word, but it is also one of the ways God speaks to us. When I read a passage, the first thing that comes to my mind is usually what God is telling me. The Bible is written in a way that allows interpretations to fit an individual person. It is also written as a guide to how we are supposed to live. The passage above is sometimes given different titles according to the translation you look at: “Instructions for Christian Living,” “The Christian’s Walk,” or “The New Life.” When I read it, it really resonated with me, in what some may consider and unorthodox interpretation.

Nearly all of us have experienced something in our life that is a major turning point. Something that changes us forever. For LGBTQ people, that is often coming out. When we come out, we “lay aside the old self” and “put on the new self.” We speak our truth as to who we are. Being gay is not the only thing we are; it is most certainly a defining part of our lives, but we are also much more than just LGBTQ. Every time we authentically and courageously speak our truth, we love ourselves a little bit more. For those of us rejected by our families because of our sexuality, we give ourselves the love our family could not give us, and we reclaim our right to be heard, valued, and respected. Being seen and heard is our inherent birthright. God created us as we are, and by speaking our truth and coming out, we are claiming our authentic selves. 

When someone rejects us for coming out, we are reborn in the newness of life. It’s similar to being born again after baptism. We rise up in the newness of life. We no longer walk in the old ways. Those who rejected us are “in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” Their rejection is a hardness of their heart. Often those who rejected us quote Biblical scripture saying that we are the sinners (we are all sinners); however, it is they who are not walking with God and have hardened their hearts to our truth. For LGBTQ Christians, when we come out, we are walking with God and living as he created us, authentically and proudly.

When we come out, we leave our “old self” behind. That former person who was hiding in the closet was “being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,” and by coming out, we are renewed “in the spirit” of our mind, and put on the new self, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Therefore, we are “laying aside falsehood,” and we are speaking truth to those around us. God allows us to be angry at those who rejected us. He says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Being rejected hurts and angers us, but we need to live our truth. The psychological damage of living in the closet can be so devastating. We have to forgive those who rejected us because God tells us to forgive. He tells us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

There will probably always be people who condemn the LGBTQ community, but I think it is important that we accept ourselves and put aside our old self and live authentically. It does not matter what others think of us. Their rejection of us is their problem and not ours. They are like the Gentiles who have “in the futility of their mind” become “darkened in their understanding,” and they are “excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.” God commands us to love one another. When people put that aside because of false beliefs, they are the sinners, not us. People who are filled with hate have no place with God. They are lost in the wilderness because they have chosen hate instead of love.

So, be true to who you are. Cast away those who are toxic in your life. Get rid of those who cause you strife. Some of us can live in a kind of cold war with our families. We still love them, but we know of their disapproval. But living in the closet can do more harm to our wellbeing. It is very hard to love ourselves fully when we hide. And it’s very hard to love others when we don’t love ourselves. Therefore, the closet is a lonely place. By coming out, we  

  •        live our life honestly.
  •        build self-esteem by being honest about oneself.
  •        develop closer, more genuine relationships with friends and family.
  •        alleviate the stress of hiding one’s identity.
  •        connect with other people who are LGBTQ.
  •        are part of a community with others with whom you have something in common.
  •        help to dispel myths and stereotypes by speaking about one’s own experience and educating others.
  •        are a role model for others.

By coming out and being our true selves, we can learn to truly love God and love ourselves.

Thank You

I want to thank everyone for their wonderful words of advice and encouragement on yesterday’s post. I’m still feeling a bit down and anxious over the argument with my mother. I can’t help it. Family can be so frustrating. I have lived with my agreement with my mother that I made when I came out, which was that I would not tell anyone else in the family I am gay. (I have not lived by the agreement that I would be celibate, that was just taking it too far.) While only my parents know for certain, I am pretty sure my aunt knows. I have a large collection of books that are stored in bookcases at her house. Many of those books are gay fiction or gay history that I had collected over the years. After I moved to Vermont, she took down all my books and built new sturdier bookcases. She then placed all of my books back in the new bookcases. If she didn’t notice a theme, then…. Anyway, I’m pretty sure she knows and doesn’t care. My aunt worked for a dentist that she admired and cared for a lot; he was gay and died of AIDS back in the 1980s. She has always seemed pretty accepting of things like that.

My biggest fear is not what my parents would do, but I do fear telling my sister because since she married a complete asshole in 1998, her in-laws have brought her over to the dark side. My sister used to be laissez-faire about most social issues. She just didn’t care, and she was never political at all. However, her husband and in-laws are extremely conservative, homophobic fundamentalists. She becomes more and more like them every year, so I fear if she ever knew I was gay, she would not let me see my niece and nephew. She and they are of that mentality that gay people cannot be trusted with children.

