Coming Out Day, 1981

Monday, October 11th, 2004 | Gay

I didn’t really know that I was “gay,” even though I had already fallen in love with numerous guys since Kindergarden, until I was a Sophomore in high school, and Donna, a Junior, asked me, sort of jokingly I thought, if I were interested in a three-way with her and Sam, Sam the mini Mick Jagger, and I answered, “You’d be bored.” Well it was like a big light bulb went off over my head and suddenly all the dots were connected and fireworks were exploding everywhere and I was crowned Miss America. “Really?” she asked, and I just burst out “Yes, I’m gay!” My sister lived in San Francisco, so I called her up as soon as I got home and told her, and then all of my other siblings, one at a time, and then my girlfriend, and all of my friends, and then Sam–who told me he was, too! We had sex the very next day, and I stepped into some sort of movie where dreams really do come true and anyone can sleep with Mick Jagger. I decided to wait until I moved out for college to tell Mom and Dad, and let them deal with it without me. When Mom got my letter, she called Diane crying saying that she couldn’t imagine me having sex with another man. Diane said, “Mom, I can’t imagine you having sex with Dad” and that seemed to put things in perspective. My mom is great. In Birmingham, Alabama, if anyone says anything negative about gay people, she proudly says that she has a gay son and that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. Yay, Mom! Dad, on the other hand, is okay with it all, but he tries to fit me into some idea of homosexuality that is comfortable to him. Like, he corrects me whenever I mention that Reese is my son, “No, no, no–you’re more like an uncle.” Whatever, Dad. He still loves me. I inadvertently came out to my entire school when my boyfriend Robert and I were making out in the Hyatt elevator, on our way to a school party on the top floor, and suddenly the doors opened, and there was my class, suddenly quiet as I pried Robert off my lips and burbled, “Hi, y’all! This is Robert!” Robert–I wonder whatever happened to him? He took so much Vitamin A that his skin was kind of orange and he tasted like Retin-A. He drove a BMW, and we’d park behind UAB on rainy nights and make out in it. I can still smell the stew of sweat, Polo, and rich Corinthian leather.

So my coming out was more like being handed the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle. I was never oppressed by my ignorance, I just didn’t know that a queer was something more than what everyone already called me for what I thought were different reasons.

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