Millions of gay men have achieved the first steps of coming out.
- Told their friends
- Told their siblings
- Told their parents
- Told their favorite co-workers
- Attended a pride march
- Had sex with a man
- And some have even begun to realize that folks who don’t like gay people are the ones with the problem.
Coming out has lifted a huge burden from their lives.
The first step is always the most difficult. However, from time to time, it is important to determine whether or not there is value in taking the next step.
Do you ever experience these more subtle experiences of being in the closet?
- You let go of your partner’s hand when children are present.
- You track your wrists for limpness.
- You introduce your husband as “Daniel”, rather than “my husband Daniel”.
- You don’t dance with your boyfriend at weddings.
- You don’t tell the hotel reservationist the name of your guest.
- You change the subject when people assume you are straight and ask if you have a girlfriend.
Does any of that small stuff matter? What difference does it make if you choose to live a little under the radar?
And isn’t being gay just about what you like to do in the bedroom? It’s private and none of their business, right?
Being gay is not just about what you do in bed.
Being gay is also typically about:
- What you do on the weekends
- What shows you watch
- What cafes you visit
- Which movie stars you like
- Who catches your eye at the gym
- What advertisements you look at
- How you prepare your taxes
- Which charities you support
- Whether or not you can get fired for being gay
- Whom you voted for
In short, it impacts what most people talk about every day and how they interact with the world around them.
Coming out is a lifelong process. However, if you choose to stop at a certain stage you may be depriving yourself of feeling fully alive.
And you could feel less connected to the human race.
And it may be why you often feel “less than” rather than “equal to”.
I’m not trying to encourage you to be the “perfect” out gay man, or to come out in all situations. The fact is almost every gay man hides his gay identity at times. Even gay men who run Gay Therapy Centers.
Olympic skater Adam Rippon may be the only person who is comfortable being his gay self everywhere. At least that what it looks like on TV. I admire him for it.
The goal of this post is to inspire you to take the slightly scary next step in your growth. Why? Because after of 100 years of research and clinical practice the field of psychology has shown that authenticity is one of the most important measures of a satisfying life. It is a core aspect of successful relationships, including the relationship we have with ourselves. You know this already because it’s the main reason you came out in the first place.
Guardedness can lead to light depression. Each time hide we are quietly telling ourselves that we aren’t quite as good as the presumably straight person we are talking to. That we are just a little bit gross for being gay.
A tiny piece of your pride dies when you avoid or deflect. In that moment we stop growing. Life gets a bit easier and safer, but also a little less bright.