Coming out of the closet was one of the biggest challenges in my life In this blog post, I will talk about my coming out story as a black gay man and how you can come out as well.
Any black gay man can attest to the struggle of living life as a homosexual. We hear tons of homophobic slurs in the streets or even by our own family members. Fortunately, I come from a loving family yet it still took me a while to come out of the closet.
My coming out story
What does it mean by “my coming out story”?
My coming out story means disclosing my sexuality.
Why do gay people feel the need to “come out” and speak publicly about their same-sex relationships?
Gay people like myself feel the need to “come out” to get a weight off their shoulders. When we tell the world about our sexuality it gives us a sense of worth and pride that puts us in a good space mentally.
Slowly coming out as a black gay man……..
The coming out process was long and drawn out. Even before I was a pre-teenager I knew there was something different about me. However, being a young kid from Brownsville there was no way that I would say that I was attracted to males. No way would I dare tell anyone! I was afraid of ridicule and being bullied. I would see how kids treat other kids that had a very soft voice or feminine gestures.
This fear of rejection and ridicule got worse when I got to middle school. I moved from Brooklyn at that time and moved to the suburbs in Queens. Even though I was no longer in a rough neighborhood I still was around the same type of homophobic persons. There were a lot of IGNORANT hood boggers persons(students, parents, and school staff) at the middle school I attended in Queens. At least twice a day I would hear people the phrase “faggot”.
What surprised me is that I even heard a teacher ridicule a student because he appeared feminine. It was disgusting. No one called me a faggot but I feared someone if they found out I was gay. So I did my best to hide my sexuality. I would laugh at gay jokes and would not intervene even if the insults got really bad.
High School Experience as a black gay man
When I got to high school I was exposed to a more diverse crowd. People say that high school was a bad experience but for me, it wasn’t ok. There were jerks and assholes but for the most part, people were open-minded. If I came out during that time I would’ve been protected. However, there was a lingering fear of coming out from experiences in middle school and being in Brownsville. I had a math teacher(can’t remember his name) who suspected I was gay and made me so comfortable about being me that I was going to come out. But then I thought that the only safe haven would be his classroom.
It wasn’t till I was 18 years that I first came out to a guy. I met him on a social networking site called Adam4Adam. He was the person I first started having sexual encounters with. I broke my virginity to a 35-year-old man that I met on Adam4Adam(knock on wood that I didn’t catch anything). I met this Puerto Rican guy(my weakness). Unfortunately, it was a hookup and I never spoke to him after that hookup.
Fast forward 8 years I was still in the closet. The only persons that knew I was gay were men I met on Adam4Adam, Jackd, and other gay social networks. I was unhappy, broken, and alone and felt like my family and friends didn’t even know me. I felt like I didn’t even know myself. Sadly, I was on a path of self-destruction, and to save myself I felt that I had to reveal to the world who I really was.
Coming out to my mom
To save me the first person I need to come out to was my parents. I knew that if the people who raised me could accept me then nobody else matters.
It was a cold season in 2012. I had a conversation with a Puerto Rican guy named Jose I was dealing with. He was a scrumptious man about 32 years old and I told him about me still being in the closet. Jose empathized with me and told me about his coming-out story. He then advised me to come out soon that he came out to his mother over a cup of vodka. Despite being under the influence Jose was still nervous but managed to disclose his sexuality.
Jose’s compassion and words of wisdom gave me a sense of comfort. Jose, wherever you are I want to thank you!! In summer 2012 I first came out to my sister. Right, after speaking with her she urged me to come out to our mother. I remembered Jose’s advice and was going to invite her out for drinks. But, she doesn’t drink at all (the total opposite of me), So I invited her out to Starbucks. I picked her up and brought her to the destination. Once there I revealed the words that I was scared of my whole life, “Mom, I’m gay”. She stood silent and shook her head. Her head nod implied she already knew. She replied, “I love you son” and gave me a big hug.
The beauty of living openly as a black gay man
Coming out is one of the best feelings ever. It’s such a huge release like a rock lifted off your shoulders. You get to live your life more freely in so many types of ways. For instance, I remember one time I went to Washington DC for Howard Homecoming with my line brother and chapter brother. During the daytime, I was with them acting masculine but during the evening I went out to black gay parties and queer events. It was exhausting and tiring having to hide my sexuality and being secretive about places I was going to. After I came out I talked to my line brother about this and he said he had a feeling that I was gay.
Another advantage of coming out is being more informed about sexual health and safe sex practices. After I came I developed a network of friends who provided me advice on Prep and douche. Had I not met these people I most likely would’ve had more gay hookups and would’ve been more at risk of contracting STDs/STIs.
The challenges of living openly as a black gay man
Even though it’s great to disclose your sexuality and live in your truth there are challenges to living as a black gay man.
First, there is still a lot of homophobia that goes on in black neighborhoods which are mostly indirect. You also have to deal with toxic masculinity. I’ve had to excuse myself from certain barbershops and even once stopped going to a barber with who’ve I developed a friendship after the owner made homophobic comments. There were two times I can recall someone calling me a faggot. In one incident I was working at this one job and was in Fort Greene. These hood boogas seen me walking and called me a faggot. They continued to harass me and even told me that I had HIV because I was gay. Fortunately, they didn’t touch me otherwise it would’ve been a problem. So not only do I have to worry about discrimination and racism because of my sexual orientation.
Another challenge living as a black gay man is safety. Fortunately in New York City, there are many gay-friendly and gay neighborhoods like Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and Park Slope where LGBTQ persons can be themselves. However, hate crime still goes on even in some of those places.
Taking care of my sexual health
Young black gay men are one of the groups most impacted
How can I tell my parents that I’m gay?
You can tell your parents that you’re gay by first accepting your own sexuality. If you’re still trying to sort out your feelings and attractions you may confuse other people. Once you gain that self-acceptance you should then come out to your parents.
Invite them out to a calm setting. I would say a park, a cafe, or even Starbucks. If you come out to your parents and they accept you kudos!!! If you get a negative reaction do not engage with them. Let them get out their feelings (as long as they don’t get buck wild) and be prepared to have another conversation with them at another time.
Is it ok for a straight person to write a coming-out story?
No person should write a coming-out story other than the person coming out. Only you can speak your own truth. Whether it takes 10, 15, or 20 years you should come out and tell your story when you are ready.
Coming out is one of the hardest tasks for a gay man, especially a black gay man. As black men, we are already discriminated against because of our skin color and received backlash by even our own kind if we disclose our sexuality.
Now that I’m out of the closet it’s such an amazing feeling. I can attend gay brunches, black gay Pride festivals, and other gay functions without worrying about being outed.
If you are a gay man and you’re struggling with your sexuality there is a place for you. Subscribe below and download my coming-out guide as a black gay man.