Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coming Out Stories

I've shared my own coming out and self-acceptance stories on this blog more than once, so I decided to share some stories from other people this time.

The Advocate is currently doing a special on coming out and has 11 short writings from gay people about their own coming out experience. The letters are as unique as they are touching, and they really provide some great perspective on what it's like to be gay and have to come out. Check out the stories here and here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I Used to Hate Being Gay

I used to hate being gay.

I really did. I mean really hate. Just like this guy hates being gay.

Every night when I said my prayers before going to bed, one prayer that I was always sure to say was to ask God to make me stop being attracted to other guys. I'm talking about thousands of prayers just about that one issue. Trust me, I hated it.

It just wasn't a religion thing for me, although that was certainly part of it. It was also a life goal thing and an acceptance thing. I always dreamed about having a wife and kids, being the perfect kid, all of that stuff. And up to that point all of the gay people I had ever seen were the ones I saw in the media. Not really the greatest role models, to say the least. Being gay was going to get in the way of all of my dreams, and I hated it.

So, I kept praying and stressing--constantly, but nothing really changed.

My life was never really that terrible during those years, but it certainly isn't what it is today. I used to get angry easily, and I was always paranoid that someone would find out. Even as I started to acknowledge that I was gay and that it probably wasn't going to change, I fought hard to make it stop. I'm sure I hurt some people along the way, and even today I can't help but think of what I might have missed out on while I was trying so hard to be someone I wasn't.

So, slowly, then almost all at once, I went from hating being gay to dealing with it and then embracing it. When I was starting to come out a friend told me he was happy he was gay and that he'd choose to be gay if he had it all to do again. At the time I was floored. Today I don't think I'd go that far, but I don't hate being gay anymore--it's part of who I am, and even if it has its obstacles, I'm probably a better person for it.

I look back now and can't really imagine what my life would have been like had I never come out. I wouldn't have my boyfriend in my life, that's for sure. Come to think of it, I wouldn't have had anyone in my life romantically. Funny that when my dad was so upset about my being gay he never realized he was asking me to be alone. I think now he realizes what it all means. He still doesn't understand, but he's slowly figuring it all out.

I used to go through what this guy was going through--he hates being gay, just like I did. And I used to deal with the questions Jay is still struggling with. I don't anymore, and I'm glad. For all of the heartache and pain coming out and accepting being gay was, I realize that I'm infinitely happier, more confident, and more successful than I ever was before. Being gay wasn't something I chose, but choosing to come out and not continue to live the unfulfilled life I was dealing with then was the best decision I've ever made.

Now I just have to convince the rest of the world that.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Joel Osteen on Gay Marriage

A reporter recently asked Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America, what he thought of homosexuality, and he said, "I don't think it's God's best,"... "I never feel like homosexuality is God's best." But, the Pastor went on to say that he doesn't feel like homosexuality is his issue and that all people should know that God is here for them.

I, of course, disagree with Joel about being gay not being "God's best," but I'm glad to see his qualification later. My stance has always been that if gay is a sin like any other, why are so many people paying so much attention to the issue, especially when all the negative attention serves to do no more than push gay Christians away from the church. So kudos to Joel Osteen for sticking to his beliefs while still remembering to witness about God's love.

Unfortunately, the Southern Baptist Seminary President thought Osteen's remarks of love were so blasphemous that he called them "simply pathetic" and chided Joel for not being more judgemental (he really said that). Maybe sending gays to hell is in the President's plan, 'cause he's certainly not helping any gays get to heaven with an attitude like that. My question is: Does he care?

For more on the story, check out Good As You.

On a side note- for those of you not familiar with Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church, which is in my hometown, the church is so big it now occupies the arena where the Houston Rockets once played. They actually had to build more seats to when they bought the arena to accommodate their tens of thousands of members, though.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On Jim McGreevey

If you've been watching any of the talk shows recently, I'm sure you've seen Jim McGreevey, New Jersey's former mayor and new gay poster boy, making the rounds talking about his new book and his fall from grace/rise to fame.

