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B E E N  T H E R E:  A  C O M I N G  O U T  S T O R Y
Michael

April 1997

All throughout high school Michael felt confused. He had a girlfriend whom he loved yet he felt attracted to men. When he finally came out as a homosexual, he discovered that rather than reject him, his family was right there with love and support.

The InSite: When did you first realize you were gay?

Michael: As a very young child I knew that I was attracted to men, but didn't know exactly what that meant for me in terms of identifying my sexuality or anything. In high school I was kind of confused because I started dating women, and I was not really exploring my other options. I mean, I didn't feel uncomfortable dating women, but I knew that I was attracted to men. I didn't think it was abnormal, it was more of a curiosity for me.

But as I got older I started having more of an attraction to men, and my feelings were getting stronger toward that attraction. I felt kind of out of place. I had a girlfriend all throughout high school. But during my senior year of high school, that's when I knew that I was gay.

TI: Did you share your feelings of confusion with your girlfriend?

Michael: I did. We didn't discuss it too much. She'd say, "Oh, you're just kidding around, aren't you?" I think I said, "Yes," because I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable. And I wasn't too sure anyway. It wasn't up for discussion, I guess.

I had never, in my entire life,
ever seen a gay person.

TI: Were there other gay students who were out of the closet [openly gay] at your school?

Michael: There was one. And he was actually a year ahead of me. When I was a junior, he was a senior. And I had seen him "out" and that was really strange for me. I had never, in my entire life, ever seen a gay person.

TI: What part of the country did you grow up in?

Michael: I lived in Southern California and it was pretty conservative. I was never exposed to people who were gay. So when I saw him I thought to myself "Weird." It felt really strange for me to see someone gay. But of course, that was my own feelings about being gay myself.

TI: Did you feel an identification with this gay student?

Michael: At that point, a little bit, but he was sort of flamboyant. I didn't really identify with that. I admired him for being "out." I think I was intrigued by it.

TI: How did the other students react to him?

Michael: It seemed as though people took well to it. But I wasn't in his position, so I don't know whether or not people harassed him. This was 1989. He took a guy to the Senior Prom and there didn't seem to be a negative response.

...I still wanted to be with her...
But then I still wanted to be with men.

TI: When did you come out of the closet?

Michael: After I graduated from high school. I told my girlfriend and we broke up. She understood. We were still kind of going off and on with each other 'cause there was a lot of confusion. We had always been together, for two and a half years at that point. I was really confused because I still wanted to be with her, and I loved her a lot. But then I still wanted to be with men.

TI: Did you and she have a sexual relationship?

Michael: We did. And that was confusing too. And I was saying "What's going on here?" Then when I came out to my friends, they were not surprised at all. They were like, "We sort of already knew that." And I was pretty shocked. I thought it was a secret! [laughing].

TI: How about your family?

Michael: My brother was the first family member I came out to. He was actually pretty upset. It took him a while. But he's accepting now, and we talk about it. My mom always knew. I actually didn't come out to her until I was 19 (two years after I came out to my friends). And she was upset and she cried, but she's been supportive, and she asks me about my boyfriends that I'm dating. My dad is not in the picture. My mom got together with someone else that she had been with for three years, and he was supportive. I was actually pretty surprised because him being part Asian and part black, very "cultured" within the Asian community, and being gay is very taboo. My grandmother, being Japanese and very cultured, she was accepting. They don't talk about it, but... they are supportive. I guess my coming out has always been a positive experience. I guess I've been blessed that way.

...my coming out has always been a positive experience. I guess I've been blessed that way.

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