“And you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you”
Have you ever overcome something in life that when you’re finally finished with it, you feel as if the world is off your shoulders? In 2012, that’s how I felt. I felt like I could breathe much easier and my mind had achieved clarity. I no longer had what society deemed as ‘secret’. I, Eric Kelley II, came out of the closest!
For those that don’t know what that means, “Coming Out of The Closest” describes a person that finally announces their sexual orientation if it’s not that of heterosexuality and it’s SOOO FREEING! I would describe it as if you took flight to a destination that you’ll never return from because you know this is where you need to be! Although, it’s very terrifying!
My coming out story was indeed just that. I did not intend to tell a group of over 200 people that night that I was gay, but that’s exactly what happened. I was in college and an campus organization had a program about chivalry. I’m a chivalrous guy and thought it would be great to show my support. Once there, we went thru several subjects, but the one that caught my attention the most was “Gay Men and Chivalry”. There was a girl on the panel of the program and she informed the audience that gay men did not have to chivalrous and that didn’t sit right with me. How could someone who doesn’t know anything about me or the community I’m a apart of tell all these people what gay men should or should not do! That’s when a had word vomit. Everything I thought, exploded from my mouth and in an instant I had let this crowd know that I was gay.
I didn’t even realize what I had done! Not to say I freaked out, but I definitely plunged deep into my own thoughts and was frozen for awhile. Those thoughts that froze my now publicly colorful soul, were telling me: “You’re not going to have any friends after this”, “Now all these people are going to be in my business”, and the best one was “My parents are going to disown me!”. As tears swelled in my eyes from the decision, I was greeted with the most unexpected acceptance from my peers. Even my friends I once heard gay bashing were making jokes and congratulating me for ‘Coming Out the Closest’. Was this the hero that lies in me?
*GASP* It was unbelievable, but the journey wasn’t over just yet. There was still one more obstacle: my Mom. The person that I consider perfect and my hero wasn’t happy with my decision to be openly and happily gay. She wasn’t very nice to me and I did not know what to do with those hurtful words she said to me. It got so bad that at one point I decided that I could no longer take the disrespect and I stopped talking to her a few months. Those months were and still the darkest times of my life. My favorite human being in the world seemed to no longer care for me for just being me. I didn’t understand.
Fast forward to now. My mom and I have since seen things differently but we have agreed to respect one another, know that we love each other and that’s all that matters. My coming out story is honestly milder than most because I know that not everyone has been accepted. Some people have been thrown out of their parent’s homes, disowned by loved ones, spit on, beaten, called names and other horrifying things because they chose to tell their truths and be proud of who they were.
National Coming Out Day should remind us that everyone is different and beautiful in their own special way. I understand how hard it is and not everyone is always willing and ready to speak their truths, but when you are, just know, there are many others that are here for you! I’m here for you! I’m not saying that things will, now, be perfect. Oh no no no! Quite the opposite, but things will get better and you will finally feel comfortable with who are, explore more about yourself and start the loving of yourself that you deserve! Take it from me, it will make the world of difference! Happy National Coming Out Day!
Eric Kelley II