My only hope is that the world is different enough for my niece and nephew not to have the same prejudices as their family. They are growing up in a far more accepting world than I grew up in. They are growing up in a time when LGBT couples can get married, and we can’t be discriminated against in our jobs. Things are so vastly different than they were 20 years ago. (I know, there is still much to do, but we are getting there.) I hope they will have a mind for themselves about social and political issues. They aren’t old enough yet to really understand. All they know right now is that they love their Uncle Joe. I get to see the joy and excitement in their eyes when they see me, and I hear it in their voices when I talk to them on the phone.

All of my other close relatives have passed away. In fact, yesterday would have been my grandmama’s 97th birthday. I miss her so much. I think if I’d had the courage to come out to her, she would have accepted me for who I am. I may be wrong about that, but she would always listen to reason from me, even when she was unreasonable to everyone else. I had a connection with Grandmama unlike anyone else. If she had accepted me, as I believe she would have, she would also have been my advocate and told my parents they could go straight to hell if they didn’t fall in line. That may just be wishful thinking and a fantasy on my part. I will never know what her reaction would have been, but I have faith she would have accepted me.

I will make up with my mother at some point. She will probably have to be the one to call me, and if she does, she is likely to act as if we never argued. Denial is not just a river in Egypt to my mother, it’s a way of life. She has been in denial about my sexuality since she found out I’m gay. I always hoped that one day she would accept me, but she seems to have doubled down and is more homophobic than ever. It goes along with her faith which seems to no longer be the Bible but Fox News. 

I have a fervent desire for something to happen that would discredit Trump and Fox News so badly that they would lose all of their support. They do more harm to American than anyone else. I hope that when/if that ever happens that people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and all the other Republican idiots go down hard with them. You can also throw in the Rush Limbaughs, Franklin Grahams, and their ilk with it. The hatred in America needs to end, and November is the best time for that to begin to happen.

We need to have a great movement that will change the minds of Americans. We need something that will move America away from the right and teach the American people about love and acceptance. I just hope it isn’t a great tragedy. It will probably take the Rapture* coming and no Republicans rising into Heaven, but then they would say it was a liberal conspiracy.

*By the way, I do not actually believe in the Rapture (an event in which it is believed that both living and dead Christian believers will ascend into heaven to meet Jesus Christ at the Second Coming). It is nothing more than a postmillennialism belief/hoax dreamed up by the 19th-century theologian John Nelson Darby. I use it here in jest. The lawyer I used to work for always joked “I hope I’m standing outside when the Rapture happens. I don’t want to hit my head on the ceiling.”

When Did You Realize You Were Gay?

I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. Depictions of gay people were not flattering. It seemed to me and from what my mother told me (She was a public health nurse.), all gay men had AIDS. The very few gay men I knew did die of AIDS, though it was rarely spoken about. Other depictions of gay men were flamboyant queens, sissy effeminate men, etc.

Early on, I had hints I was gay, but I ignored them. I remember being enthralled by Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans which came out in 1981; It was years later, though, when I first saw it on TV. When I started middle school, there was a new guy in my class. As usual, people were picking on me, and he told them to stop. He was the kind of guy who you knew immediately was going to be the leader of the pack. He was athletic, and my classmates didn’t question him. He was blond and had beautiful blue eyes. I had a crush, and I didn’t even know it. We were friends all through the rest of school; not close friends, but enough that when someone tried to bully me, he’d scare them away. Even the older kids didn’t mess with him. He was not a bully, but people respected him. He was just a nice guy. I had all sorts of fantasies about him. He was my masturbation material in my teenage years, yet, I did not realize I was gay.

When I was in college, I wanted to learn more about being gay, so I went to Barnes and Noble. Not only did I know this is where a lot of gay men hung out, but B&N also had books on the subject. I had to be discreet, though. The first “gay” book I bought was Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. In hindsight, that was not the best choice. It’s a good book, but it has a tragic ending. Early gay fiction nearly always had tragic endings. This kept the realization I was gay at bay even longer.

Slowly, however, I was coming to the conclusion I was in fact gay. I got some gay videos through the mail, and I read Brad Gooch’s Finding the Boyfriend Within: A Practical Guide for Tapping into Your Own Source of Love, Happiness, and Respect. Apparently, I had to learn to love myself. In college, I had a girlfriend. When we broke up, I realized I didn’t want to date girls anymore. Yet, I still couldn’t admit to myself I was gay. One summer I was housesitting for the dentist my aunt worked for. My college roommate (We lived together all four years.) was taking summer classes and living in the dorm. Therefore, we were both in Montgomery. We decided to get together at the house I was staying at and have some beers. We were getting drunk and started playing truth or dare. During the game, I admitted I wanted to suck a guy’s dick. I knew I was basically asking if I could give him a blowjob, but he didn’t take the bait. Eventually, we both went to sleep; me in one of the bedrooms, him on the couch.

