Coming Out

Nothing terrified me more than the idea of coming out to you, but my hand was forced.

My final semester of high school was one of the toughest periods of my life. I had come out to most of my close friends and trusted family, saving you and Mom for last. It went over well with practically everyone but her, and then she took it as poorly as she could. I was so distracted by these events that I let my production slide, and I soon learned I had been unceremoniously removed from That Guy with the Glasses without being informed. I tried to explain why I needed time, but they refused to give me a second chance. I broke down completely, said things I shouldn’t have in public places. I still wasn’t out in the open, so a lot of people assumed I was freaking out over the site and nothing more – but a few added up the pieces.

One of my cousins on your side saw my posts and contacted you in a panic. She also messaged me, telling me about a friend of hers who had a brother that committed suicide. The friend didn’t realize their brother was gay until after the fact, after reading some of his personal writing. His parents had rejected him, and, well – she didn’t want to see the same thing happen to me.

She didn’t out me, of course – she simply mentioned I seemed troubled. You wanted to meet, and I couldn’t really say no. You had no meaningful power over me, but I guess I saw you as a potential physical danger – but at that point, what was I afraid of losing?

I could have written it off, covered up the subject. Put all of the blame on Channel Awesome, not mention why things slipped there. But no reasonable person would believe that a comedy website would single-handedly lead me to such despair.

So I told you everything. And, well – you listened to me. You understood me, tried to find (sometimes awkward, considering your prison days) ways to relate. You mentioned it went against your beliefs, but it’s not like you never sinned.

If there was anything I needed on that specific day, it was for someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay. After all the hell I went through due to you, I would have never imagined you would be the one to help me through one of my most desperate moments.

For the first time in my life, you were there.

Behind the Mask

Back when I was first coming out, you were the one person to make a big deal out of insisting you already knew. I never bothered to question it; it implies you saw some sort of stereotypical behavior in me, but it also meant you had already accepted the idea. I got the opposite from most people; they never imagined this from me. I even had to insist to a few that I wasn’t just joking – I must have been the very model of a modern masculine heterosexual.

Hell, I think you even told my sister several years before I came out that you thought I was gay. Which, again, is a tiny bit rude; but you’ve always been a tiny bit rude. It’s part of your social charm.

Many years later, a group of us were standing in the kitchen at my parent’s house and you casually threw something else into the air. “You know, I’d describe you as agender. Something like David Bowie.” I’m not sure if you even know that agender is an actual term, but I certainly fit whatever you imagined it to mean.

Which, again; that’s kind of a rude thing to blurt out, especially with other family around. But, more than anything, I was disarmed. I had recently come across the concept myself, while searching to better understand who I was, how I fit in this world. I even thought of David Bowie as an inspiration, at least in his more flamboyant eras.

But I hadn’t told anyone – I hadn’t even fully accepted it myself yet. You spoke my identity into the world before I did, just casually as if you were simply stating a blatant fact.

How do you do this? With all the close, personal relationships I have had, how do you find it so easy to just look at me and know? Know before even I do?

When you referred to me as agender, I felt a strange mix of exposure and relief. Truthfully, it’s what pushed me into finally identifying as such. I needed to know someone else saw me this way, that it wasn’t all in my head.

So, it’s kind of sad that I still haven’t told you this truth of my identity – I haven’t really told anyone in the family. But I know, as soon as I do, you’ll probably say that same stupid thing. “I already knew.”

At a recent gathering, we somehow cycled back to how you thought I was gay so many years before anyone else. I was in a combative mood, so I challenged you. “So you think I fit a bunch of stereotypes, huh?” You were almost offended. I apparently didn’t match anything obvious.

So, what could it have been? “You never showed any interest in women.”

Well, huh. I guess that’s a reasonable explanation.