Sunday, February 21, 2010

My name is Nik and this is my story...

Well, I've been reading/watching some coming out stories lately on Realjock and figured its about time I put my story out there. Never know, it might help someone and it might help you all understand a bit more about me and who I am. Some of this isn't so easy to put out there, so be aware of that to start...but here it is, my story. Its real, its raw and its me.

I always sort of knew that I liked guys, ever since I was a kid. All my friends liked Tori Spelling or the pink Power Ranger, but I didn't...I had a thing for Luke Perry and the green Power Ranger, but never thought much about it. As I grew and realized more and more that I was actually attracted to men, I had a hard time dealing with it. I passively dealt with it throughout middle and high school, knowing that those feelings were there but not really thinking about them or dealing with them.

Then I graduated. Change, change, many things were not the same anymore and well, I couldn't really handle it. I didn't have my old routine anymore because school was over, I didn't have my first choice of school because some mail was lost and I finally had to deal with the fact that I'm gay. I did find one outlet, and it was the only one I had: a messageboard set up by Danny from the Real World season 9. He was probably the only gay man I saw on TV at the time that was 'normal,' so I related. I was able to chat with people on there and finally took that first step to coming out and admitted that I liked guys (I thought I might like ladies at that point, so I did label myself as bi). I dealt with it in a less-than-healthy way other than that by developing a mild eating disorder and exercising to the point of exhaustion and honestly contemplated suicide a few times...not the best choices, honestly, but it is what it is.

Flash forward a few months; I'm starting to be comfortable with myself liking guys, but not with other people knowing. My friends would joke that I was bi and didn't know it, but I would instantly change the subject or deny it. It was around this time I met Zeke, the first guy I really had a thing for. He was bi and we were flirting. Well, one day coming back from playing DDR, a friend did the whole 'you're bi and don't know it' thing and I said 'yeah, I am.' It was my first time admitting it to another person I knew, and it was the start of my journey. The next to find out directly was Zeke, and I slowly started telling my friends. I told one of my closest friends last because I wasn't sure she'd react well, and it tested our friendship at that took another friend of ours to explain to her why I didn't tell her right off and she apologized immediately. Shortly after I broke it off with my first boyfriend, I changed the label to gay, but still didn't like being called gay because I didn't want the stereotypes applied to me. I'll freely admit right now that I still don't like the stereotypes that come with it, but that's a whole different post...

Soon, I was out to my college friends, but still hid it around my Medical Lake friends. For those who don't know, Medical Lake is a smaller town with a very right-leaning, conservative population that isn't very gay-friendly.

Eventually, I started telling my Medical Lake friends, too. Well, some of them. Others are highly religious and believe that homosexuality is an abomination, so I didn't bother telling them at that point because I didn't want to deal with that stress on top of transferring to a different university.

Keep in mind that I was also dating since I started telling my friends, but keeping it as hidden as I could possibly do when at home because I didn't want my mom to know. There was a particular close call where she found a link to mogenic in the history. I lied and said it was sent to me by a friend from the old message board and she left it at that. I suspect that was her first major clue to my sexuality.

So, at this point I'm starting to become comfortable with being gay and I even fell in love twice. I was out to my instructors, my friends and I was okay with that. Some family members found my facebook profile and I had to limit their view so they couldn't see that. I'd also friends-locked my myspace profile as well. After I graduated with my BA, I started working and left my profiles locked because my co-workers are also highly conservative and religious; and I didn't want to deal with it.

Eventually, my boyfriend at the time came out to his family and wanted me to come out to mine as well. I then started figuring out how to bring it up to my mom. By the time he got back, we'd broken it off and he still wanted to support my coming out to family. It was the last major hurdle in my life that would be lasting, and he helped me figure it out. I set a day, replayed every scenario I could think of and quite frankly was freaking the hell out during the drive down. Both Nick and Kate remember that I get to my mom's and Nick drove off to let me do my thing. I spent a good hour or two just trying to time it and eventually just said "there's something I need to tell you."

"It may or may not be news to you,'m not sure how to say this"
"Just say it, then."
"I'm gay."

Yeah, my mom had already figured it out and didn't really care. She'd had gay friends, but I still wasn't sure how she'd react as she'd made comments (similar to my friend when I first started the process) that made me think she wouldn't take it well. I didn't press it much further than that, and let her bring it up in subsequent conversations. The night I came out to her, I decided 'fuck it' and unlocked my facebook to my family and my myspace as well. My facebook is only hidden to people not on my networks because I still don't feel like dealing with it at work (its already stressful enough), but a good portion of my co-workers under 30 figured it out and don't really seem to care about it. There are a few who know for sure, and don't mind talking about it, either. My capoeira group knows about it, but my kung fu studio doesn't (almost all older men who don't seem so comfortable with it given previous conversations...again, a different post).

So that is where I'm at; out except to two small groups of people. It has been a long and life-changing process, to say the least. I'd dare say that the moments like that fateful drive and conversation with my mom are the ones that make us who we are; they're our tests of character and strength. It shouldn't be a big deal that I'm gay or that someone else is straight, but sadly it is. Many of us deal with this in negative ways as I did when I was younger...some never break free of those habits. Others of us try to channel them into something positive, and still others don't deal with it at all. Each person is different and each person has a story to tell. When you hear about them, remember they aren't just words on a page; they are the experiences of someone who has friends and family who care about them just as you all care about me. They are a living, breathing person who is out there, not just a statistic.

I'm not sure one ever finishes coming out, honestly...but I'm happy to say I'm out there and finally able to be who I am without the guilt, without the pain and without the hiding in the shadows. It is nice to know that I can go about my life without having that extra weight holding me down...there's so much that I want to write, but there just aren't words for the feeling you get from coming out and looking back at it all. There's no way to describe it; you just have to live it and listen to the words of those who are living it...

My name is Nik, and this is my story.