Coming Out: The Other Side of the Coin
I recently came across this article through one of my friends. The love and compassion of this man brought me to tears, and brought back a wave of memories.
Michael was one of my closest friends during high school, and we grew even closer the summer after we graduated. We were the best of friends. We had inside jokes about silly things. We spent at least one night a week just hanging out, and countless hours talking on the phone, even after seeing each other earlier that night. Our families were close friends. He was the only male allowed into my room with the door closed. We shared another bond in our Catholic faith.
We talked about dating at one point during the summer, and decided against it. I valued Michael as a friend far too much to potentially destroy that through dating. He had been accepted to the University of Washington, and I attended the local community college that Autumn. Michael was in the Air Force ROTC program that year, and he enjoyed the sense of community that it fostered. We still talked frequently, and remained very close.
One night, Michael called me, and he sounded both upset and nervous. I will never, ever, forget this conversation.
Michael: I have something to tell you, and I’m not sure how you’re going to react.
Michael: I just hope, that no matter what, we will always be friends.
Me: Michael, you could have killed someone, and it wouldn’t matter. I will love you no matter what. You’re my best friend.
Michael: *deep breath* I… I’m gay.
I was immediately thrown into a whirlwind of emotions. I was honored that he trusted and loved me enough to tell me, even though he knew how deeply I believed in the Catholic teachings about homosexuality. My heart ached for him, and I immediately understood how hard this had to be for him to reconcile with his own Catholic faith. I knew that this was the beginning of a huge struggle for him, both internally and externally with his family and other friends. I understood that my new role as his best friend was as his cheerleader, advocate, and unwavering supporter.
I was also angry. I was absolutely livid that through the church, I had been taught to believe that homosexuals were sexual deviants, depraved beings who could only be reconciled through denying their feelings and never acting on their attractions. How could my best friend, someone that I trusted and loved, be a bad person, just because he was attracted to the same gender? It just didn’t make sense.
In that moment, I started questioning my faith, and a lot of the Catholic teachings I had internalized. If I knew in my heart that they were wrong about this, then what other things had I learned that were just as wrong?
I am not sure exactly what I said after Michael came out to me. I’m sure that I was awkwardly supportive, and I probably said something ridiculous. When we ended the conversation, I hoped that my reaction had given him the courage to continue this brave journey. I’m not sure if it did, but I continued being supportive and encouraged him as he told his family and his other friends. Some people were immediately accepting, and others had to take some time to get used to the idea. In the end, the people who honestly and truly cared about Michael have become his biggest supporters, myself included. Michael is entirely responsible for helping me to become a more loving and compassionate person. Though the years have brought both physical and an emotional distance I still feel honored to be counted among his friends.
I know that it has been a long hard road for Michael, but he has blossomed into a pillar in the Seattle gay community. He is thriving, and although I haven’t been there to see most of it, I couldn’t be prouder of the person he has become. His alter ego, DonnaTella Howe was recently crowned Miss Gay Seattle 2012. Through this title, DonnaTella has been a driving force in gay rights and equal treatment in Seattle.
I love you, Michael, and I am so fiercely proud of you that it almost hurts. I am honored to be a part of your story.
Posted on April 16, 2012, in Personal Stories, Sex Positive and tagged Coming Out, emotional intimacy, LGBTQ, politics, relationships, Sex, sexual feelings, society. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.