It was during this time of housesitting when I got to really play on the internet for the first time. It was dial-up so it was slow, but I was able to find lots of pictures of naked men. I printed out a few to keep. This got me into trouble because my mother found them and confronted me. It was an ugly scene; I denied I was gay. I said I was only curious. From then on, she suspected I was gay, and it made me go into the closet even further. I wasn’t about to admit I was gay at that point.

I don’t know which book I eventually read (I did a lot of reading on the subject of being gay, and I have always been a consummate researcher.), but I remember reading you had to come out to yourself before you could come out to others. You had to accept yourself for who you were first. This was a difficult thing for me to do. I just couldn’t be gay. I couldn’t be all the horrible things I had been called growing up: fag, faggot, queer, homo, sissy, etc. I didn’t want to be that.

But then things began to change when I went to graduate school. I was finally on my own and away from everyone I knew. For the first time, I was safe. The move was only from Alabama to Mississippi, but it was so different being on a liberal university campus. I felt free.

I think my first honest moment of realization came sometime during the year 2000. The British show Queer as Folk had come out. Plus, there was an American show about sex I had been watching. It may have been Real Sex on HBO; I can’t remember. But whatever the show, it was discussing this shocking scene from British TV in which a guy is rimmed. I’d never heard of rimming, at least not being called that. I remember hearing one of my female friends talking about a boyfriend of hers who would move from eating her pussy to eating her ass. This fascinated me, but I never knew what it was called. So…when this show featured the scene from the first episode of Queer as Folk where Aiden Gillen licks down Charlie Hunnam’s back and reaches his butt, and there is a look of total ecstasy on Hunnam’s face (Yes, I know it was acting.), I was so turned on. I knew I desperately wanted to have that done to me. That’s when the realization hit that I might be gay.

Sometime in 2001, I finally admitted to myself I was gay. I was reading a lot about gay people. There was a story on Nifty Archives, an online site for posting stories (Do any of you remember it?), called “Educating Alex.” I remember I read the whole thing in one night and then couldn’t wait for future installments to come out. I joined InsightOut Book Club, a gay book-of-the-month club. I read all I could get my hands on. I mostly read in the summer months, though, because I just didn’t have time to read anything non-school related during the academic year. Reading positive stories about gay people allowed me to realize I could be gay, and, I could be happy.

Lately, Twitter has had people posting when they realized they were gay. It’s usually pictures of TV or movie scenes. Most of it is somewhat lighthearted. If I were to answer that question, it would be with the picture above of Charlie Hunnam’s face when Aiden Gillen first teaches him what rimming is.

So that’s my story. When did you realize you were gay?

I’ve Got Nothing

Other than Barry Manilow coming out, I’ve got nothing to say today. I’ve never much cared for Manilow, but welcome to the family anyway.

Also 100 years ago today, the United States entered World War I.

Why Coming Out Isn’t For Everyone 

Coming out is a powerful experience. It is a story that many people in the LGBTQ community have in common. Whether subtle or dramatic, disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is often met with celebration and praise. With the advent of inclusive religious institutions, scholars, and others who make a strong case of God’s love and intention behind creating queer people, it would seem that now is a better time than any to fling open the closet door.

Despite these many gains, we must exercise caution before encouraging others to come out of the closet.

While coming out can be an empowering and life-defining experience, the blinding light of excitement around the event must not obscure the danger that exists for many should such personal information become known. Disclosure of one’s sexual and/or gender identity is intensely personal, and motivated by many factors.

As vital as one’s sexual identity or gender expression is, there are other aspects of life that need to be taken into account if they are to assume the risk of disclosure.

Personal acceptance, emotional and financial independence, and safe distance from harm are only a few of the realities to consider when an individual decides to come out. If any one of these factors are not in the person’s favor, then disclosure may actually impact their ability to have basic necessities met.

Bringing up this reality might seem negative, given the current status of our religious world.

While many churches still adhere to anti-LGBTQ theology and doctrine, there is a significant challenge to that status quo. Campaigns such as It Gets Better offers advice, encouragement, and hope for those who are struggling with their identity. Groups such as The Gay Christian Network and queer clergy of all sorts of religious practices are stepping up to aid in this process.

This issue is not that these advances in the public conversations are wrong, or even that they are not evidence of progress. Rather, the concern is that these joyful accounts are often elevated at the expense of the harsh realities that LGBTQ people still have to endure.

For some, it gets better. For many others, coming out makes things worse.

At least one trans woman was murdered each month this year.

And in early June, the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando provided a harsh reminder that even our “safe places” are not truly safe from violence. Rates of homelessness among LGBTQ youth are through the roof—often the result of religious parents. Having a public gay or trans identity still puts one at risk for unemployment or employment discrimination across much of the United States.

All of these incidents are far more likely to impact queer people who are also people of color. It is a fact that coming out can lead to people coming to their end.

