by Brandon Tietz
This doesn’t have to be a big production. You don’t need to make the cover of People Magazine or US Weekly. Your coming out does not require fireworks, skywriting, lasers, or an otherwise ostentatious spectacle. This isn’t a competition of who can step out of the closet with the most pageantry; that’s an ever-growing snowball of misconception fueled by the media. This part of your life in which you reveal a personal detail about yourself doesn’t need national news coverage, so please, don’t feel obligated to set up a press conference or assemble a group of reporters. It can be intimate. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m gay,” and going from there. That’s how most of these conversations start. But you’re not really scared of the admission; it’s the reaction you’re worried about. The face of your father or best friend is one you know quite well, so it’s easy to picture them being disappointed in your mental worst-case scenario. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be nearly as bad as you think. In fact, it’s not going to be bad at all. We’re not living in the social dark ages anymore. We’ve evolved. The fact of the matter is that being out is about as mainstream as it ever has been, and I’m not just talking about a litany of celebs that range from Ellen to NPH. It goes beyond that ever-growing list of states that have legalized same-sex union. Homosexuality is a part of modern culture, and I mention this because your coming out may not be met with the shock and awe you were expecting. More often than not, the people closest to you already know…they’re just waiting for you to tell them. They know it’s “your moment” and are being respectful of that. I’ve been on that side of things: the straight guy who knew his friend was gay and was waiting for him to say something about it. That process took years. A lot of short-term girlfriends he had absolutely zero interest in, a lot of going through the motions of what he perceived as straight male behavior. Sometimes he’d drop little tests to gauge my reaction to the tune of, “Hey, did you know that Chuck Palahniuk is gay? Kinda changes how you look at ‘Fight Club,’ huh?” It really didn’t. That was the truth. Same goes for Bret Easton Ellis and his colorful body of work. My only comment on the matter was they wrote exceptionally well crafted sex scenes considering their orientation. Other than that, it didn’t sway me one way or the other, and I believe that might have been why he and I had “the talk” shortly thereafter. Sometimes the people on the fence about whether to come out need to see that: this personal admission isn’t going to change the way you view them, their friendship. It’s not going to make things weird or uncomfortable. They need to verify they’re in the safety of a no-judgment zone before putting themselves out there. It’s a significant moment, but there’s no need for trepidation. You don’t need spectacle, either. Honesty is more than enough. So when you finally come out, do it with the same kind of no-frills candor you’d expect were you to be on the receiving end of things. Be straightforward. Be honest. Coming out isn’t about the method; it’s about being true to yourself. You might be met with mixed reactions. It’s entirely possible that you’ll spend the next hour or so fielding rudimentary questions from shocked parents or in-the-dark friends who were completely clueless. Questions are good though. It means they wish to understand you as opposed to dismissing what they’ve been told. And they’ll respect you for telling them. In the end, even if they don’t agree with the truth, they have to respect it.
Brandon Tietz is a Kansas City writer and the author of “Out Of Touch” and “Good Sex, Great Prayers.” His short stories have appeared in “Warmed and Bound” (Velvet Press), “Amsterdamned If You Do” (CCLap), “Spark” (Vol. II), and the Chuck Palahniuk anthology “Burnt Tongues” (Medallion Press). Visit him at www.brandontietz.com.