when i knew #23.
by Michael King
“I have sometimes been envious of people who have known they were gay since five, six, seven. That was never me. When I look back on those years, I only see a childhood filled with kickball games, summer camp, and playground antics. Who I was as a sexual being never came into focus.
“However, as I became older, I automatically recognized that I was different. I would not define it as identifying my own gayness, but more of a recognition that I was not attracted to girls in the same way the guys in school were attracted to other girls.
“I continued to compartmentalize my own concerns about my sexuality until there were no other spaces in my brain to move the self-confusion and hurt. A decision had to be made.
“It was a dark evening, and I was lying on the second floor of my parent’s house, the window shades open and the moon hitting the reflection of the room, creating a bright white space. I sat staring out at a tree next to my window (which had become ‘my tree’ at that point), and I contemplated who I was and what I stood for. I knew that this was the moment; I recognized that I had reached a fork in the road and that I needed to make a decision.
“The first choice was to live a life as an openly gay male, something I knew nothing about (besides incredibly flamboyant men on television). The second choice was to choose silence, to allow the closet doors to devour me. I can still feel the dissonance that crept through the hairs on my head and came out through the tips of my toes. As my body grew tenser and tenser, I knew that I was not ready; I knew that I had to take the road more traveled. I chose silence and, for six years, lived my life in that manner.
“Over ten years have passed since that moment, and I can still physically feel the fear that I felt in those moments lying in bed. I spent years denying my true self because I lived in fear of breaking down, a breakdown from looking at the truth. It was only until I graduated from college, a month from graduate school, that me coming out to myself as a gay man came to fruition. As difficult as it was, life has not been brighter or better.”