I saw the picture you posted on Instagram — do you have a boyfriend?
Anyone who has gone through the process of coming out knows (or soon finds out) that you never do it just once.
When I came out to my family, I had just ended my first relationship with a man — a feeling that was both terrifying and exciting. While I had come out to most of my friends in San Francisco, I had decided it was unfair to be with another person who was hidden from my family.
So, I booked a flight home with the intent of saying two words: I’m gay.
There are few moments in my life I remember as vividly as that one. How I sweat through my shirt. The subtleties of reactions from each member of my family. The incredible feeling of relief to share with them a part of me that had been hidden for most of my life.
Since that afternoon, I’ve come out countless times. Each memorable in a different way.
- At a work related event, correcting someone who told me my ‘girlfriend’ was a lucky one.
- Through Venmo, after two friends noticed I was sending payments with some combination of 👬👨❤️👨🍷💕🍆🍑.
- Via Tinder, when an acquaintance told a mutual friend, “I didn’t know Josh was gay”. (she didn’t, either)
- Through Instagram, verbatim with the text message above.
- By holding hands with another man in San Francisco and being called ‘faggots’ from a passing car.
Nowadays, coming out is a casual mention of my boyfriend, or a switch in pronouns when talking about partners — a sign of progress, in my opinion.
It did, however, take some time to get to this point. For years I experienced these moments with a sense of anger. Feeling frustrated that my sexuality needed to be a discussion, or that straight people didn’t need to spend their days saying, “by the way, I’m straight”.
Now, with plenty of reflection and practice, I’ve learned to embrace these moments as opportunities for empathy and connection — moments that very well can become the catalyst for others to better…