Scott’s Coming Out/Waking Up Story

Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Scott's Blog | 0 comments

When I was a young child, I had no idea what “gay” meant.  Homosexuality was virtually never talked about in my family, except for a few tight-lipped stories of a gay friend of the family.  All that I really knew was that I was attracted to boys, not girls.  That was my experience, not my identity.  From age seven to eleven, I experimented sexually quite a bit with boys my age, all of it consensual.  But again, I never made a connection between that activity and the thought, “I’m gay.”

Around age twelve, I was watching TV one afternoon.  It was the early 80s when the gay rights movement was really taking off and the AIDS epidemic was all over the media.  I saw people calling themselves gay or lesbian and holding up signs about being proud.  Others were holding up signs that said “Fags will rot in hell” and “Homosexuality is against God’s law.”  Still, I made no connection between those people on the TV and my own identity.  That had nothing to do with me, so I thought . . . .  “I’m just attracted to my friends sometimes.”   

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Then, it all changed. Sitting alone one day in my house, in freshman year of high school, I had a sudden earth-shattering epiphany, “Holy Shit, I’M GAY!”  I repeated it over and over again, as if to convince myself that this is really who I am. “I’m Gay, I’m Gay.”  It didn’t feel at the time that I was convincing myself of anything.  This clearly felt like realizing who or what I was.  The identity-making mind had kicked in full throttle.  I felt liberated to finally know and yet absolutely terrified at what that meant.

The next few years of high school were about hiding my identity, tucking myself neatly away into the closet, and dating girls to cover up the truth about myself.  By the time I attended Western Kentucky University, I was ready to stop hiding.  I came out of the closet and told everyone, one by one.  The experience of telling my loved ones was so terrifying that I would either throw up afterwards or medicate myself with drugs before and after to cover up the fear and shame.  That was the late 80s and early 90s in the Midwest.  Need I say more?  Gay was not quite cool back then.

Now that I look back at those days of growing up, I can see what happened.  There were observed regularities happening in my experience and I took those observed regularities and made an identity out of them.  When I was a young kid, I experienced the regularity of having same sex attractions and engaging in sex with those of the same gender.  That was a series of experiences unfolding in my life, not a fixed identity.  Everywhere I went – school, neighborhood play grounds, sporting events – I noticed that this regularity was happening.  But nothing in my mind solidified those string of different experiences into a fixed identity – until freshman year.  High school years are all about finding who we are, setting ourselves apart from others.  In my school, there were the jocks, the marching band kids, the popular kids, the outcasts, the nerds, and the stoners.  I didn’t seem to fit into any of those categories, but at least I knew who I was.  My mind settled into an identity by looking back at these observed regularities.

Turning observed regularities into an identity is what most of us do.  For example, someone who experiences the observed regularity of loving to dance, expressing herself with her body whenever music is playing or even entering dance competitions turns that stream of experiences into who she is.  “I’m a dancer.”  She concretizes a fluid stream of recurring experiences and interests into an identity.  People who look back at a string of experiences of being addicted to a certain drug call themselves “addicts.”  Those who experience the regular occurrence of loving to participate in sports become “athletes.”  Isn’t this what the mind does, turns the ever-changing play of experience into something fixed and solid called a “me?”

But isn’t being gay different?  Our culture tells us that being gay is a fixed, inherent identity.  It’s just who you are.  Period.  The whole political debate on gay rights issues centers partly on the issue of whether being gay is a choice or whether we were born this way.  The argument that it is not a choice makes it seem more like an identity than just a fluid play of experiencing.  For all I know, I was born with this sexual orientation.  But that still doesn’t explain that it is who I am.  People are born with blue eye color but do not identify themselves as “blue-eyed people.”

A deep questioning of my entire identity – from lawyer, to songwriter, to gay man, to person – began to be explored around age 34.  This led to a direct, ongoing, experiential seeing that there is no inherent, fixed self.  That blows the lid off the idea that I am actually any thought including “I am gay.”  When I ask the question, “Who am I really?” nothing comes up, just a deep peace and quietness.

As freedom deepened over the years, I began to explore more hidden, deficiency stories.  Like so many of my LGBT friends, I had grown up internalizing the cultural intolerance and homophobia.  I carried around stories of not being good enough and being unlovable, which had connections to being gay.  Yet coming out to a thousand friends, family members or strangers didn’t fully release these stories.  They were buried deep in my unconscious thoughts and emotions.

Using the Living Inquiries, all of that began to release, further catapulting me into a passion for encouraging other LGBT members to look, not only at the basic LGBT identities but at all the other deficiency stories connected to it.  I began to see through conditioning around sex being private, dirty and wrong too.  All of this loosened things up, allowing a more natural expression in the area of sex, intimacy, relationships and even social and political issues.  Life is now much simpler, and more satisfying and enjoyable around all these issues.

I spent years after the initial awakening having absolutely no interest in gay rights issues or marriage equality.  One could say I was “stuck in the idea of the absolute,” which means that I was negating even conventional designations such as “I am gay,” or “I am a songwriter.”  Negating is different than seeing through something.  It’s a denial of relativity, a turning away from the play of life even after seeing its illusory, unfindable nature.  As that started to shift, I began to see these issues very differently.  I felt a pull to look again, with different eyes, at this whole “I’m gay” thing.  What I realized, for myself, is that identifying as gay was a natural part of growing up.  During the time in which my ego was developing, it just felt right, like a rite of passage.  After all, expressing love and sexuality was and is a big part of human experience.  Self-identifying started me on the path of self-acceptance and coming out to friends and family so that I didn’t have to hide this part of my experience.  And coming out has other social, political and legal implications.  It allows all LGBT people to speak up in the face of intolerance and discrimination, to bust the myths and stereotypes that abound in our cultures.

The words “I’m gay” feel totally different now, appearing oh-so-lightly like an empty reflection on the surface of water.  They function as a convenient way of summing up the story, “I find myself attracted to guys, not girls.”  In a palpable way, it’s like returning to the innocence of childhood, when same sex attraction was seen as a stream of experience, not a fixed, conceptual identity.  Within that stream of experiencing, I find myself supporting gay rights issues 100% but it just doesn’t feel that personal.  I can speak up and state my view without having to feel threatened in the face of some adverse view.  And if the perception of a threat arises, the Anxiety Inquiry reveals that the threat isn’t real.  Ah, that’s nice.  That’s freedom – to find nothing and no one to defend.

In the midst of this deepening, I find a renewed interest in LGBT issues, but with a totally different perspective.  This blog is my platform to begin expressing this odd, but deliciously freeing, paradox between experientially finding no self while not denying the conventional designation of that self, including the thought, “I’m gay.”  This blog is also the vehicle to give voice to others going through this metamorphosis.  Maybe you are just coming out now or thinking about it.  Maybe you have been out for years but are looking to go deeper into a self-acceptance that doesn’t depend on others accepting you (it’s found within).  Maybe you are stuck in the idea of the Absolute.  Or maybe you are ready to shed that idea now and welcome in the paradox.  Whatever it is, there is probably something on this site for you.