People are a lot more decent than you expect. At least that was the lesson I learned from coming out. Up to my mid-20s, I was completely closeted. Increasingly, I realized my life was going to be lonely if I continued on that path. So over a two week period in my mid-twenties I went from being out to no one, more or less including myself, to coming out to everyone I was close to or interacted with on a regular basis. Almost everyone was thrilled. Most for me. And also for themselves – I’m a lot more entertaining to be around now.
A few, like everyone in my family, had the audacity not to care. They were just uncomfortable discussing a subject that might touch on emotions – especially when they considered the underlying issue, my sexual orientation, a non-issue. Didn’t they understand it was an issue for me and I wanted to talk about my feelings!? Actually, they had the decency not to care and not to indulge my desire to wrap someone else up in my own internal drama.
My best friend from college was the only outlier. He obviously struggled on the phone when I came out to him. He’s instinctively very conservative. But he’s also a smart and decent guy so he worked through it on his own. That was it. The sole negative reaction was one awkward phone call that resolved itself after (what I assume was) a bit of reflection. People really are decent.
On the other hand, maybe there’s a way to frame this that gives me the credit. (After all, this is my story.) Not everyone is decent. Stupid, petty, insecure, and simply cruel people obviously exist. But you can choose whether you befriend them. And even when they’re your family, you can choose not to interact with them. A large part of my professional life involves dealing with people from dysfunctional families and I just can’t understand why some people don’t tell their obviously corrosive and deranged parents to go to hell and never think about them again. If your parents or siblings are making your life worse, not better, find a new family.
Coming out and being out are great. Coming out was internally disorienting for a while which was a lot of fun. Being out is necessary for me to live my life consistent with who I am and gives me the opportunity to fill my life with great people. Fortunately, by choice or luck, I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t detract from those truths.