Coming Out of the Closet

I write a lot of fun posts on this site because I love to have fun, but there are times when I’m serious, because living is serious business and life is a crap shoot. I have a lot of gay friends and they talk at times about the challenges they face every day (over and above the usual everyday issues we all deal with), and this is one of the reasons why, in addition to reviewing M/M romances and gay fiction, I occasionally discuss on the site a few of the issues faced by gay men. I think it’s important for straight people to remember that behind the fictional, fantasy world of M/M romance, gay men live in the real world which is not a fairytale (no pun intended).

Deciding to come out is pivotal to how a gay man lives the rest of his life and this is usually the first step of a life lived out in the open, so I wanted to put a face to a few gay men in respect to the one important decision they made that affected their lives, either positively or negatively.

Gay men in our society have to decide at some point whether or not to come out of the closet. Some do it as teenagers and others much later in life. I wondered what circumstances would motivate that decision. Why did they choose to come out? How tough was it? Were their friends and families supportive? Have their employment opportunities diminished or disappeared since they came out? Now that they are out, do they sometimes wish they could go back into the closet and close the door, or put the genii back in the bottle, because the world is a cold, unfeeling place? Of course no two experiences are alike and it’s important to remember that, as they say in the ads, “individual results may vary.” For some it was an easy transition, but for others it was quite traumatic.

While some gay men have come out of the closet, many of them live their lives “on the down low” because they fear that the negative consequences could affect every aspect of their lives – their jobs, friends, family, community, social life, church etc. Activities that straight people take for granted, something as simple as walking down the street holding hands, are not available to many of them. Some gay men are unhappily married to women and their wives don’t know about their sexual orientation. It must be very difficult and emotionally devastating not to live your life with integrity in this situation. In some countries, even today, they could land in jail or worse if their sexual orientation were known, and in ethnic communities the majority of gay men never come out because those they value would reject them, so they live a lie all their lives. Many gay men live in fear for their lives all around the world, including North America where hate crimes are on the upswing. Gay celebrities have hidden their sexual orientation for decades – Rock Hudson is a prime example and he paid the ultimate price. More recently CNN’s Anderson Cooper was reported to be gay (this has not been substantiated), Ricky Martin and Clay Aiken only recently came out (guess we didn’t know they were gay) :), and rumours have swirled around Tom Cruise, Mr Rogers and Jake Gyllenhaal for years (again unsubstantiated). If it’s that difficult for celebrities with all their support systems to come out if they are indeed gay, how much tougher is it for the ordinary gay man who may end up living the rest of his life alone because family and friends have rejected him, and romance is not even on the horizon?

M/M romances are inundated with stories/fantasies about gay men coming out of the closet. Since readers and writers of the genre are mostly straight women we can only imagine what this is really like. For gay men, being gay is only a part of who they are and they sometimes feel that M/M romances emphasize one aspect of their lives almost to the exclusion of everything else – their sexuality. They are just as three dimensional as you and I, and while being sexually active may at times drive some of what they do, they are like everyone else in the way they live their lives on a daily basis, with one major difference – they are a ‘minority’. They have children, parents, siblings and friends but they have to make a living while coping with the slings and arrows thrown at them by bigots. I’m sure that at times sex is the very last thing on their minds, yet that’s the first thing mentioned when books are written about them, and they are too often portrayed or perceived as one dimensional sex machines by the straight world.

To give you a glimpse of their lives and personal experiences I asked a few gay men to talk about “coming out” or choosing to remain in the closet. Those who have come out have varying experiences which you will read about. For those who are still in the closet, how has this affected them emotionally and how difficult is it to find someone to love? John talks about what that is like. Because of the length of this post (5000 words – yes that’s right, 5K) I am enclosing the individual histories as a PDF file. I hope that these stories will give you a greater understanding of what it really takes for a gay man to either “come out” or remain in the closet.

I would like to thank Rick R. Reed, John, Ethan Day (who had to give his piece his signature take), Christian Otto, Sean Kennedy, Batboy 126 and Ozakie Knotts for taking the time to tell their stories. Guys, this is my homage to you. You rock !! (and that includes you, too, Ethan) :)

ComingOutOfTheCloset [PDF]


  • Hi Lynn

    I’m surprised that you could drag yourself away to even post a comment because I know how busy you are for the next couple of weeks.

    Thank you for your help converting the stories to PDF. Someday maybe I’ll be able to do some of the stuff I’m always calling on you and Christian to do. :)

    I’m so happy that your own coming out was painless, which makes you very lucky, and you are so right – support is so important. Most folks (men and women) go through an entirely different process on a continuing basis.

    The guys were so open, something that struck me over and over, and I can’t thank them enough for sharing their stories.

  • Thank you all who shared your stories and Wave for writing this important article. I just love this site!
    I’m grateful to my mother who was raised as a Catholic but didn’t raise her children into it. During my childhood she often talked about the author Federico García Lorca and that he was killed because he was homosexual, not that I understood back then but it always stuck with me.

    It’s easy sometimes to forget that we live in a very small island that is the Western world. The rest is much bigger and not as tolerant.

    According to the Swedish Wiki article the practice of outing someone has been known since the Roman Empire. Interestingly, lesbians were possibly considered to be potentially dangerous or “unknown”.

    Fortunately in Sweden we have this:

    • Hi Vivia
      Thank you so much for reading the guys’ stories. It really makes it worthwhile that so many people did. I’m sure the guys had reservations when I asked them to participate but no one turned me down and they were so open I was astonished.

