20 Years of Gay Prelude: The story itself

[The author, Sept. 1996]Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of my own coming out. It’s not a coincidence. In fact, I set myself up for it.

I was features editor of my college newspaper in 1995 and taking a news writing class at the same time. My professors encouraged me to publish whatever I did for class in the paper. So I assigned myself a story about National Coming Out Day.

It was something of a personal dare.

Five years previous, I fell in love with my best friend in high school, a guy who couldn’t reciprocate. I was still nursing that broken heart when I went to New York City on an exchange program from 1992 to 1993.

A gay guy who was also participating in the program noticed my behavior, particularly toward a mutual straight friend, and explained to me what I was going through. I was not ready to listen to him.

So I pretty much lived in a haze when I returned from New York City to continue my studies in Honolulu. At that point, I pretty much assumed anyone for whom I felt a crush couldn’t possibly return my feelings. I made the same assumption about a guy in the music program who resembled my high school friend.

That brings us to the weeks before Oct. 11, 1995.

I asked a fellow music student if she could reach out to people who wouldn’t mind being interviewed for my article. One of the people who replied was that guy from the music program.

After the article went to press, I met up with him and told him my story. He pointed me to the counseling services on campus, and by the end of that year, I had told select members of my immediate family.

Twenty years on and … well, my dating life has been a total wash.

But I can’t imagine the last two decades carrying the psychic baggage of remaining in the closet. Even if my lifestyle doesn’t reflect how gay (white) men live today, I like having the option to participate. (Even though I’m not white.)

So I’ll be spending this next month commemorating this anniversary by writing about the music and musicians tied to this event and the history leading up to it. At the very least, my Duran Duran fandom will finally be explained.