Coming Out Month: Freedom Comes In…

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Please pardon me if I’m a bit choked up. Beyond all this smut and eye candy, there’s a sensitive soul with a big heart, and today’s submission for Coming Out Month spoke to me in a way that you might not even believe is possible.

“Freedom comes in the moment you open the door to that hellhole you call a closet.”

This line is repeated three times in the duration of Manhunt member Connor‘s story. Each time, those sixteen words words feel even more profound and empowering, as he slowly unfolds the tale of his old friend Jacob.

Grab a box of tissues in advance, boys! And not for the picture of Benjamin Godfre above. You’ll need ’em for your face, because this one’s a tearjerker.

– Dewitt

Photo credit: The Male Form

Click through to read this member’s coming out story:

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“Freedom comes in the moment you open the door to that hellhole you call a closet.”

My sister always encouraged me to live my life openly and free.  But it was the courage of a friend that gave me the strength to come out.

Jacob was always the tormented kid. If he wasn’t beating up on himself, three guys at school filled in that void. He avoided contact with most people during the nearly eight hours of forced lockdown. His silent torment was because, as he usually said, his faggotry is evident to anyone who could tell the difference between black and white. But he was my friend. Just not in public.

I was on the baseball team. Student body vice president and a shoo-in for Homecoming King next year. A major closet-case with no hope of changing his mind about letting the world in on his dirty little secret. I didn’t think I was being unreasonable. Why should you stop being yourself just because you can’t fully be yourself ? I thought anyone who cares about you enough would understand that you cannot be out and about yet. So because you aren’t at that point, discretion is the only option you have.

Jacob’s torment began in sixth grade and never really let up. Whenever a classmate would hurtle “faggot” or “sissy” his way, he’d just hold his head up higher with tears in his eyes that he wouldn’t dare let fall. When my middle school held a girl’s choice sock hop, all the guys laughed as Jacob was forced to attend alone. Alone, because everyone thought it would be funny if no one asked him. Alone, because I didn’t do anything to discourage it.

By high school, Jacob had blossomed into a sexy redhead who didn’t know his own beauty. He hid behind clothes that challenged the status quo with every stitch. His eyes questioned the hierarchy of our school, but his heart lacked a desire to stand out any more than he did. The same classmates who previously thought “faggot” and “sissy” were the ultimate insult against Jacob had moved on to labeling his locker with far worse terms and designating any desk he sat in as infected.

And all that time, I watched from the sidelines. Because in this one game, it was better to be a benched queer than the starting school homosexual.

It was during this time that I realized how much I admired Jacob. Whenever he said, “Connor,” I immediately paid more attention, without my noticing it. When we would hang out in my basement, just talking about politics or the news (jocks do have brains), his opinion on issues made me take a closer look at my own. In hindsight, my admiration for Jacob was more the beginning tingle of a shiver of love.

But as we were approaching the end of our junior year, some switch flipped in Jacob. He stopped hiding in the shadows. He took his rightful place in our school. This change in him, however, brought hate from some of our classmates. Jacob was accustomed to the whispers in the hallways, the secretive notes and spraypaint, the unclaimed acts of hate. But when people became aggressive with Jacob, it slowly chipped away at his walls, weakening his desired state of solitude.

It was during senior departure that Jacob reached his breaking point. He was walking down the hall to the library, passing the baseball team. What I later think was intended to be a simple trip, turned into a forceful slam into the floor. I stood there speechless as Jacob lay crumpled on the floor. I started to approach him, for the first time in my life more concerned about him than my status.

But as quickly as I started moving toward him, I stopped as a scream echoed down the library corridor. It was Jacob. It wasn’t a scream of pain. It was one of fury. Pure, unaltered fury. He slowly pulled himself up and looked around. He was simply pissed.

“What the fuck is wrong with you idiots?! Why is my mere existence a cause for concern? What the fuck did I ever do to you?”

Jacob’s face got redder as I felt myself fill with shame. While I never actually did anything to him, I never did anything to stop it. I looked around at shocked faces, a few of which belonged to members of the faculty.

“This can’t be because I’m gay. Because that is the dumbest reason to ever hate someone. It’s fucking stupid. Because who I’m attracted to does not change your lives one bit.”

Most people standing in that hallway, however, had stopped listening. Jacob had just admitted that he was gay. I think people realized at that moment that everyone had just assumed he was gay.  No one ever had heard him say it before that moment. And that’s when I noticed something strange – no one seemed different after hearing it.

Then Terry, the starting receiver, said, “This faggot got no right to talk at us like this. Fuck him. He’s a butt-munching cocksucker who’s all alone and out of anyone to give a damn.”

Freedom comes in the moment you open the door to that hellhole you call a closet.

This small dude had been pushed around enough and was tired of being this school’s punching bag. I had a good place in the school’s social scene, and I had done nothing but become a part of the scene instead of the trend setter. Jacob was showing me that coming out is more than just saying it. So much more.

“I’m gay.”

I could feel their eyes on me. I knew that everyone was looking at me, even Jacob.

I wish I could say that, senior year, I had been homecoming king and had it all. But I can’t. That decision in the hallway severely hurt my standing in the hierarchy. But  then again, I never really felt a part of the scene anyway. Just someone who was trying to keep up with the scene to keep up with being cool.

What I lost by coming out was replaced by something more. Real friendships. Openness. Happiness. A boyfriend.

Yeah, it was one of those stories where, at the end of the day, I lost my “friends”. But I gained Jacob. And about seven of the best friends a guy could get. All LGBTQ and fabulous. My coming out made me a starting homosexual at my school. But it also encouraged some of those other benched queers to step up to the mound.

Freedom truly begins when you open the door to that hellhole you call a closet. Sometimes, all you need is a little help finding the doorknob.

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