I've got some mixed feelings about Jim McGreevey. My main problem stems from the fact that the only reason we know who Jim McGreevey is--the only reason he is in the public eye--is because of some amazingly terrible decisions he made. Don't forget that Jim McGreevey never really chose to come public about being gay. And if rumors hadn't been swirling, he probably never would have made the jump out. This is a man that was forced out of the closet--someone who was firmly against gay marriage as a politician. To put it simply, he wasn't an ally until the gay community had something to offer him. Yet now that he finds himself in a situation like this, where rumors were so rampant that he had no choice but to come out, he is all of the sudden some sort of gay hero. Should we really give him a pass for his past anti-gay political stances and all of his wrong doings just because he happens to have the spotlight right now?

Don't get me wrong, I think the moves the former Governor is making now in favor of gay rights are the right ones. I just have a problem with him seemingly getting a pass on the series of horrible choices he made to get him where he is today. We should applaud him for now using his notoriety for good, but isn't there some gay person out there that we can focus on that didn't cheat on his partner, have back alley sexual encounters, and compromise his public office before finally doing good for the gay community? Can't we find that person to champion?

I don't know, maybe I've already forgotten how hard the closet is (although, trust me--his description of being in the closet were very poignant for me). Maybe I'm just a little more conservative than my friends gave me credit for. In the end, it all just seems a little to rosey for me right now.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Gayest and Greatest Colleges

Reader Shorty pointed me to a NYT article (free registration may be required) about a new college guidebook that will help GLBT students decide which colleges are the most accepting in the country. The book, called The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, is the first one of its kind since way back in 1994. That suprised me. With all of the gay organizations out there, I would have assumed there would have been something like this already out on the market.

The book lists the top 100 most accepting colleges and universities in the nation, but it doesn't rank them--saying the prize of "most gay friendly" campus is always going to be subjective, which makes sense to me. However, in speaking of the subjectivity of the book, one student commented that he was surprised that Duke University made the list when it was listed as one of the most homophobic schools in the nation by the Princeton Review in 1999. Maybe Duke has made some huge strides recently, but I'd be willing to guess that it has more to do with the decision-making factors that the two books used to come to their decisions.

I personally think the book is a good idea. Choosing a college is an incredibly huge decision, and if nothing else, students can use it as one of the many resources to help guide them to making one of the biggest choices of their lives. The NYT article also mentions that progressive or liberal straight students may also take interest in the book to help them find more liberal campuses. I wonder if the opposite would happen with conservative students and families. Can you imagine a conservative family telling a student he or she couldn't go to a particular college because it was too gay? You've got to watch out for those gay indoctriniation camps, you know.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CNN Anchor Thomas Roberts is Out

Speaking of the closet, Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts came out recently at this year's Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association conference (incidentally, Fox News gave a nice little chunk of change to the group this year, so cheers to them).

I guess I'm not the only one coming out these days. Ok, just kidding, but it's always great to see high profile folks like this come out and be themselves.

Hat Tip: Box Turtle Bulletin.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Long Road Home

Sometimes it's fun to go reading through old emails, and the fact that I have had the same email address since early college makes that pretty easy.

Earlier today, in a search to find some photos for my myspace profile (I'm a dork, I know), I came across an email I wrote to a friend of mine who was having a pretty rough time dealing with being gay, coming out, and moving to a new city.

Here's what I said to him:

"I was basically emotionless for several years before I came out. A lot of pent up rage and stuff, but other than that, no emotions at all really. It sucked. It took me really having to accept myself and trying to go out and be myself to help me overcome that. I still have to deal with stuff like telling half of my family and all, but I have made a lot of progress.

