Quality of Life: Happy Anniversary
Making the choice to come out let Adam Ross Nelson live openly. 10 years later he looks back at how he did it.
This article originally published in Our Lives Magazine May/June 2009 issue.
Ten years ago I came out to almost everyone in less than twenty-four hours. That was a busy summer. I was a year out of high school, had just turned nineteen, fresh home from a year abroad, preparing to start college, and planning a trip to visit my dad near the headwaters of the Mississippi.
I had spent the previous two years contemplating the prospect of coming out. The hardest part was that coming out meant admitting I hadn’t been fully honest with everyone. I remember a sense of comfort about being different, but admitting a lack of honesty tormented me.
I wondered why gay people even needed to come out in the first place. It was frustrating knowing that being out would have been so much easier if I had just been out from the beginning.
Now I know society denies gay people the privilege of being out from the start of our lives.
I didn’t know any better at the time so I blamed myself for just holding it in. Now I know society denies gay people the privilege of being out from the start of our lives. Not being honest wasn’t my fault because I didn’t hold it in; everyone else assumed it didn’t exist.
In my ignorance, I searched for a solution and the one I found involved, going abroad after high school. While abroad, everybody in my life was new to me. Having never met these people meant that being out didn’t require admitting a lack of honesty. That strategy didn’t work; I’m not sure why. After a year with two stints abroad, punctuated by a semester at college, I still hadn’t come out. Time for a new plan.
The new plan involved holding society accountable for denying us all the privilege of automatically being out. If they cared to know, they’d have to ask.
At 3:00 a.m. in a restaurant with high school friends home for the summer, the question came quicker than I had anticipated.
What’s up with you and the ladies anyway, Adam?
I choked on the make-or-break moment before the server could ask, “What can I getcha?” [Imagine this…