Today is officially National Coming Out Day! To celebrate the occasion, I’ll be posting a small series of member-submitted stories throughout the day, all left over from our Coming Out Month project. The first contribution popped up in our inbox a few days ago with the following message: “Thanks Manhunt, you’ve had a big impact on my life.”
Obviously, we had to jump on that one!
You’ll be glad to know, however, that this is not an advertisement for our site. Manhunt is only mentioned in the smallest way, all amidst a touching tale of a man coming to terms with his own sexuality… And if you’re still not convinced to click through and read, maybe it’ll help that we’ve weaved in pics of male model Florian Bourdila? Maybe.
If you’re interested in sharing your experience and getting THREE FREE MONTHS of unlimited membership to Manhunt, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org before 5PM EST today. Yup, we’re accepting last-minute stories! So, uh, go send one. Please?
Photo credit: Jorge Morandeira
Click through to read this member’s coming out story:
For as long as I can remember, I knew I was gay. Growing up in Catholic schools it was something I felt that I had to keep hidden deep inside me. I had a good childhood with parents who loved me and always encouraged me to do what made me happy. I never felt alone. I had great friends and family who would do anything to see me be successful. I grew up admiring all that my mom did for me and was driven to impress my dad through hard work and making a place in this world for myself.
My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t meet their expectations. Only a few months ago I found my biggest regret has been that I was never true to myself. I spent so many nights trying to say it but could never get the words out.
It was only a few months after my 25th birthday that I could actually tell myself out loud that I am gay. That was the moment I knew I had the power in myself to be who I am.
I joined Manhunt a couple years ago with the idea that I could satisfy my sexual desires while being hidden (fake name and no face pictures, of course) and still put on the facade of a single, hardworking bachelor who didn’t have time for a girlfriend.
I had dated and had sex with many women since high school and although I enjoyed it, I knew it wasn’t what I really desired. I didn’t feel a connection and found it to be something I forced on myself to please my family, friends and society. I would always tell myself that, just because I am alone, it doesn’t make me lonely.
At some point in life, you have to stop believing your own bullshit.
I felt empty inside and that every day was another one living a life full of lies. Every relationship I had was fake to me. I didn’t feel it was fair to make new friends because they would get to know a liar, someone who couldn’t even be honest with himself.
I had a few flings with men here and there, but every one of them left me feeling emptier inside and guilty. I felt that if my family and friends ever knew who I really was, they would disown me and be appalled. There were many nights when I would stare at my phone with my sister’s number dialed, but I couldn’t press send. I just couldn’t do it.
That changed when I met Derek.
Over time, he became a great friend, one who understood the pain I felt. I remember lying on the couch with him, when he asked if I could ever see myself dating a man. It took me a while to answer; it was a concept that was too awkward and seemed so wrong. I told him I couldn’t see myself dating another man, at least for a long time.
Whether he was trying or not, he helped me to see that the only way I could ever be happy was to be myself and love myself for who I am. He affirmed what I knew deep down inside. Coming out wouldn’t change the person I am; it would only help me feel the freedom that I deserve.
Because of him, I felt comfortable with myself and could finally see being gay wasn’t something that would hold me back. We spent many days together sharing our experiences and struggles with each other. Every time I was with him, I grew to admire him more and felt a special connection that helped me accept myself.
Only knowing him for a few months, I decided it was time to begin the process of coming out. I called my sister and talked to her for a few hours. I almost hung up before doing it, but I felt his hand on my shoulder telling me “you can do this!” and I said it.
She began to cry and told me she loved me so much, and it didn’t make a world of a difference to her. Hearing her say that made me feel so happy. I had never felt so good.
My journey isn’t complete. Coming out to my mom came with results that were less than what I had hoped for. She will need time to understand that I am still the same smart and ambitious individual she spent many years supporting and loving. Being gay doesn’t dictate the kind of person I am, it is just a part of me.
As I continue to come out to those who are close to me I find the support I’ve received has inspired me to be a more honest and open person. The advice I can give to others in this position is do it when you feel the time is right. This isn’t an easy process, but as the years pass by, it will become even more frustrating and difficult. You will lose so much time that you can spend being happy with who you are. Any gay man can admit that this isn’t a choice. Why in hell would we choose to do something that is more difficult?
You’re gay, be happy with it.
Click below for more submissions, or send a last-minute contribution to email@example.com: