Gays, how did you "come out"?

To friends?

To family?

To coworkers? (if at all)

Was it a group announcement? Individually?

1963, college freshman. I had just been de-virginated, and my bf and I were home (different cities) for Christmas break. He wrote me a letter, and it was quite explicit. I stupidly left it, open, on the table next to my bed. My mother found it and read it and confronted me. I couldn’t exactly deny anything.

There are huge differences between 1963 and 2010. Back then, ***nobody ***was pro-gay. It would have been like today’s pro-serial killer or pro-pedophile. The most liberal attitudes were that it wasn’t our fault, and nothing a therapist couldn’t cure. So . . . my mother sent me to therapy. I went a few times, then the therapist told my mother that I wouldn’t be “cured” until I was ready, and to give me more time. (It’s almost 50 years later, and I’m still not ready to be “cured.”)

My mother wisely didn’t tell my father for a while (he would have exploded), but she did tell my aunt. And telling my aunt anything meant telling the entire family. Since I was going to school out of town, I wasn’t around to get their reactions. But I know the reactions were negative, because that’s the way things were back then.

And by the way, there was no such thing as “out” then, and nothing resembling “pride.” I knew a couple of other guys at college who were open about their sexuality and a lesbian couple, but we were a tiny minority and not highly-regarded by others, especially other gay people. The closet was huge and crowded back then . . . until 1969 and Stonewall.

I came out at work, sometime in the mid-70s. For the first decade or two it wasn’t easy. Now it’s no big deal.

Oh, that’s awful. Was it really something she had never suspected? And how do you get along with your parents these days?

Technically the first person I came out to (not counting experimentation w/ other boys) was my Spanish teacher. We we doing some exercise where we wrote about ourselves in the future (using future tense) and described our future family. I used esposo instead of esposa. Instead of just handing our papers back she called each student up to her desk in turn to go over them. She assumed I made a mistake and meant to write esposa (wife). I told her that was deliberate and I know esposo means husband, not wife. She paused for a moment and said “Oh, then this correct” and changed my score accordingly.

bro_mcl was the first to find out – I think before I even came out to myself, really – and it was a pretty embarrassing way. (Never mind.)

The first person I intentionally told was my English teacher. We had to keep a journal for her class, and I wrote it in there. She made some supportive comments.

I told my mom about a month after that. She was very positive. She cried a bit out of worry of how I might be treated, but that’s kind of her job.

I didn’t have a very good relationship with my dad at the time, so I didn’t want to tell him mostly because I didn’t want to tell him anything. I finally did when I got tired of sneaking out of the house to go to my gay youth group. There were a few things we had to clear up, but he was generally supportive. It was sort of the least of our worries. Actually, after I moved out of my parents’ house, he called me up in a snit one day that summer because the neighbour at the cottage had said something homophobic, and he and Mom came to Pride that year, which was a start to a certain thaw between us. Which was good, because he died three years later.

I started living openly in my first year of cegep, when I was 16. I came out to my extended family at Thanksgiving that year, since I only see them then and at Christmas more or less. We were all sitting around the turkey, and my aunt goes, “I think we should take a moment to recognize the fact that this is cousin_mcl and mr_cousin_mcl’s first Thanksgiving with us at the cottage as a married couple!” And everyone went, “Aaaw!”

So I blurted out, “As long as we’re talking long-term relationships, I’m seeing a boy called Tom!”

And there was complete silence…

…and then my aunt said, “Okay! Who wants pie?”

So that went quite well, I felt.

I don’t think I was ever in the closet, at least not about being attracted to guys.

Back in high school my 2 best friends were gay, I hung out with the goth crowd, painted my nails a variety of colors, and was openly Wiccan, so everyone just assumed I was gay.

Now when I started dating women, that came as a shocker to everyone.

The things people do to get a good grade.

Hooray for aunts! :smiley:

I’m a few years younger than Panache45, I guess, but I absolutely remember what it was like in the period he talks about. I was in total denial (as much as I could be with daily and nightly fantasies about other guys) to myself, not to mention other people, until well into my 20’s. I still wonder if the effects of those feelings all through my childhood and adolescence will ever really go away.

The only people I directly came out to were my sister (I was 29, she was totally surprised) and my parents (about 13 years later, they were not surprised).

Other than that, it has been mainly a process of gradually feeling more comfortable with dropping my beads whenever it was natural, and letting people figure it out or not, as they saw fit. Sometimes it comes up in conversation, and I almost never try to hide anything. I have a photo of myself and my partner on my desk at work, and have had for most of the time we have been together.

One time, maybe 15 years ago or so, I was training a new younger guy at work, and he seemed a bit uninvolved or put off or something, until he saw the photo on my desk. He pointed to it and said “I’ve got one of those.” I said “What, a picture frame?” It was pretty much a reflexive response, I guess I was still uncomfortable being direct about being gay with someone who was a stranger. I don’t think I would make the same response today.
Roddy

Back then, people thought all gay men acted like Liberace. Since I didn’t act like him, nobody would have suspected. Both of my parents are deceased now, but they both had become very supportive.

My mum died when I was 16 and dad when I was 11 so there was no need to come out to them.

I never really was “in” so I never had any issue coming out. If somene asked me, I’d tell them but I didn’t say anything till they asked. It was a much bigger deal in the early 80s with AIDS, because everyone assuemed every gay male was infected and you didn’t know how you could get it. Most people thought you could get it from causual contact.

Once I was 40 there wasn’t a need to come out, 'cause everyone thinks if you’re over 40 and ever married you’re gay.

Came out to my GF first. After trying to be straight and it not working very well. I told her ‘I can’t do this I’m gay’. I was 18 at the time.

