6 July 2003

Story - Out of The Shadows and Into The Light

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime, it’s that nothing goes as planned. As such, coming out didn’t happen at all the way I planned it. It was a typical story: get Mom, Dad, and my sister together, and do it in person. The same went for my friends. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that that’s not how it went.


I’ll start from the beginning. I’m 19, a student at McGill, going into my third year.

I made some friends at my residence, one of which was a guy from Calgary. He never said to us, “I’m gay,” it was always, “I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’m just me.” Either way, it was pretty obvious from the start that he was not like other boys. So in May of 2002, I stopped by his room, looking very troubled and uncertain of how to proceed. He was sitting at his desk, which meant I had to sit on the bed. I looked at him and asked, “”Can I talk to you about something?”” I think what shocked me the most, was his response : “”Darren, is this going to be a coming out talk?”” Needless to say, my jaw dropped and I looked down into my lap. Well, that day he did all the talking. He told me what I should be asking myself. The bottom line was : “”You should figure out what direction you want to take now because you’re standing at a fork in the road. I won’t tell anyone, but you need to decide if you want to continue down this path of openness or if you want to go back into the closet.”” I didn’t say a word through his entire spiel. Nor did I say anything when I left. I just got up and left.

As the week wore on, I made the decision to continue with this. I had opened the door, and now I was going to walk through it. So, over the next few days I told most of my friends. I expected shock from most of them, but as most you already know, they’re never shocked, just happy that you’ve come to accept who you are. It’s all very odd, because I always believed that I played a very convincing straight guy. I guess not.

By the end of that summer, I had told all of my closest friends, and was saying it in passing to acquaintances. I came out to my younger sister when I got home for the summer. She took it really well. Said it was so cool because she had always wanted a gay guy friend. Typical. I had become ‘‘Will’ and had acquired my ‘’Grace’. As for my parents, I never said anything until November 2002.

I met my first boyfriend in September, but we didn’t start dating until October. Well, one Sunday night I was talking to my Mom on the phone and it went as it always did. “How is school? How are you doing? Are you eating enough? How are your friends?” The like. I answered each of these patiently, and when I mentioned that I was making lots of new friends she popped the dreaded question: “Anyone significant?” My first instinct was to lie. To say no. But instead I forged ahead. I told her, “”Yeah, but she’s not a she. She’s a he.””

And it went from there. I told her all about him and how I was now seeing guys instead of girls. Not that I had ever dated many girls (two to be exact), so not being a total ‘Mack’ was not a complete surprise to my parents. By the end of the conversation, we were both crying and Mom was saying how happy she was that I was happy, and that she wanted to hug me so very badly. It was a perfect chick flick moment. The one thing that didn’t help was the last thing she said to me, “I wish I could see Dad’s face when you tell him.” My heart sank.

My boyfriend didn’t have such luck with his parents ; they practically disowned him when he came out to them. In any case, he was totally rooting for me when it came time to tell my Dad later that week. I met him for dinner (he works here on contract, so he’s here during the week, and home on weekends), and that’s when I broke the news to him. I waited until about halfway through the main course before saying anything. But it started something like, “So I met someone a few weeks ago. He’s real nice. We’re sort of seeing each other now.” But what he did next surprised me the most. I was expecting him to turn green, and then bulk up like the Hulk, but he didn’t. He sat calmly through it and I think I spent most of that conversation in shock and surprise because what he said made me so happy to have him as a father. He said, “If that’s your decision there’s not a whole lot I can do about it, now can I? Besides, even if I disagreed with it, I doubt that there’s much I could say to change your mind. You’re my son, and nothing can change that.”

That was last November. Since then, I have taken steps to ensure that people around me know that I’m gay. Most of my family is aware (i.e.: cousins, siblings, parents, uncles and aunts, etc.), all of my friends know, and I give most people who meet me for the first time a pretty clear image. This story is rapidly becoming the norm, so don’t be afraid to do it. You’ll be glad you did.