Coming Out Stories Gallery - Mikey
Diana Ross said it best "I'm coming out I'm coming I'm coming out... I want the world to know Got to let it show I'm coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show There's a new me coming out And I just had to live And I wanna give I'm completely positive I think this time around I am gonna do it Like you never do it Like you never knew it Ooh, I'll make it through The time has come for me To break out of the shell I have to shout That I'm coming out I'm coming out I want the world to know Got to let it show I'm coming out I want the world to know I got to let it show I'm coming out I want the world to know Got to let it show I'm coming out”, in this song she sent a very positive message to me about my life, originally released in 1980, it wasn’t until 1998 when I heard it and it meant the world to me.
My own coming out was late in arriving - I was 23 years old. While it seemed sudden to me at the time, in the time since I've been able to look back and see the signs that I was "not like the other boys." When I was ten or eleven and living in Del Cerro, A predominantly Jewish suburb of San Diego, California. . I am Jewish. I was born Jewish, I was circumcised on the eighth day of my life, I went to Hebrew school and became a Bar Mitzvah when I was thirteen. I was indoctrinated with Jewish culture and values, and those values have a large influence on my life. Two of the most important to me are to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and "Justice, justice, shall thou pursue". I long ago separated the moral and ethical commandments of the Bible, which I attempt to follow, from the ritual commandments, where I pick and choose. Spiritually, I do not believe any religion in the world is correct on a literal level and accept all as being correct on a metaphorical level. I have for the p! ast thirteen years been a member of Tiffereth Israel Synagogue, a San Diego synagogue which my family built and is very supportive of. On an occasional Friday night, you might find me present at the Shabbat services. If you could hear what is going on in my head however, you would understand that I pay little attention to the literal meanings of words of the service, but use the mantra like qualities of the prayers to enable myself to quietly reflect on the imponderables of existence.
I remember going to the private Jewish school pool during the summer; sometimes it was almost as much fun to hang around the men's locker room as to swim with my friends. I don't think there was any desire there, more of a fascination with what other men looked like without their clothes on. Middle School and high school found me a social butterfly - I did well fairly well classes because I had my grandma to write my papers for me or supply me with Cliff notes. Friday nights were reserved for D&D with (male) friends. I was dating girls off and on but thought of boys none the less.
I graduated and moved on to college. First attending a Junior College graduating with an Associate of Arts Degree in General Education & Film. My undergraduate years were for the most part spent at California State University, Chico were a mixed bag, socially. I never dated guys and girls and went through that difficult experimentation period. I immersed myself in classes and extracurricular activities (television production and film) as well as an internship with the Chico Chamber of Commerce as A Film Project Coordination intern, to the point where I didn't have any free time - and certainly no time to worry about which gender I was more attracted to. I spent a lot of time online with American Online, chatting away to male students nearby and occasionally met a few in person, some of which will be my best friends forever. I also for the first time felt comfortable with my sexuality enough to attend the new gay bar in town, 2201. At first I was "the new face” in town and ever! yone wanted to try me out…I had fun with various partners and realized I wanted more of a committed closeted relationship. By the time I graduated from Chico State, I knew inside something was different and I was ready for the first time to acknowledge it.
I moved to back home to San Diego and got involved in the "gay scene” here… Quite frankly, it occurred to me that I might be gay few friends had asked me. When I first came out onto the scene I loved it, no less, I was in this fascinating new world and I just couldn't get enough of it, I wanted to be out all the time. But now I tend to rarely venture onto the gay scene because I detest it. Why? What could I possibly abhor about the gay scene? Well, let's begin at the beginning...First off, it has to be the plethora of pretentious, vacuous queens who would sooner spit in your face than talk to you. Come on, you know who I mean. They usually sit in a group in the a corner of the club, bar or pub, wearing there Armani briefs, Diesel jackets, Gucci belts in a cloud of cigarette smoke and vodka and orange vapors, bitching about everyone else who does not fit into their warped Spice Girl worlds, whether they deserve it or not. And there's just no talking to these people and why would you want to anyway, what's the point? Secondly, let’s move onto the bar leeches. Oh yes, the bar leeches, you must have encountered these! Those repugnant, old trolls (old nasty perverts) who stand at the bar drinking their pints attempting to catch your eyes any way possible so that it gives them an excuse to approach you and begin a conversation, or even worse to feel you or kiss you (this happened to one of my friends). And what can we do about it? Well, we do have to remember that they are human beings to and that they have feelings.... Yeah, right, we know this but it doesn't stop you wanting to tell them to fuck off or severely slap them about the face and neck. Conversely we can use this phrase, with a polite shake of the head, "If you put your hand on my leg, or any other part of my body again, you'll never be able to use your genitals for the rest of your life/I'm going to rip your still beating heart from your chest and hold it in front of your eyes so that you c! an see how black it is before you die" (delete as appropriate). Personally, I would like to see an exclusive gay youth scene, and I'm not talking about segregation, I'm talking about a choice, whether to be surrounded by just boys and girls or a mixed group. The scene is most definitely entirely based on sex, okay we know this. A couple of weeks ago I was sat in the Euphoria (a gay coffeehouse in Hillcrest) with a guy I was seeing Nick and you could sense that everyone in there had nothing on their minds but sex and how to get it, with darting eyes, lascivious licking lips etc. I'm not sure about you, but when I go out, I like to be able to sit with my friends without feeling as though I'm on some kind of meat-rack. This would be great if I was just out hunting for anonymous sex, which I'm not against, but I like to be able to talk to the boy before and after I have sex with him, and usually in bars and clubs the music is too loud anyway to do anything but shout. When I meet n! ew people now who have never been out on the scene, I tell them that I have four words that sum up the San Diego gay scene: predatory, bitchy and pretentious, and strung out.
