LGBT saidthat's cool.. but how do you just go gay, all of a sudden? Did you wake up gay one day?
That is almost literally what did happen. I've told this story here before.
Just before I retired from the Army in 1994, I joined a local Seattle BBS. Strictly direct dial-up via telephone modem, not Internet, it had chat rooms with topics about auto mechanics, and classical music, and lots of other of my interest areas. It was basically topical threads like we have here, but all text-based, no graphics.
And one was called the "Men's Room." And in there I encountered this openly gay guy, who was sorta like the spokesperson for all gays. Very smart, very articulate, he successfully took on the gay bashers left & right, and made the gay case, calmly & logically, never emotionally. I wish I had learned that skill from him.
And I was fascinated by this, a world I knew nothing about. So I privately e-mailed him, and we began a daily correspondence that went on for months.
And then one day, March 16, 1995, he wrote for about the 20th time that gay stereotypes are flawed (upon which my own denial had been based). That gay men can be construction workers, and police, firefighters, football players, truck drivers, Army soldiers... Wait, what was that last one??? The message finally penetrated my dense brain.
And the possibility hit me like a tackle. My mind was reeling. But then the most amazing thing started to happen. A thousand suppressed memories started to flood back into my brain. I even had this image of my mind, like an out of body experience, of partitions falling, with locked-up secrets being released.
I began to realize I had been a victim of extremely compartmentalized thinking. I might have remembered an obviously gay event in my life, but I would quickly suppress it, and refuse to remember another one at the same time. I refused to connect the dots.
But that day I was suddenly connecting all the dots, and the picture they formed was clear. I was gay. But I had a problem. I had always believed gay was not good. The Army said so, all of US society I knew said so.
But I am a very strong & confident person. I know that I am basically good. Therefore, if I am gay, it follows that gay cannot be bad. Believe it or not, for me such a simplistic approach works.
I spent that whole night awake, my mind churning. I had never before nor since been in such a state.
At dawn the next morning I applied for online membership with another Seattle BBS associated with the other BBS, that was exclusively for gay men. I knew about it from my gay e-mail friend, and also knew that night, Friday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day) the BBS was hosting the largest annual gay party in Seattle.
My membership was approved before noon, and I promptly registered for the party. I was too late for the earlier and smaller dinner, but the dance party afterwards was a separate function, attended by over 1100 gay men.
My greatest apprehension wasn't about attending, but what the hell to WEAR? I e-mailed my gay friend to ask, and he was horrified I was doing this. He feared I wasn't really gay, accused himself of improperly recruiting me, that I was having a mid-life crisis, all kinds of crap, and worried that I would freak there. He didn't realize how absolutely fearless I can be.
So I arrived that night, and my name was on a computer printout to admit me. And what I saw transformed me.
I saw gay men dancing together for the first time in my life. And the love I saw in their eyes impressed me more than anything I had ever seen in the straight world. I had to go over into a corner a few times, because I was crying.
I got hit on quite a bit that night, I guess I dressed correctly, but I had to decline. I didn't know what I supposed to do with them! But I promptly bought books and studied, I will be disciplined military to the day I die, and within less than 3 weeks I had arranged my first gay sex, a fantastically mind-blowing experience.
And that is the story of how I came out gay in 1 day.