It's hard to believe that it's been two whole years since I came out, but it has. I still remember it like it was yesterday, I was so scared, but I really couldn't keep it in anymore. I had to tell someone. And I did, on the evening of October 5, 2005. It seems that so much has happened to me in those two years, and I cannot imagine what the next two will hold.
Coming out was, undoubtedly, the most difficult thing that I have ever done, but I feel like it made me a much stronger person and a much better person. Of course, I might be celebrating the anniversary of my coming out, but in truth it is a process which will end only when I die. It isn't really that difficult anymore. I've really made a lot of strides to deal with my feelings about the issue in the 24 months since an evening of too much coffee and too much stress at an all-night diner in North Atlanta where I came out to a friend.
These days, I really feel like I've come to terms with my sexuality. It is now just a part of my life, and I mostly manage to get through the day without dwelling on it. It, as I said before, wasn't easy and I've taken many steps to get where I am today. I remember one particular turning point came during my "pilgrimage" to San Francisco. I wasn't really on a pilgrimage, but I was visiting potential grad schools on the West (Left) Coast and Berkeley is just across the bay. I suppose it was a good omen, or perhaps just a coincidence, but the day I decided to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, what did I see but a faint rainbow shimmering against the backdrop of sailboats on the bay, the Berkeley Hills pale in the distance (shown above). Yet it was in San Francisco, in the Castro--which is often called the gayest neighborhood in the world--that I realized the importance of being me first and foremost. And while this seems to be a fairly obvious statement, it was not clear at the time. I had been out less than six months and I was doing my best to find my place in the gay culture, and it was not until I had my epiphany right there on 17th Street that I was able to see that my place would be a place which was for the uniqueness of mySelf.
It's funny, for all the fear I had of coming out, my life really didn't change all that much. I, of course, am the same person that I always have been. The biggest change is the fact that I no longer feel the need to repress my feelings. Most importantly, my friends came through for me for the most part. Only a few people had anything mean to say to me, most people stood behind me, and I can never thank them enough for the support they gave me.
I suppose that there is a bit of irony in today's events. With the UM Smart Growth at Ten Conference this week, I had to get up early to go and staff the registration table. On my way down the elevator early this morning, I was irritated to hear two other occupants disparraging an upcoming power outage as "so gay." While the rest of the day was fairly uneventful, my program had its weekly happy hour in Cleveland Park and afterwards I found myself talking to one of my classmates about me being out. She was very supportive and uplifiting and it was during this conversation--in such contrast to the one I overheard this morning--that I realized that today was October 5.
I'm usually not particularly outgoing about my sexuality, but I felt the need to express it tonight. In my opinion, one's sexuality is a personal matter, something which is not to be shouted from the rooftops. However, I am not in the closet, and I don't hide. But on an evening like this one, I can't help but have one little 14th floor shout. And tonight it will be a cry of affirmation, a cry of thanks, and a cry of joy.
As I said before, these last two years of my life have been something else. So many monumentous events have happened, not the least of which has been my relocation to Washington, but it's some of the lesser things that I really look on most fondly. One of those memories was when I went to see a new movie up in Atlantic Station with some of my closest friends--those people who felt like a second family to me when I was an undergrad at Georgia Tech. It was a film that made me laugh and cry; it was a film to which I could relate, and I am particularly fond of what is perhaps the film's most provacative questions:
"How do you measure a year in the life?"
1,051,200 invaluable minutes have passed since that fateful evening. And they are minutes which I would trade for nothing.