Pride: Reflection on 3 years since coming out of the closet
I don't think I had experienced real peace of mind, peace of self, peace of soul until my "coming out" a mere three years ago.
We're in the midst of Montreal's several Pride and LGBT celebrations and, coincidentally, the anniversary of my coming out — or coming of age, as I like to refer to it.
For much of my life, until three years ago, I suppressed the embarrassment and fear that swallowed me up like quicksand when I asked myself whether I liked boys or girls. The anxiety, uneasiness and dread lived within me for several years, sometimes disappearing for a few days before coming back to haunt me.
As a boy, I had kissed my best friend — call it what you want, experimenting or growing up — but to me, it was the one childish peck that would stay on my mind for decades and fill me with questions about myself.
Throughout high school, I dated girls and even fell in love with one. I was bullied, annoyed and teased but thought to myself "They just don't like creative minds. They want people to throw a ball with."
I grew into an adult and kept dating a fantastic woman who stood by me even after I broke her heart and my own after I collapsed under the excruciating weight of my conscience.
I had to come to terms with it. I am gay.
Even after I made this realization, after I decided to face my sexuality and to take it head on, I remained uncertain of myself, unsure of how people would perceive me.
Would I be discriminated against for being gay? Could I work in a newsroom and be openly gay or would I have to hide under false pretence and hope no one would find out? And what about my military parents? Would they be "cool" with having two gay children? (My younger sister had made her coming out a year before and been welcomed with open arms, but I couldn't help but think masculinity and vulnerability made for a second-rate combination.)
The contrarian in me sometimes want to say "no, it doesn't get better." But you know what? It really does.
I cracked open the proverbial closet door at 21 years of age and have since been exposed to my true self.
The feeling I get when I realize I am at peace of mind, soul and self, is above and beyond anything I've ever felt.
Sure, I've had people call me "faggot," or make wildly inappropriate assumptions about my lifestyle, but ignoring jerks is far easier than ignoring yourself.
At the time, my wonderful parents both told me they were supportive of my choices (a notion that has since changed) but were concerned about the life of potential exclusion or inferiority I would have to face.
Thankfully, the times have changed and I am one of the lucky people who was fortunate enough to find support, love and protection when I needed it.
Now, three years after cracking under the pressure of myself, I have achieved most of the goals I have set as milestones and have overcome the inexplicably complicated fear of myself.
Though I may not take part in many or any Pride celebrations this year, I will take the time to cherish the comfort I have found and continue to support LGBT causes overtly and with pride.
UPDATE — Friday, Aug. 15: I want to say a quick thank you to everyone who has given me feedback on this blog post. I didn't think I'd have such a wide reach, but the support and comments have been amazingly kind. You can watch my appearance on BT Montreal below and hear me on CJAD 800 AM in Montreal Saturday Aug. 16 around 1 p.m. ET.