It took me six years to say these two words out loud: “I’m gay.” And this was to myself, alone, at 2 in the morning, as I smoked a cigarette outside my house. I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. Instead, I just sort of whimpered, feeling sorry for myself. Regardless of the pathetic circumstances, I finally admitted my sexuality to myself, something that felt near impossible at many points throughout my adolescence. Now a third year in college, I was finally garnering the confidence that might take me to the next step, and the steps after that to coming to terms with my personhood. I even made a New Years resolution to come out by the end of that year (as naïve and unrealistic as that sounds).
But when my sister came out just six months after my own existential confession, my aspirations were quickly devastated. This time I did cry, once again alone, after I received the phone call from her. But selfishly it was for myself, not my sister. While you’d assume her confession would spark a comfort in me, as I now had someone close to me experiencing the very same insecurities, it most certainly had the opposite effect. Instead, I grew angry, anxious, and felt my lowest points of loneliness.
Although my parents were very open and accepting of my sister and her newly introduced girlfriend, I suffered even deeper uncertainty regarding my own progression with the coming out process. I couldn’t bear to be my family’s second queer child, and the pressure to live out a normative, heterosexual relationship imploded around me. Most of all, and most unfortunately, I was mad at my sister. Worst of all, I felt awful knowing I felt that resentment towards her.
While she was experiencing similar, if not more extreme emotions at the time, I couldn’t help but feel cheated. As if an identity reserved for myself was stolen. As if I now was even further expected to stay in the closet so that she could live out her sexuality freely. Even if those sentiments weren’t true, they crowded my mind.
Needless to say, I closeted myself further. I distanced myself from my family even more, as I isolated myself for the summer in the safe haven of my college town. Always “too busy to come home for a visit,” even if it was just for a few days. I didn’t want to see them. I didn’t want to meet her girlfriend. I didn’t want to be forced face-to-face with a reality that I knew I could have if I just got over my own selfish pride. I never asked my sister about her, about what she was going through, or how she felt. I didn’t want to know the details because I felt like I knew them already, and a part of me felt like she stole them from me.
It took a long time for me to come to terms with my new set of circumstances. It took even longer for me to pretend that I wasn’t mad at my sister. But now, looking back at this, almost a year later, I can say I’m no longer angry at anyone other than myself. And while that may not be the healthiest or most ideal situation for a gay guy, it’s better than the latter.
I eventually realized that channeling all the antipathy towards my sister only further antagonized and subjected both of us to the self-hatred that being closeted breeds. Denigrating my sister’s coming out experience for the sake of my own only perpetuated the gay experience. I realized I didn’t want to take part in that any longer. I never stopped loving my sister, but for a time, I felt like I couldn’t respect her. My sister’s own homosexuality additionally reflected a deeper hate in myself that I couldn’t understand or even expect to fathom. It’s still hard for me to this day to accept that I too will eventually have to join her in this coming out club. But, at least for now, I can say I’ve learned to love and appreciate her own story and her own bravery, as she has helped pave the way for mine.