“Gay friendships often create an alternative to family, a link more compelling than blood.”
I have said in the past that I have two families. I have the family that I was born to, with whom I share blood. And I have my second family, my gay family. My gay family is made up mostly of homosexual men but into the mix are thrown a few straight allies. At the core of this family are my closest friends- they share my secrets, they share my experiences, they share with me who they truly are. I love all of my friends, but there are things about me and experiences that I have had that my straight friends cannot relate to.
My straight friends do not know what it is like to live in the closet. To question who you are and why you are the way you are and why everyone else makes it out to be so wrong- even if that wrongness is self-imposed out of fear of being different or disappointing others. My gay friends know this. They know what it is like to hide a part of yourself. I am not defined by my sexuality, but it is integral to who I am and the way that I experience life. To deny it, to live a life in the closet is difficult, it is painful, it is full of fear
“It is the closet that is our sin and our shame.”
I always knew there was something different about me. But it wasn’t until I was twenty when I could first utter the words “I’m gay”, in saying so I was liberated. I knew that what was to come would be difficult but I knew that it had to be done. I started by telling my close friends, at that point all of whom were hetero. I had no gay friends until a new employee came along at work and in him I found the first person in whom I ever felt I could truly confide. Over time he helped me to understand that I am not wrong, that I am not broken. It would be a few years before I would be able to tell my parents and upon telling them I learned that I had nothing to fear. My parents still loved me. My friends did not run away. My world did not fall apart.
Not everyone has this same experience. Some respond with love and acceptance. Some respond with indifference. Some respond with neglect and still some respond with violence. My friends have all been met with varied responses, but regardless of how our coming out experiences differ we all still share in that guilt and crippling fear. I could preach to closeted homosexuals until I am blue in the face that coming out is a relief, which it is, but until society comes to accept us for who we are and not for whom we love, then we will all still face some degree of fear and guilt while in the closet.
“There is no torment in coming out. The torment is being in.”