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.

Adam Ross Nelson
3 min readDec 22, 2018

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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…

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Adam Ross Nelson

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