Came out to my older brother almost immediately after.

Once I had accepted I was gay to myself I felt empowered and be dammed anyone who had a problem with it. That was the trigger to a hypomanic episode. Being crazy and in a euphoric state made coming out to people easier.

I went from being closeted to out to everyone except those at work in a week. No group announcements, just me telling any friend I came across I was gay. Plenty of family drama following that. While I now have a good relationship with all my father and all my siblings. My relationship with my mother is still odd, her religious beliefs(Mormon) have thus far prevented her from being supportive of me or my relationships.

Work took a bit longer for me to come out at. I had been working for Home Depot a little less then a year, most people knew me as having a GF. The difficulty of explaining the change to family and friends was much easier then to people I hardly knew but worked with. I took a promotion into a new store. Stepping into a new work place I made it a point to be out.

I do not fit peoples gay stereotypes, most people I deal with assume I’m straight. I actively try to out myself to anyone I talk to but without making that the focus of a conversation. Being out is important to me but I find it a difficult balance between sharing unnecessary information and simply being myself.

You know I tend to think people that were ‘ever’ married and over 40 are straight myself.:wink:

here is your ‘n’ I think you lost it

This is a funny thing, isn’t it? I don’t know very many people at all who do fit what one thinks of as a gay stereotype, and yet there are people about whom it seems relatively easy to tell, and on the other end of the spectrum, people I would have expected were gay who turned out not to be.

Needless to say, my gaydar isn’t very strong. And perhaps also needless to say, I wish people in general would not deal so much in stereotypes as they do.
Roddy

An ongoing process.

The first person I came out to was a friendboy (a guy I had a crush on but we were never romantically involved due to-- well, long story), then to my favorite cousin, and to a few other “high level security clearance” friends.

By my late 20s I was pretty much openly gay to all of my friends and I was dating. I never came out to my mother exactly but she learned an important lesson in “why not to read your grown son’s private correspondence” when I was about 30. Putting it mildly it did not go well (involves pistols, a suicide note, a high speed profanity fueled chase, etc.).

Today the only person I’m not out to is my RABIDLY Fundamentalist and “Obama is the anti-Christ” believing sister. I would say that I’m pretty sure once she learns we’ll never speak again, though I don’t know that- there is no rhyme nor reason to how people react, but her views on faggots being clear as a cut crystal art deco vase it’s a probability. The reason that I’m not out to her is the reverse of what most people think though: it’s not that I fear losing her so much as I fear her losing me; she has essentially no close friends and neither of us are particularly close to our brother and that’s about it for the family, and frankly I think she needs me.
I make her laugh, am there when she needs me, and we’re the only two people who really can relate to our very odd childhood experiences [e.g. if I say of our mother ‘I miss that manipulative crazy old bitch’ she’s the only one who completely understands all components of that, not least of which is how you could miss a woman who did and said the things she did]; I have lots of friends, she has essentially none (save for a benign growth who hangs around her that she loves but doesn’t like).

I know from talking with other gay and lesbian friends that there are more in this situation than you might expect: the “people you don’t come out to not because you can’t handle losing them but they can’t handle losing you”. It’s also very strange that in some ways I am closer to my sister than I am to anybody on Earth because of shared experiences and the fact that warts and all I genuinely like her, but at the same time in some ways I’m closer to people I see in the break room at work and whose names I don’t even know than I am to her (they know I’m gay, she doesn’t). Many other gays can also relate when I say that the only conceivable way that she doesn’t know I’m gay is cognitive dissonance: she doesn’t want to know, therefore she refuses to see it and will gladly use any kind of psychological duct tape and 310 moving parts to not see it.

As far as stereotypes, I fit some but not others.

On the stereotypical plus side: I love showtunes and about the only thing I enjoy less than watching sports is playing them.

On the stereotypical debit side: I’m about as far removed from a fitness buff, neat freak, or design enthusiast as you can get without being The Who’s TOMMY and I’m about as promiscuous as your typical oak tree.

In gestures, voice, and mannerisms I’m in the “could go either way” category.

Funny thing about coming out: Just when you think you’re “totally” out in every possible respect, something comes along to push you out a little further. It’s indeed a lifelong process.

I find also that the older I get the less interested I tend to be in any type of respectful honest rhetorical debate on the morality/immorality/ethics/origins/etc. of homosexuality and more of the “Because 'Go fuck yourself you ignorant stupid douchebag, that’s why!” mindset where any type of ‘justification’ or debate about gay rights is called for.

It’s hard to say because I never really did. What I mean by that is that even as a little kid, I knew something was different about me. My first crush was on a boy when I was about 5. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I had a word to describe what I already knew about myself. (I was homeschooled and raised in a very conservative christian family)

As I came to realize that ‘gay’ is what I was, I just kept on being who I already was. The first person I really talked to about it was a lesbian manager at the Wendy’s I worked at when I was 16. We had some great chats and she was a big help to me. With my immediate family, there was no big ‘I’m gay’ moment, it was more of ‘we all know, we’re just not going to talk about it’ thing for many years.

Over the years, the number of people that I’ve had to actually say the words to have been fairly few. It actually surprises me when someone doesn’t already know. I should also add that I really appreciate the gay folks that came before me to make is as relatively easy for me as it was and that it’s even easier for gay kids now.

Wow Sampiro, I had no idea you had a sibling who doesn’t know you’re gay. I don’t follow all of your writing with a magnifying glass, but I figured you guys were all close enough (in a crazy sort of way) that there’d be no secrets. Or even that you’d be mistaken for straight :slight_smile:

Must really suck to hear her speak her mind on the subject :frowning: