Now seems like a good time to tell you MY coming out story. As Dan mentioned in his article: The Coming Out Story: We All Have One and Kevin in his The Gay Stigma, we do all have a story about our own struggles with coming out of the closet. I hope that as we, at Homorazzi.com, share our personal accounts of the milestone, readers who are currently struggling with the how and when of coming out themselves might in the end be helped.
I was recently asked by CBC Radio to participate in an interview about Homorazzi.com; growing up in Northern British Columbia (Terrace); and, my own coming out story. Off course, I gladly welcomed the opportunity, and will be doing the interview- live- this morning. I’ll be getting the sound clip soon to post on here at a later date.
Before moving away to finish university, I did the first two years of my studies in my hometown of Terrace at Northwest Community College. I went right into the business program immediately after graduating in 1999, as valedictorian of my class. For those first two years, I was not out to anyone and played the “straight role”. I was not comfortable with telling my friends or family, as I was not yet comfortable with it myself.
When I knew I was moving away to Victoria to finish my degree, the summer before was the first time I told a few friends- 2 to be exact. And, when I say “I told them,” I actually couldn’t utter the words “I’m Gay.” Instead, I got my friend Judy to guess what the “big thing” I had to tell her was- which took forever. My other friend, Rob, I told while camping with friends- and after a few beverages off course. That was it, I didn’t tell anyone else, but it was a relief to have finally told someone – although, of course, I swore them to secrecy.
So off I went to Victoria. About a month and a half after moving there, I met Jamie; we instantly started dating, and I was head over heels. My family and friends would call and ask: “Have you met any girls yet? Are you dating?” To which I would reply: “No, I’m too busy.” Eventually- since I was spending so much time with Jamie- I decided I would just say: “Yes, I am dating someone. Her name is Jamie.” Nice work, Patrick. Getting yourself into quite the lie there.
It wasn’t until I had been dating Jamie for about 6 months and went back to Terrace during spring break to visit my family that I decided I had to tell them. Jamie had become a huge part of my life, and I didn’t want to keep him from them any longer. To this day, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do- and I’ve even been bungie jumping!
I did it; they were supportive; and it was a huge relief- at first! After a while, I did receive a letter from my mother in the mail (which was the first and last time she has actually ever written a letter to me- other than in a card) that had some questions and concerns about everything, explaining she was having a hard time. “What about God? What about what you learned in Catholic school? Why would you choose a more difficult lifestyle?” I was kind of caught off-guard and didn’t respond to the letter for several months, during which we’d spoken multiple times on the phone as if nothing had happened.
Finally, when I moved to Vancouver with Jamie, I wanted to write back. I was ready. I told her that in Catholic school and church I was taught that God made me the way I am and loves me way I am. This was not a choice and I wanted my parents to be part of my life so that I wouldn’t have to hide such a huge part of who I am.
She never wrote back- but something had changed for the better. It took some time, but Jamie and I have gone to Terrace for Christmas, my brothers wedding, and they stayed with us several times here in Vancouver while Jamie and I were still together.
I feel very blessed to have such loving family and friends. I have been back to Terrace every year since I moved away and my sexuality has never been an issue during the visits. For many people from my hometown, I am the first gay person they have known (that they know of). No one has treated me any differently, and I am absolutely proud to come from such a beautiful and welcoming community. I was thrilled to hear that Terrace won the NHL Hockeyville competition and my mom is sending me a Hockeyville T-shirt as well (which I hear have been flying off the shelves)!
To people living in small towns, I know what you’re going through and I know the thought of coming out is hard. But, there is a whole world out there- outside of your community- and even in small communities, people are changing. You have the opportunity to be someone great and live life to the fullest. The only way you can do that is to be yourself, when you are ready. You will know when the time is right for you.