In just a short time, I had a close circle of gay friends, some of us are lucky, I happen to be very lucky to have many wonderful diverse friends from all walks of life that accept me for who I am and at the same time offer all the support that they can. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. And on top of having to deal with homophobia in school, many have to deal with it at home with their own parents. Too many gay youth are kicked out of their houses with nowhere to go. Some even become prostitutes in order to survive. But with no form of support in school, in the home, or even from the Gay Community at large, what would you expect. I then became more active in GYA (Gay Youth Alliance) Queer youth…so neglected…so deprived…so depraved….so not taken seriously. According to many people, Queer youth don’t even exist. We’re just "in a phase” or "experimenting”. There’s no way possible that we could be sure at our age. How would we know? We haven’t even experienced life. A lot of us ! have never even had sex. So we couldn’t possibly know if we were Gay or not. Well let me tell you, that a bunch of BS. Just because so many of our "experienced” generation went through a denial phase, doesn’t mean that we have to, too. This goes back to my earlier statement that being Gay isn’t just about sex. Most Queers will tell you that they’ve always known, but they didn’t realize or act upon it, ya whatever…If I’m only attracted to men at this current stage in my life, I fantasize about men, I fall in love with men, that makes me gay. Even if I’ve never had sex with a man. I hate this label, I just wanna be known as Mikey, maybe the rest of the people out there are just jealous, we didn’t have to go through a denial phase to be able to accept ourselves…, and I was fairly secure in my life. But something was missing. During those years, I felt that I had finally found a group of people who would accept me as I was. I slowly came to realize that the face I was presenting wasn't the real me. I had to nod appreciatively when someone pointed out a beautiful woman. I had to ignore (studiously) another man stripping in front of me in a changing room. I had to hold back any statement that I thought might be effeminate or non-masculine. I realized that I had been doing these things for so long that they had become second nature - a reflexive facade. And after a while, it started to hurt. It was emotionally exhausting, and it kept me from feeling close to those who I cared about. Something had to change. A digression here.
I read a lot, mostly fantasy and science fiction. When I look back at what books resonated with me - the books that really meant something to me as I read them - I can see clues that I might have been less-than-straight even at an early age. One of the first fantasy books I ever read was Nancy Springer's Books of Sun series ("The White Hart," "The Sable Sun," etc.) While homosexuality wasn't mentioned, there was a bond between the two male main characters that was clearly more than brotherly, however platonic. The idea that two men could care for each other that much captured my heart. I remember (with a rueful grin) browsing in the bookstore at Obelisk Books and coming across a book by one Gordon Merrick - it was a trashy romance, but it was a GAY trashy romance. I remember going back - not just once, but several times - to the store to stand discreetly and read and reread the overwrought romance and sex scenes. And still I had no clue. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, honey. And the darker side of growing up in the homophobic South: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books contain homo-, hetero-, and bisexuality, stated very matter-of-factly. I remember being in high school and reading through the series, and finally reading one ("Thendara House," I believe) that was very open about homosexuality. I took all of the books that I owned from that series (twelve or more, I think) to the GYA gay youth alliance book drive in November of ‘99, fearful that someone might think that I read them because I was -gasp- GAY! My friends and I swapped books frequently, and we all read David Gerrold's War Against the Chtorr series, which features a rather unlikable protagonist who happens to be gay (it really is incidental, if I recall correctly). They, good God-fearing Jews, reviled the books for even mentioning homosexuality. I just shut up and enjoyed the story. When I first came out, a net-friend recommended Mercedes Lackey's Vanyel trilogy: "Magic's Pawn," "Magic's Promise," "Magic's Price." I've never cried when I read a book - these made me cry. Homosexuality is an issue, front-and-center, and Lackey deals with it in a rational, accepting, and tender way. Loves are found, loves are lost, and loves are found again in one of the most romantic fantasies I've ever read. I highly recommend these books to anyone coming out or already out - they actually made a difference in my life.
