I’m writing to tell you, among other things, that I am super gay. This may or may not come as a surprise to you. If it does: Surprise! If it does not: You were right all along! Either way: Hooray!
I didn’t want to come out. I don’t want coming out to be a thing that anyone has to do.
A short list of things I’d rather be doing than “thinking about being gay” includes (but is not limited to) writing a song, reading a book, climbing a tree, dancing a jig, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the zillionth time. Don’t get me wrong - I think it is in the best interest of everyone to strive for a greater understanding of the self. I just wish that being gay (or transgender, or asexual, or fill-in-the-blank here) was as unremarkable to the masses as being left-handed or blonde.
In a perfect world, nobody would have to experience any of the negative side-effects of figuring out that you’re gay, which can include feeling confused, shameful, afraid, lost, or alone. In a perfect world, everyone could just like who they like, and get on with it.
Spoiler alert: We do not live in a perfect world.
I began to realize that I was interested in girls in junior high. At first, it made me uncomfortable. I grew up in a fairly rural, conservative town. I knew exactly one kid who was out at school, and he was harassed on a daily basis. I had always sort of liked feeling different from most of the kids at school – you know, poetry over football and whatnot. But I didn’t want to be THAT different.
My feelings were further complicated by my religious upbringing. My family attended a born-again style church which taught (as many churches do) that homosexuality is a sin. The price of that sin, should you find yourself unable to turn away from it, was to burn in a pit of fiery torment for all eternity. I was an impressionable kid, and hell was advertised to me as very real - and very likely, if I didn’t watch my step. I internalized these ideas as a child and as I grew, they grew with me.
But other growth was happening simultaneously. Over time I got more comfortable with myself, lost a few friends, and made some new ones.When I began my journey as a musician, I decided that I didn’t want to publicly address my sexuality. I didn’t think it was a big deal, or relevant to my job in any way. I also worried that the first word people would associate with me was going to be “gay” instead of “musician.” I didn’t want a non-musical part of myself overshadowing the musical part. Plus I figured it wasn’t anybody’s business.
I still maintain that it is not anybody’s business. I don’t think anyone should have to feel an obligation to come out. I don’t think that outing people is cool. I think every person has the right to privacy, and should be able to share themselves with their friends, their family, and the world at their own pace, in their own time. However, I’ve come to realize in recent months that a big part of my desire to hide this aspect of myself was rooted in those dusty old feelings: that there is something wrong, something bad, something less-than about being gay.
It brings me no pleasure to admit to you that I have felt these feelings. I want to appear strong, because I feel strong now. But at the same time I know it is important - perhaps even the whole point of writing this thing - to make myself vulnerable. Because I know that there are human beings out in the world who understand these feelings but cannot give them a name. I want to tell you that it’s okay to feel messed up. Feeling messed up is a part of life, but it is not the only part. And the only way out of that feeling is through.
This summer I am going to marry my fiancé. Her name is Kristin Russo and she is one half of the team behind EveryoneIsGay.com. Having a firsthand view of the work that she and Dannielle do has been inspiring, and has also made me think more critically about my decision. What kind of a message does it send to a teenager when I avoid a question about my sexuality? Whatever the answer, I’m confident that it is no longer a message I am comfortable sending.
I think it is damaging and isolating for young people to look out into the world and not see a representation of their experience. To encounter others who are like you is to know that you are not alone. Even if you never meet them in real life, these representatives help to contextualize you – they are proof that you are part of something.
You are not an anomaly. You are not a mistake.
I am thankful that in recent years, it has become a bit more common for people from all walks of life to step forward and identify themselves as human beings who also happen to be gay. I am proud to offer my voice to that expanding chorus.