Why should I come out of the closet?

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Answered by: Christopher, An Expert in the Coming Out Category
To come out of the closet is no easy feat. I was one of the many lucky ones; I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and had parents who attended liberal universities. For me, it was an internal struggle.

When I was eleven, I first started to see pictures of nude men on the internet. It was hard for me to grasp that I found these images arousing-- I chalked it up to simply being envy: 'I see this man and I want my penis to look like his,' or, 'That man has a very nice chest. I wish I had that!' It was my simple pre-teen way of rationalizing the viewing of homosexual-oriented pornography.What was required of me to come out of the closet to myself was not so simple. Telling my father was easy. (For many queer youth, the mother is usually a lot easier, but trust me, she followed later that day.) My battle was telling myself it was OK. It took me ages to realize that I had internalized this battle. Once I was living in New York City I surrounded myself with other gay men who felt the same way. We would go to clubs and make fun of the other guys who were parading around to Lady Gaga and things that I honestly felt no connection to. It finally hit me-- I hated them because I hated myself.

There are a lot of ideas of masculinity that are thrown around, especially in American culture. It was bored into my mind that I had to be "masculine" in order to be fully accepted into the LGBT community. There was something so unappealing about being more "fem" or being a bit flamboyant. I soon realized that I was hating those things in other people because I hated them in myself. I loathed the fact that I wanted to wear earrings and I wanted to dance in short shorts to music that had no meaning-- so I started to shun it in other people.When you think about coming out of the closet, ask yourself one thing: are you coming out to be more honest about yourself or are you doing it because you feel pressured? Coming out doesn't mean you immediately have to like the latest pop starlets and wear glitter. Coming out is the process of being honest with yourself and others-- although the others MUST come later. Take a moment to think to yourself about your personality. No one will judge you, because the only person you are talking to is yourself. What things do you like? Do you like listening to pop music or is something else more your taste? Do you want to wear tight clothes or are you more relaxed?

Thought about those things? Good. Now forget those and think about sex.

Your sexuality isn't comprised of those facets that we consider "gay." There are plenty of gay men who enjoy stereotypically masculine things and plenty of homosexual women who are quite feminine. Your sexuality means nothing more than who you choose to engage with sexually and romantically. Cut yourself some slack.

You're going to be OK. The first step is simply being honest with yourself. After that, the "why" is up to you. There are many reasons why you should come out to other people:

To be more honest with them and be able to pursue a real relationship

To find friends who accept you for who you are

To not have to endure lying to family and friends anymore

To connect on a non-sexual level with other people going through similar things

The list goes on. Coming out is a hard time, but trust me, when you're ready to do it, you know.

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