by Gavin M. Haffner, Thrive LGBTQ+ Ventura County
Coming out is different for every person. I first came out at the age of 21. The day was April 30th, my birthday, and I had carefully planned out how everything would go. I wrote my immediate family a letter, telling them I was gay. I also posted on my fraternity’s Facebook page, and emailed my grandmother. She was incredibly proud of me, but said that she had already known about my sexuality from a young age. My parents and frat were not really surprised either, but I truly got a genuine reaction from my brother. He was eleven years old at the time, and was incredibly surprised, but quickly stated that he “loved me anyway.”
Coming out was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I have known that I was gay since age ten. The world has technically known for five years now. I truly believe that coming out gives queer people power. I now come out all the time, and it has basically become a routine for me. I came out to almost every family member, and almost every friend. If someone does not know my sexuality, I always internally debate when and how to tell them. Being gay is incredibly important to me—in fact, it is one of my very favorite things about myself.
I can barely believe it, but I was in fact in the closet for exactly twenty-one years. You should take a look at my room now. I have a full-size rainbow flag on my wall, and another mini pride flag on my shoe tree. This flag was obtained at Occidental College, and was placed in its current position by me, in front of my family, on the day that I came out. I am a member of the Human Rights Campaign. I have a shirt that says All Love Is Equal. I have an equality key fob, and a ring that depicts the various different colors of the rainbow. Framed on my wall is a copy of the L.A. Times that says ‘Equal Dignity Under the Law’. This was published after marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States.
One of the earliest gay memories that I have took place in fifth grade, during the mandatory sexual education unit. We were given pamphlets about the female and male reproductive systems, and I remember being especially attracted to the diagrams of the penis.
My queerness is incredibly important to me, and I feel incredibly fortunate to belong to a community of others who are so similar to myself. Today, over five years later, I look back to that day when I first came out, and I am filled with pride for both who I am and the person that I have become.
At one point in time, I was admittedly ashamed of my sexuality. I now look back at my former self, and laugh. I am incredibly fortunate to be who I am. Coming out is a process, and it gets easier each and every time. I just wish to address anyone out there, who, for multiple reasons, is still in the closet: coming out can be one of the most fulfilling and powerful things that any LGBT+ identifying individual can ever do. Just know that you are special, and just know that you are loved. In life, this is all that truly matters.
Find more of Gavin M. Haffner's works on his personal blog: http://mrgavinhaff-blog.tumblr.com/