Coming out is not a one-time thing. It’s a recurring process that you have to go through — with yourself, your friends, your family and sometimes even people you barely know. Growing up being bullied is not rare for a boy who is queer, especially when you don’t understand why you’re being bullied.
What’s so different about me? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I just have it easy like the other boys? These questions stab at you because you just don’t understand what’s wrong — initially. Coming out for me has been an intensive, three-stage process: denial, repression and acceptance.
You know what’s different about you, but you deny it to yourself, thinking all the while: “This can’t happen to me, this is unnatural.” It’s unnatural because you’ve grown up in a hetero-normative environment where you aren’t exposed to your sexuality in mainstream media or in person.
Then you go through the stage of repression. You try to cull any feelings you have towards the same sex. You force yourself to date a girl, you try to get involved with her and try everything to make it work. But inherently, you know it’s not right. It doesn’t feel right.
And then comes acceptance. You get tired of living a lie and begin to accept yourself for what you truly are. It can come by accepting oneself or by someone’s support in helping you deal with it and finally coming out to yourself. And that is when you finally feel liberated and free. There is still fear in your heart. The fear of how your friends will react, how your family will react. Will they still accept you? Will you be an outcast?
But one thing is for sure, this is what you inherently and truly are — and always will be. It’s not a choice. It was never a choice. It’s a part of you. I took my time. I told my girlfriend of four years first, and she, who is now my best friend, was the most supportive friend I could’ve possibly had. Then came my closest friends, which included a few guy friends as well, whom I never thought would accept this part of me. But they did, and it only brought us closer.
And then I moved away from home to a whole new city. Confused if I should come out in this free space my college provided or not, I took my time to habituate and grow as a person. Coming out to people in my college was not an agenda I’d set for myself, but slowly, I let myself be liberated and one by one, I came out to everyone and they all accepted me for the person I am today.
The only thing left for me to do is to come out to my family. And one day, when I make that happen, I will be fully liberated.