“Interested in Men”
My private torment was about to become public. I sat at my computer with the cursor hovering over “Interested in Men” on my Facebook profile. This, accompanied by some sort of status update, was about to mark my online coming out. My heart beat quickly and my fingertips tingled as I clicked the box.
Why was I so nervous? I had already come out to my family and close friends, so the biggest hurdle was behind me. Coming out online was just to make it “Facebook official,” as my friends reminded me I still needed to do. Instead, I felt the same nervousness – the what-can-I-do-to-getout-of-this feeling – that I had whenever I came out to someone in person.
I was equally as nervous when I came out to my older brother for the first time. We were in a car in the hot Arizona sun, cruising steadily along the smooth highway. I blurted it out uncertainly. I felt glued to the seat, unable to move as I said aloud for the first time what it was like growing up in the closet.
I should mention that there was a camera in the car, recording our conversation. My major at the time was film production, with a focus in documentary. I had the idea to film my coming out to get an in-the-moment perspective that most of the stories I watched on YouTube lacked. The idea quickly grew into a feature length documentary called Coming Out.
In the car, my brother didn’t believe me. He thought I was trying to get a reaction for the camera. When he realized I was serious, he parked at the end of an enormous parking lot and we talked. He asked how long I had known, which seemed to be a popular question for straight people to ask. My parents and close friends wondered the same thing, as if they expected me to tell them about the time I had a fabulous epiphany and – POOF! – became a homosexual. Sitting in the car, I told my brother that I’ve “always known.”
That stock statement, used every time the question came up, implied that the years I spent in the closet were a cover for being gay instead of the uncertain, trying-to-figure-myself-out time that it actually was. It’s difficult to vaguely explain how I ceaselessly searched in online forums for someone to tell me that I was not gay, when I knew in the back of my mind that I was.
I watched coming out stories on YouTube, comparing myself to strangers, until I realized that, like all these other people, this was simply just how I was. Yet, I wasn’t able to actually admit it to myself until college, when fantasy became awkward first experience. After coming out to myself, I prepared to come out to others, but I had no idea how. The stories on YouTube told me what it was like, but I still wanted to see the whole process. It was an opportunity for me to make the film I wanted so desperately to see.
Filming it forced me to actually come out. With