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ON COMING OUT
two hours of talking I finally took a deep breath and looked
into the eyes of the man I hated. The cold eyes of my father
looked back at me and they began to tear up.
My father was crying.
This was not was supposed to happen… this was
not in my plan. He was supposed to rage and scream and throw me
out of the house. But now he was crying. What the hell was I
going to do? The day I came out to my mom and Dad was one of the
toughest days of my life. The truth is I really thought
I hated my dad. I was wrong. I loved him. I really only ever
wanted him to accept me, to be proud of me. I just didn’t think
that was possible. Especially now that he couldn’t even look me
in the eyes. I hated myself and I wanted to die.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know I
was gay. I may not have known what to call it and for a long
time I probably wouldn’t have even associated it with sexual
attraction. But something was different. I was acting from the
time I was a child and one of the very first jobs I ever had was
playing a sick kid in some bad TV show and Alec Baldwin was
giving me mouth to mouth resuscitation. Alec Baldwin! I couldn’t
wait to get to work. I would sit and stare at him all day long.
And I couldn’t stand not to be around him. I think I was eight
years old at the time.
When I started high school I was a
full-fledged television star and girls had my pictures pinned up
on their bedroom walls. I was a teen heartthrob for God’s sake,
untouchable. But it didn’t matter. Somehow THEY knew. Years
before I’d ever experienced the first amazing brush of another
mans lips across my own somehow THEY KNEW. I’d hear those words
shouted across the hall, or scribbled across my binder…“ACTOR
FAG.” They were like razor blades across my soul.
How could they know? Maybe it was the terror
I barely held at bay in gym class. Horrified to be left out but
maybe even more horrified to be asked to play… then they’d
REALLY know. After gym came the locker room, even worse, wanting
so desperately to see but so scared that with one look everyone
Know what exactly? That I was flawed? That I
was the sick homosexual deserving of God’s retribution in the
form of AIDS that my mother talked about? Maybe.
A few years after that, when I was 20, I
was outed in a major tabloid magazine. Shortly before that I
made the long drive down to sit in front of my parents and tell
them I was gay. I thought, sitting there, wondering if my dad
would ever look at me again that my life was over. It was only
My dad and I are so incredibly close today
it’s hard to imagine the fear I’m talking about. Coming out has
lead me on the most extraordinary journey of discovery and
usefulness I could ever imagine. I have learned to love SO well
and I am SO proud of the life I live.
I have long held that those of us who are gay
or lesbian, bisexual or transgender have been given an
extraordinary gift because it forces us to go inside and decide
once and for all that what is inside of us is good and if we
have anything at all to give the world we are going to find it
somewhere along that journey and we are going to show it to the
world in a declaration of brilliant defiance against society and
its rules. And we only go looking because our sexuality forces
us to. How lucky are we? But it’s easy to forget the pain which
forces us to go looking in the first place.
I’m writing this after reading a post of yet
another suicide. This time 19-year-old Zach Harrington who,
according to a report in the Dallas Voice, took his life after
attending a “hate-filled city council meeting” in his small town
I think I know what you must be feeling.
You’re terrified and you think it will always be like that. It
won’t. The world seems so hard and you feel so different and so
dirty inside. You are not.
Man, I want to put my arms around you and
promise you what I know beyond the shadow of a doubt to be true;
you are the most awesome of all creations. You are loved beyond
imagining by a creation that has made you unique and special so
that you will carry a unique and special message to everyone you
meet along the way. THERE IS NO ONE IN THE WORLD LIKE ZACH!
There never has been and there never will be and we cannot allow
a world that doesn’t see that. You are whole perfect and
complete, right now, exactly as you are, and I cherish a world
that knows how lucky it is to have Zach Harrington in it.
I love you. We love you. Just hang on.