I was asked recently about my coming-out story, and since it’s Pride Month and all, I thought I’d give it a whack.
Problem is, I don’t really have much in the way of a big ol’ coming-out drama. There was no chair-throwing, never-darken-my-door fight; nor was there a hand-clutching, lump-in-the-throat heart-to-heart, that just happened to be captured on video and is now lovingly preserved on YouTube.
Just didn’t happen.
What did happen—I had an overwhelming moment of discovery one night, a big gay apocalyptic thing. It's a story I’ve never heard from anybody else.
Most guys have told me that they either always knew they were gay, or knew from a very early age. I did not.
First, understand that I was the most naïve little gayboy in the entire world. I grew up on a farm, I went to school in a nearby small town (pop. 1700). It wasn’t until college that I started to be aware of gay as a real thing, beyond being the usual topic of conversation while someone was lowering your head into a toilet. It wasn’t until later that I realized that actual people were actually gay and actually living it and weren’t necessarily getting swirlied for it.
True confession: I got through high school without a single swirly, thankyoujesus.
So, unswirlied, and unenlightened, I left the farm and headed off to a swanky East-Coast university—far, far, from home.
One evening—I was all of 17—I’d gone to see a play by myself. It turned out to be a play about gay college students. I swear I didn’t know that going in or I probably wouldn’t have gone. Afterwards, as I walked home, it occurred to me: “Is that what I am?”
Blinding flash of light, cymbal crash, blah blah blah.
“Oh my god,” I thought. “That explains so much!”
The realizations were flying at me like gym-class dodgeballs.
“That’s why I didn’t— and why I— and that thing that happened at the swimming pool, and—!” You get the picture.
By the time I’d walked the few blocks back to the dorm, I’d not only totally accepted it, I was running through every boy I’d ever met, and reëvaluating. (Cute, cute, not cute, sort of… etc.)
Honestly none of this had occurred to me before that night.
The only conclusion you can draw from this is that I must have been a remarkably dim little teenager. I’d been fantasizing about boys ever since I’d been old enough to fantasize. I knew I was way more aware of guys’ bodies than other boys seemed to be. And after I got into all that trouble at the scout jamboree, you’d think I’d have—well, that’s another story, never mind.
I’d just never put any of all that together with actually being gay and actually doing any of those gay things with an honest-to-god-real-live gay.
So. Fab moment of self-discovery.
As to coming out, the ostensible topic of this little post—I didn’t right away. For the first few weeks I thought it was a terrific secret to have. Eventually I started talking to people, or they’d ask. No one seemed shocked or even particularly surprised—certainly not as surprised as I’d been that night. After the universe gave me that big ta-da!, the rest was all sort of anti-climactic. Much like the ending of this blog post.
So that was my spectacular, life-changing eureka. May you all have one.
In the meantime, Happy Pride Month, everybody.
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Chase Taylor Hackett, a budding novelist chock full of witty and insightful observations on writing. And other stuff.