Michael’s journey is the fourth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2013.
Occupation: Manager at UBC (and a teacher by trade)
What a year it has been… to say the least. My coming out story story probably isn’t overly unique, but it is MY story nonetheless – and one that I am particularly proud.
Having grown up in very small, rural community in south-western New Brunswick, being openly gay isn’t very common; in fact, I can’t think of anyone from my town that has ever been openly gay.
I spent my years of university distancing myself from my family because I feared that if they ever found out I would be shunned. I would even go to the lengths of making up lies about why I couldn’t go home on weekends because I thought my family would disown me; but I wasn’t even “out” with my friends.
After five years at university, I ended up moving to rural Prince Edward Island – again, not exactly the ideal location to be openly gay. As a teachers in a small, rural school I continued to keep my identity hidden. I pretended to be happy. I pretended to enjoy my life. I tried to convince myself that “I’m not gay.”
After one year in Prince Edward Island, and doing a lot of soul searching, I decided that enough was enough. I remember starting each morning by looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and trying to utter the words “I’m gay.” At first I couldn’t do it, and I felt tremendous guilt about not being what my family wanted me to be.
As time went on, I found myself capable of uttering those words to myself in the mirror. I would look myself straight in the eye and say “I’m gay – you’re gay – we are gay. Gay, gay, gay!” Simply saying the word seemed to allow it to sink in.
Finally, the school year had come to an end and I was heading off to Europe for the summer. While visiting a friend back in New Brunswick, I decided that I needed to tell her before going to Europe if I was to truly enjoy my summer. It took an extreme amount of patience to find the right opportunity in the conversation, but finally I told her “I have something to tell you.” She said “okay” and let me talk.
It’s odd how the universe seems to sometimes know exactly what needs to happen, but she let me cry, and was comfortable with the silence while I worked up the courage to say something. I stammered and stuttered and managed to articulate a broken sentence that insinuated that I have a personal secret to share.
She waited as long as she could for me to say it and then said “Michael, can I help you? Can I just ask you a question and you tell me yes or no?” I obliged.
“Michael, are you gay?” There was a very long silence, and many tears. But I finally wiped them away, looked her straight in the eye and said “I have to be man enough to say this to your face… Yes, I am gay!” In the blink of an eye, her arms were wrapped around me.
Ever since that moment it has actually been quite easy to tell other friends. I was able to enjoy my trip to Europe and came back with a new found strength, and a much better idea of who I am, and who I want to me.
Since then, I have come out to my immediate family, and all of my friends. I also decided that Prince Edward Island was not the place for me and moved my entire life to Vancouver. I have been here for 5 months and have no regrets.
I am so much stronger than I ever could have imagined I would be. It’s hard to think back to exactly one year ago and to realize that I had only come out to three people. If I had known back in university that the support I would have from my family and friends would be this great, I would have maybe come out sooner. But, we all have our own journey and our own experiences. We all have our own story, and this is mine.
For those who identify as LGBTQ, the process of ‘coming out’ is often difficult and painful but it can best be described as liberating. Last week, Vancity Buzz invited its LGBTQ readers to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a means of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
As these individuals in our stories experienced and eventually realized, retaining such deep secrets can cause much internal damage – only honesty can allow them to live life to its fullest potential, to be able to truly enjoy life. Michael’s journey is the fourth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2013.
Got a coming out story to share? Click here for more information on how to submit.