I’ve had 3 “coming outs” over the past 10 years. The first was my general, “I like boys” announcement in college; the second was my “I like older men” decision when I moved to NYC; and the third has been my “I’m into leather” proclamation I made just a few months ago. All of these have been met with shock, confusion, and concern from my friends and family. Let’s relive these key moments in my personal queer history…
I Like Boys (Scene: Early evening. Justin and his conservative Christian parents sitting rigidly in the rigidly formal living room. The ambient tick of a clock is the only sound in the otherwise silent room)
- Justin: Mom, Dad, I think I…uh…(pause)…I think I struggle with homosexuality.
- Mom&Dad: (silence) (looking away)
- Justin: sooooo…
- Mom: Well, we sort of already knew that, dear. You need to get right with Jesus.
- Justin: I don’t think Jesus really cares.
- Mom&Dad: (gasp!) We didn’t raise you like this. We can’t accept you as…as…
- Justin: As gay?
- Mom: That’s not who you are. You have tried being with a girl?
- Justin: (sighs) Yes mom.
- Mom: Well…?
- Dad: (stares silently)
- Justin: Ok anyway I’m going to try to figure this out. I’m just a guy who likes other guys…this is who I am.
I Like Older Men. (Scene: Afternoon. Inside a diner in NYC. Justin and his young pretty boy gay friend sit across from each other in a booth. Justin has a half-eaten burger in front him and his fabulous friend has an untouched salad. There is a tingle of tension between the two.)
- Justin: So about last night…
- Fabulous friend: Yeah girl, who was that old man you were making out with?? What was THAT about?
- Justin: I think I’m in to older guys.
- Fab friend: (gasps!) You like grandpas?? Oh lord…
- Justin: Ha, not exactly, but I do have a strong attraction towards men in their 40s and 50s. I guess I’m a bit of a daddy hunter.
- Fab friend: But those old men aren’t cute!
- Justin: No…they’re handsome…and reassuringly stable…and they know how to have great sex.
- Fab friend: Ok…ok…I’m trying to understand this…
- Justin: Don’t stress…it’s just who I am.
I’m Into Leather (Scene: The Eagle, nighttime. Justin and his friends stand amongst dozens of shirtless men/men in gear.)
- Justin: So you guys having fun?
- Friends: This place is nuts! OMG, what is that guy wearing around his cock? (sniffs) And it smells like BO! You come here every Thursday?
- Justin: Ha, yeah I do. The Eagle is my bar these days. I’ve sort of become a leatherboy.
- Friends: A what? (confused, but intrigued look) What does that mean?
- (Two handsome leathermen in full gear approach and stand on either side of Justin. One puts his arm around Justin’s neck, the other grabs Justin’s butt in a friendly manner.)
- Justin: These are some of my friends. So yeah, so this is who I am now.
- Friends: (gasp! in unison) Whoa…
While loved ones haven’t always understood where I was coming from, they have at least always been entertained. And with each revelation, I allow myself to be free and expose my friends to new ideas that are enlightening to them. Everybody wins! The world is full of diversity and the only way to learn about and experience that diversity is to go out and exposure yourself to it.
Now of course sometimes people don’t respect or understand why I’m gay/daddy hunter/leatherboy and in that case all I can do is hold fast to my identity and smile (much easier said than done of course). The real friends in my life have grown with me through the different phases and we’ve learned to support and celebrate each other through this evolution. The ones who don’t get it right away sometimes come back around later with a more open mind…and in the end I know that it’s ALWAYS better to proudly be myself than hiding who I am (we all know what an awful place the closet is).
So my message to you: Embrace yourselves and share yourself with those around you. By doing so we make a place in the world that is ours and help others accept that place too. This is perhaps most important in transforming our society into one that accepts homosexuals as equals and thus getting all the respect and rights that come along with that acceptance.
Maybe keep the leather a little distant and freaky…cause we do love the status as fascinating kinky leathermen.