coming out

Today is National Coming Out Day. Bravo and Outzonetv.com have a lot of video stories from Tim Gunn, Andy Cohen, Ted Allen, etc. All day LOGO is airing "Coming Out Stories." I think it's really important to have so many stories from such diverse people and places. It's important for people to see how we struggle to simply be who we are, the way we justify hiding, keeping secrets. Some people are afraid their family will disown them; others are afraid they'll be discriminated against at work and others don't want to be politicized. Because being gay is not just about who you love, or who you sleep with; it's much, much more than that.

Coming out is risky. I certainly understand that. It requires complete honesty, mostly with yourself. I heard someone say on their coming out video that coming out is not about others. "It's not about whether or not your family will accept you; it's about whether or not you can accept yourself when they don't," he said. And I think that's an incredibly insightful way to think about the process.

Like many of the stories, I came out when I fell in love. Or more accurately, when I lost love. I told my father but then ran away to England for almost a year and when I returned I was kind of lost. It took a while to become comfortable enough to begin to understand where I stood and needed to stand. Michelle was the first girl I wanted my family to meet, the first girl I was willing to step out on a limb for, argue with my mother over, etc. Sometimes it takes other people to show you what you're missing. Besides, being afraid is no way to live. There was no big revelation when I came out. I did cut my hair pretty short and made a conscious effort to live more honestly but I feel like I came out more than once. In many ways, once you come out you're always coming out... to people you meet and become important to you, each time you move or start a new job, you have to repeat the process. There's always risk but you are who you are and that's all you can hope that people see.