      I learned a lot from the stories and I hope that everyone reading them will get a greater understanding of what being gay and coming out of the closet is like.

      Of course this is a small sampling of the experiences of gay men, and some of the stories are atypical, but I hope that they will help by lifting the veil momentarily.

      Thank you also for the link to RFSL. It’s great to know that organizations like that exist to help GBLTQ folks in Sweden. Similar organizations exist throughout the world but unfortunately they do not prevent discrimination and violence against gays, lesbians, bi, trans and queer people.

  • I’m so late to the party (another week of falling behind reading this great blog), but thanks for posting this, Wave, and thanks so much to the guys who contributed, and to Aunt Lynn for transforming it into the PDF.

    Great stuff–something in each account reminded me of my coming outs (plural–as they said, a never-ending process) over the years.

    • Hi Kendall

      We all have work and family pressures that come first. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and reading the guys’ stories. I think the important thing is that this post with the attached stories attempts to bring a different perspective, maybe a paradigm shift, to what happens when someone comes out. As indicated, and you confirm this yourself, coming out is not as simple as most straight people assume – it’s a never ending process which is quite stressful and sometimes the stress results in a few people going back in the closet.

      Yes, Lynn is one of my go-to technical experts. Technology and I are not friends :) and so when I have to do something that requires a bit of technical expertise I consult with Lynn and Christian Otto, our webmaster.

    • Cait
      Thanks for checking out the guys’ stories. It was my pleasure to do this for them – they are all wonderful men.

  • You you could make changes to the page name title
    Coming Out of the Closet – Reviews by Jessewave to more specific for your subject you make. I loved the the writing even sononetheless.

  • Wow, what an amazing group of brave people! This is the first time I’ve been on this web site (link was from m/m romance group on Goodreads). I feel priviledged to have had an opportunity to read these wonderful individual’s stories of coming out, some more difficult than other’s but nonetheless important.
    I’m a straight supporter and have a brother who is gay and very happily living with his partner of 10 yrs in Queensland, Australia now. His coming out took a long time and was actually accidental in the end, but long overdue, as he was living a lie and it must of been so excruciatingly difficult for him. But amazingly, coming from a fairly strict catholic family, my parents were the revelation being very accepting of him and his partner and continue to this day.
    For my own family, made up of myself and two daughters, I have made a point of teaching my girls the importance of accepting people’s differences (whether race, sexual orientation & the like)to be not only the right thing to do but the only thing to do. I’m fortunate to not have had a life of ridicule and have had freedom to be who I am & who I choose to love and understand that everyone deserves the right to that basic need in life. So although my comments are very much after the fact in regards to the original post I’m pleased I could make them, thanks:)

  • Hi, My name is Ben. Some people know I am gay. Many suspect. Most don’t. Why? Well I kind of got something stuck to my shoe in the closet. It just so happens to be christianity. I’m fairly certain that if I am gay and act on my wants that all I have to look forward to in the long run is hell. I’m deathly scared. I believe in the bible, I believe in God and I know I have seen miracles worked and heard of many. When I think about this, given the whole miracles thing, I think that that means all of the bible must be true and therefore it must be the Devil giving me these thoughts. I know I am gay (though my sister tells me its the Devil) but I many times believe it was myself who put this on me. Are there any devout christians out there who are gay as I am and found out an answer. Or is there anybody out there that knowns and REMEMBERS from the bottom of their heart that they were gay even when they were little? I need a lot of help… Someone? P.S. I am 18.

    • Hi Ben

      Thank you for commenting on this post.

      I’m really sorry you feel that being gay is the work of the Devil. It’s been demonstrated scientifically for decades that people are born gay so you should not feel guilty about your sexual orientation and whether or not it conflicts with your religious beliefs. There are many studies about the number of gays worldwide and a Gallop study conducted in 2002 estimates that the number of gays in the US (which would probably be similar to Canada) is around 20%, but no one knows for sure. More people are coming out every day but it’s a difficult process and sometimes it’s a lifelong endeavour as you can guess from this post.

      If you would like to email me at I’ll ask a couple of gay men who are religious, to respond to you and perhaps offer some help. In the meantime I don’t know if you saw this post by Josh Lanyon a few weeks ago called What would Jesus Do? Here’s a link.

      You will notice that there were many religious gay men and women who commented and talked about their relationship with Jesus. Check out the responses from Stuart and Toby Johnson, among others.

      I’m also enclosing a link to a blog called born this way which contains accounts of gay men and lesbian women from childhood, with photographs of them as young as 4 years old. Here’s a link to that blog.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      • I’m not going to lie, I want to be gay. My body says I am but in my head I guess I have conflicting thoughts. How do you know scientists know that you are born that way? I read the blog that talks about how people have always known and one girl talked about how she was in the same sleeping bag with her counselor. That would be a major turning point in ones life altering ones thoughts. No child would go in to a situation like that. One person talked about how homosexuality is a learned behavior and that kids aren’t born that way. It’s impossible for scientists, as far as I know, to be able to know it;s not a learned behavior. When I was little, I liked women. I also remember that I went through this phallic stage in my life when I was fascinated with the male body, my own and others’. I really don’t know where that came from but I remember also when I was little people would make fun of me and call me gay. It wasn’t until I asked myself if I was gay that I started thinking that I truly was. At first I didn’t really like the thought but then I figured there has to be something bothering me all the time (this is when I was little I thought I should always have an issue at hand) and then I guess I grew more accustomed to the idea. I need a lot of help. Lol.

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