If I count correctly, this is only the fifth person I’ve said those words to. First was my wife, 22 months ago. Then our counselor, a month or so later (his response was hilarious!). Then to my therapist, a year after that. And then to my writer friend, who has a heart of gold. So not counting the two professionals, this is only the third person I’ve come out to!
Well, sort of. During my college years and several years after, I “confessed my struggle with homosexual temptation” to quite a few of my closest friends. The staff worker for the Christian group on campus. My best friend at the time. A girl I had dated. The vice president of the Christian campus group. A missionary organization I was applying to. My future wife. A guy who also turned out to be in the closet (and who used it against me… that was the only one that ended badly). My parents. Another best friend and his wife. With one exception, all were kind in their responses. But all shared the opinion that I also held at the time – that it would be wrong to “live the gay lifestyle.” (Ugh, I’m rapidly using up my allotment of scare quotes!)
Then for twenty years, nothing. I was married, and I never talked to anyone about it. Until 22 months ago, when I had my “second coming out” to my wife. First time, twenty years ago, it was “I struggle with homosexual temptation.” This time it was simply “I am gay.”
So last week, I did it again! A life-long friend. And it couldn’t have gone better. He listened. Was sorry to hear of the hurt in my marriage. But said it really didn’t matter to him. That he wasn’t totally surprised (my OGTs, I suppose). And that he loved me.
To top it all off, as we were hugging goodbye, he asked “so, are you OK?” and I answered “better than the average day,” which he misheard as “better than the average gay.” I laughed the whole way home.