Back to the story. A dear friend was breaking up with another friend, and I had given her much support during the process. I think, had I been straight, we would have gone out (...and it would have been a bad idea, but you know that now, don't you Sweetie?). As it was, we leaned on each other, and provided mutual support. One night this friend Cori and I after dinner out (and a few beers - I wasn't that brave yet), we sat down on her bed and I told her the two hardest words I ever had to say: "I'm gay." She was quiet for a moment, then she took my hand and told me that I was who I was, and it didn't matter who I loved, she valued me for who I was. I'll always love her for that. After that night, I told another friend, and another, and another. Soon, all my close friends knew that I was gay, and I never heard anyone say anything about bad it. Could this be that I selected my friends before I came out on the basis of their lack of prejudices? It very well could be - I'll never know. After a few months, I was the typical newly out activist. I got into an argument in a restaurant with a new fellow to the GYA (Gay Youth Alliance) group because he stated that there should be straight pride parades as well as gay pride parades. I jumped all over him - Listen, I said, if you want to see a straight pride parade, turn on the TV. Look at Congress. Go outside and look at Mission Beach boardwalk ( a strip of beach front property on the ocean, in which you see straight couples hand in hand strolling by the waves on bikes, roller blades and foot). Go to the mall. Everyone is straight, or assumed to be. Gay pride is about being proud you are unique, not ashamed because of it. I was shocked when, after thorough discussion and consideration, he agreed with me. Jason changed my life because he showed me that sometimes what appears to be prejudice is simply ignorance, and that many people are willing to learn and dispel that ignorance. And for this, I'll always care for him (well, that and the fact that he can deep throat a Sierra Nevada bottle. Tease :-)
So I was out, right? No problems right? Wrong. There was the rest of my family. Well that was easy, in fact easier than I had wanted it to be. It was now January 1999 and mom and I decided to have a big party for my Grandma & Grandfather being that they were getting older and it was time to get the whole family together (well moms side anyways) so we had a big party at the house. It went really well and I enjoyed seeing all my cousins and aunts and uncles, etc. Mom tells me two days later, by the way, I told them (my whole family) all about you when I invited them to come to the party. Great, not really! Now every conversation that I had must have been misconstrued! Oh well I have a very accepting Jewish Mom I should be so lucky right? I was always on the defensive, not wanting to reveal too much about what I had done or what I was feeling. My parents became downright worried - it was obvious to them that I was hiding something, but they didn't want to pry. I was a mess, emotionally - after a phone conversation when I told my mom I had had my tongue pierced, she said, "It's not as bad as something you could tell me." By itself, it's a fairly innocuous statement, but in the emotional state I was in, it devastated me - I walked around the house at midnight and cried. I was very fortunate to have a net-friend who kept me sane and e-mailed me through the tough times (Bless you, Drew!). He advised me to seek counseling, which I did (briefly) and to have a support network of friends when I did come out to my family (and he was exactly right). How I came out to my family, though, was a textbook case of bad timing. Mom asked me why I had been so secretive the over the past few months. I denied any such thing. Finally, after a few minutes of this, she finally asked the question that had worried her for quite a while. "Are you gay?" What followed then was a long, agonizing conversation, with the familiar questions ("How do you know?" "How do two men..." "Are you a virgin?" You know, the questions that you wouldn't ask even your closest friend but when someone says their gay instantly spring to mind - and mouth).
By the time we reached Paul, things were pretty much in hand, though I was admonished, "Whatever you do, don't tell your dad, I said. It'll hurt him terribly and I have always wanted to be daddies boy, although not into sports like my siblings were, and although I don't think he understood then, he was willing to accept me as I am, which is more than I could ever ask. I didn't have to break the news to my brothers; Mom did that not long after I told her. Not my first choice of how to do it, but I'm over it.