J and our other friend like to laugh at how much I've changed since they first met me. They always call my openness "leaps and bounds" from when I first started dealing with it. I also think it is good for me to not fit into the stereotypical gay profile. Both for people that don't know many gay people and for other gay people that may be in the closet and think that all gays fit the stereotype. I guess I think I'm a good example of why stereotypes don't always fit. And, it took people like that to really make me realize how narrow minded I had been."

For way too long I made myself emotionless to try to deal with being gay. I figured if I didn't show emotions, I could more easily ward off being gay, I guess. I didn't realize how weird that made me feel until pretty recently. I wouldn't say it was bad (if you don't have emotions, you can't be depressed), but I think my relationships suffered, and in the end, you can only go without emotions for so long before it catches up with you. And for me, it hit in a pretty big way. Nothing serious, just a nearly all night crying session when all the pent up feelings came rushing back one night.

All that aside, one of my biggest fears when dealing with coming out was that every gay person I knew was nothing like me. I like sports and competition, and I'm just generally not that interested in show tunes, Madonna or Cher. Somehow I had managed to fall victim to a ridiculously narrow stereotype, and it took me actually getting out and meeting other gay people before I realized how off-base my perceptions were. It was that first step getting out with other gay people that enabled me to realize that there were other guys out there like me, and that I could be both happy and gay. It was a realization that was a long time in coming, but one that I am forever glad I came to.

Don't get me wrong, I think gay people that don't want to pursue romantic relationships with the same sex are entitled to their own decisions, and in some ways I admire them for that. I'm just pretty sure that the closet (keeping it all bottled up and hidden away) isn't a happy or healthy place for anyone. Unfortunately, most gay people don't realize that until they finally come out of the closet, not before. And, most anti-gay folks don't ever come to that realization, which means they ask more of gay people than they ever would of themselves.

So, things have changed a lot for me. But, they've been good changes. I was even just complaining to my mom the other day that while in New Orleans I felt left out because I didn't know the plot line to "Mommy Dearest" or all of the words to "It's Raining Men." Sure, that isn't all gay people are about, but sometimes it's nice to indulge a little bit and not feel guilty about it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ex-Gay TV Show

Per Pam's House Blend, The Sky Angel Satellite Network will be producing an Ex-Gay TV show called "Pure Passion" hosted by none other than Alan Chambers, among others.

I didn't see any details about the format of the show, but the fact that it's going to have hosts is making my imagination run wild. Pam speculates that it might be a "Survivor" type of show--I doubt that, but man that would be interesting. Regardless, you can rest assured that I plan on finding a way to watch it.

I'd also like to point out that Alan Chambers is the author of a new book called God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door. I commented over on the post at Ex-Gay Watch that if Alan Chambers does not realize that using the term "the homosexual" is offensive to gay folks (which he claims adamantly he was unaware of in the comments at XGW), then why should anyone trust him to be an expert on gay, or even ex-gay, issues?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Post Event Depression

I went to New Orleans for Labor Day this past weekend, and I had so much fun. I love New Orleans and have probably been there 15 times in the last 6 or so years. I was glad to see that the tourist parts of the city have pretty much rebounded. I'm sure there is a lot of work to do to get the city completely back, but they are definitely making strides.

Anytime I go to New Orleans I have an amazing time. Granted, it's easy to have fun when you are basically on vacation for 3 days straight, but one day I think I am going to have to move there. In fact, now that I think about it, I should have gone to school there to get it out of my system.

So, now I'm sitting here at work, back to the real world having post event depression. This happens to me pretty much everytime I go away somewhere and have too much fun. It'll pass I'm sure--it always does. Maybe I shouldn't let myself have fun anymore so I don't have to deal with the downer week after I get back.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Coming Out

I'm not sure if I've said this before, but if I had it all to do over again, I would have come out earlier. Too much needless agony staying in the closet. Too many missed opportunities.

Then again, I'm sure I'll have to look back here and remind myself of this post when I need help coming out to more people later.