It is a victory to stand publicly in one’s truth. It is also true that a healthier way to honor that significant event is to make the world a safer place for people to be who they are without fear of starvation, homelessness, and death. It is important to remember that people have to “come out” because of society’s deep, unfair assumptions about who people are and how they should exist in the world.

It is not queer people who should be pushed out of closets; it should be society that is forced out of its hatred.

Coming out should continue to be celebrated. With that celebration should come the acknowledgement that it is still not safe for many to do so. The work to make the world safer for all—and to eliminate the need for “coming out” altogether—must continue.

From: Believe Out Loud (


You may already know that Colton Haynes is on the cover of Out Magazine this month. You know I can’t let that go by without commenting about the article. There are three things about the article that I want to comment on.

First, Colton says that he discovered that his ex-boyfriend was a serial cheater. Let me just say, Colten’s ex must be a true dumbass. If Colton was my boyfriend, I’d do anything and everything possible to keep him. Colton is sweet and delectable, who wouldn’t want him?

Second, Colton says that he was told that his father committed suicide after finding out that Colton had come out at age 14. That is a lot for a 14 year old to deal with, whether it was true or not. When my own mother found out I was gay, she basically lost her will to live and has suffered from depression since then. Now she just lives in denial. I don’t know what I would have done if my mother had committed suicide, which she has often contemplated.

Finally, Colton talks more about his depression and anxiety, as well as his therapist. My new doctor has convinced me to see another therapist, since my depression has not gotten much better and my anxiety level has gotten worse.

I may be overweight, ten years older, and not a celebrity, but in many ways I can identify with Colton’s struggles. As a teacher at a private academy in the south, I too had to go back in the closet after being out for a number of years. While I had to switch professions and move to come out again, I’m glad Colton was able to come out and be such an inspiration. He shows that depression and anxiety are real issues for real people, and I admire him for discussing it publicly. I can’t help it, I just love and admire Colton Haynes.

Science Friction 

It’s been a rollercoaster week for Trekkies everywhere following news that Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu — formerly played by George Takei and portrayed by John Cho in the latest reboot — is discovered to be gay and married in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Cho broke the news to Australia’s Daily Sun, saying, “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”

But Takei, to whom producers were giving a nod by turning his iconic character into a gay man, was surprisingly displeased by the news, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Following that, Star Trek writer and actor Simon Pegg, who plays chief engineer Montgomery Scott (known affectionately as “Scotty”), told The Hollywood Reporter that he “must respectfully disagree”:

“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.

“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

Now, openly gay actor Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the reboot films, has let the world know that he’s 100% in favor of the plot choice , telling Pedestrian.TV:

“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed.

“Any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema… I get it that he has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe.

“My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people, who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”

Where do you stand on the executive decision to marry off Sulu to a man in the name of representation? Sound off in the comments below.


Sulu Comes Out

Last year, George Takei told Time magazine he’d once asked “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry why the original series, which depicted biracial relationships and tackled other civil rights issues, didn’t include any LGBT characters.

According to Takei, Roddenberry told him, “I’m treading a fine tight wire here. I’m dealing with issues of the time. I’m dealing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and I need to be able to make that statement by staying on the air. If I dealt with that issue I wouldn’t be able to deal with any issue because I would be canceled.”

There have been three instances when this almost came into being. First, Commander Riker on The Next Generation had a fling with an androgynous being, but turned out that she felt more female than neutral and was “reeducated.” Then, there was Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine whom shared a kiss with a woman that she’d previously been married to as a man, both in different lifetimes. Then in the non-sanctioned web series Phase II, Kirk’s son or nephew (I can’t remember) was depicted as being in a relationship with another man. When Enterprise came out, it was rumored one of the characters would be gay, but it never materialized.

Now, one of the “Star Trek” universe’s most beloved characters is revealed to be gay in the latest installment of the iconic franchise. John Cho told Australia’s Herald Sun that his character, Hikaru Sulu, will have a same-sex partner, with whom he is raising a daughter, in “Star Trek Beyond,” which hits theaters July 22. This is one of the most exciting things I’ve heard in years.

The 44-year-old actor said that he approved of the way his character’s sexuality will be handled in the film, in that writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin opted not to make it a major plot point. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he said.

Lin and Pegg’s decision to depict Sulu as a gay man was a nod to George Takei, who played the role in the original 1960s “Star Trek” television series and in six subsequent films, Cho said. Takei, 79, came out as gay in 2005, and has since gone on to become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights.

Unfortunately, the Star Trek alum and LGBT activist spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the news on Thursday, July 7, saying it strays from creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Hikaru Sulu. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei, 79, told THR. “Unfortunately it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Its unfortunate that Takei feels that way. I think it’s a great legacy for Star Trek, the character of Sulu, and Roddenberry’s belief in equality and a better universe.