That was two years ago. It doesn't seem that long. In that time, my family has come to accept that I am gay. Mom points out cute guys, and we are able to discuss how my relationships are going, as I discuss hers. Dad has resigned himself to the fact that I am out, he tells me not to out myself in the workplace, and that I refuse to go in the closet no matter what. I think he's even OK with that. My two brothers have been extremely accepting and I've found it to be better if we don't discuss it. Although my 20 something college-frat brother Jordan, always pokes fun when he get the chance. Like at a family celebration of Fourth of July this year, he said” Pass The Wieners to Mikey, We All Know There His Favorite, He Likes Eating Wieners. I’ve learned to take his insults like a grin of salt and realize that’s his way of dealing with the situation! They have never made that big of an issue of it, or expressed discomfort, so I'll be happy with that for now.
In Conclusion, although my life is a constant work so this paragraph will be extended and revised time and time again - A few weeks after I had posted the above text, a dear friend pointed out to me that something was missing - analysis. How does one analyze one's own life? It isn't easy. In retrospect, I can say that I wish things had been different. I wish I had realized my sexual orientation sooner; I wish I could have come out earlier. But things would have been very different - I would have had to deal with coming out in a very likely hostile environment, with little support. And that is something I would never, ever wish on anyone.
As for my coming out process - I can't think of anything I would have done differently. Yes, it was difficult for my family, but I took things at my own pace (as I had to) and kept myself sane by doing so. I was very fortunate to have had (and still have!) friends who provide love and support when I needed it, and a family that loves and accepts me for what I am. If there is one thing that I would say to anyone who reads this, one thing for them to take away from this mass of verbiage, it's this: Always remember, even when things are the bleakest, that there is someone who loves and cares for you. It may be your family, or a friend, or someone you've just met on the net, but no one is alone - and that's the way it should be. Now in February of 2001 I’ve realized that I'm coming up on the second of my coming out. That's surprising to me, really - it seems like I've been out for far longer than four years. The most important thing that has happened to me since I last updated this page is that I have an actual, rather than theoretical, love life for the first time in my life. If anything, this has made me rethink some of the complacency which had snuck into my life. The very idea that I have to look around to see who might be offended if I want to hold hands with or hug my sweetie is appalling, and a further reminder that queers still have a long way to go before we achieve equality. I've been through a lot in the year 1999 and my life has just begun. I found out what breaking up was like. It's not an experience I recommend for entertainment purposes, and yet it has a necessary place in life. I still care for Nick very much and, it was short but sweet, I caught him on the rebound and the distance thing killed us but we are on excellent terms. Mom still craves his Spanish Potatoes though, =-). I consider myself very fortunate, and would not give up that time that we had together for anything. I have re-experienced the joy of finding new love again, and found that love can continue, and grow, and becomes something better. I now have a boyfriend that I love more than I ever have loved anyone man or women before. He is closeted and we are best friends and a couple in one! We don’t hang out too much in the gay community but sometimes its better that way. His name is Jimmy and mom calls him and introduced him to her friends and family as her "son-in-law” I’m so lucky to once again have such an accepting mother. If I could have looked ahead five years ago and seen me where I am now...I wouldn't have believed it possible. I've learned and grown a lot in those last five years, and through the love and support of my friends, boyfriends, and family, I've found a happiness I never thought I'd feel. Being a gay man is integral to my identity. I wouldn't change it if I could; it makes up too much of me. But my physical and emotional attraction to men has landed me in the middle of a community I have mixed feelings about. I have been and am very active in the gay community . Pride Parades, the Gay Youth Alliance, Youth Pride Committee, H.Y.P.I. founder and president, now on the San Diego Pride Board,and Queerplayers, I keep myself busy…. lots of charitable giving, etc. are a few of the ways I'm involved. But oddly, the community as it stands falls short (other than in politics) of meeting a lot of my needs as a gay man, much less my needs as an individual.
We've managed to create a community which is so aware of its differences that each subgroup feels it must be listed separately in the title of every organization. Or worse, we have to list not only our subgroups, but also all policital allies. The result is a lack of focus to a lot of groups, often to the ultimate detriment of the group. I've been in more than one organization that tried to be too much for too many and ended up crashing and burning.
If we want to create a truly inclusive community, we do that through actions, not words. When starting the H.Y.P.I. Group (Homosexual Youth Positive Influence) , my best friend Sean and I wrestled long and hard over the name. The reality is that HYPI will be targeting youth issues in the workplace and how to proceed for they are the future!
We need to worry less about categorizing ourselves and more about determining and meeting our needs!
And finally, in the time since last updating this, I have received many, many letters from the readers of this page. I have read many moving stories, and have offered what advice I can. If you wish to comment, or chat, or just say hi, feel free to email me I'd love to hear from you.
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