Coming Out – Chapter 2

Continued from Chapter 1

During the final two years of high school, I had my first concrete thoughts of myself as a possible homosexual. As I started dating girls and gaining an adolescent awareness of my sexuality, it became clearer to me that while I had feelings for those girls, the feelings were not the same as the thoughts I was having about other boys. This recognition did not just suddenly shift into focus but was something that I realized over time. 

It is the same feeling as when you are putting together a picture puzzle and you manage to fit two pieces together, but deep down you know that the fit isn’t exact.  You’ve forced it.  Slowly, I recognized that the fit wasn’t right, that I was forcing it.  And this recognition was filled with self-hatred.  I remember thinking, maybe I am like that but even if I am, I would certainly never act on it!

It is hard to convey the anguish I felt, a sense of disappointment in myself that was so great that I came very close to committing suicide. Reflecting back on this time of my life, it is a little embarrassing to share. It seems so over-dramatic and is such a poor example of the person I’ve become. But at that time, the pain of self-hatred, of fear of being different, consumed me to such a great degree that I thought that ending my life might be the only option.

There was one dark night when I was at home alone, huddled under my desk with tears running down my cheeks. I walked down the lightless hallway into the kitchen and pulled a knife from the drawer. The moonlight reflecting off the blade is still seared into my memory. The only thing that stopped me from killing myself was the sense that I had a few friends who I was certain, despite them not knowing about this part of me, would accept me as I was if ever they found out.

2009-10-11Above, family photo taken in secondary school, somewhere around tenth grade.  

Growing up, I had many conflicts with my father, a rocky relationship that, without going into unnecessary detail, could be described as both of us failing to live up to our expectations of each other. I’ve come to believe that one of the hardest parts of being a parent is not imposing your expectations and aspirations onto your children, but instead giving them the room to be who they are. By the same token, the hardest part of being a child is realizing that no matter how they express it, deep down, your parents want only the best for you.

My struggle with my own identity was compounded by a sense of disconnection from my father and, by extension, from my family. By the time I had graduated high school and spent a few months at a local junior college, I realized I needed to leave home at find my own space in the world.

In January 1990 I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of California at Riverside, a school where I knew just one friend. Arriving mid-way through the academic year made it challenging to build friendships but I soon found some, mostly through my work at the campus radio station. It was in the KUCR newsroom that I met the girl who I thought had changed everything and put my world to right.

Finally! What they said was right all along: I just needed to meet the right girl. We dated for several months and I thought things were going swimmingly. We became intimate and I thought that the sense of hollowness was finally filled.

Then one day while I was attending summer classes, she called me and said we needed to talk. She drove out from her parents’ home and, without warning or explanation and sitting in the unfurnished living room of the apartment she had just taken a lease out on, she broke up with me. To this day, I have no idea why. Was she seeing someone else? Had she figured out something about me that I had still not come to grips with? I don’t know.

Part 3 continues here.

37 thoughts on “Coming Out – Chapter 2

  1. I’m hooked too!!  I wonder if she reads your blog…  I also wonder if your mother reads it because I gotta tell you, the mom in me was hard pressed to contain the sobs during your recount of that lonely, dark night.  Thank you for sharing Chris, truly.

  2. It’s difficult to try to communicate to someone, especially someone whose unconditional and uncritical love you desire, that it is not mere behavior that’s being addressed but your identity. I’ve had difficulties with family even with something so simple as my politics, which are tied to my ideals and beliefs, which are inextricably bound to who I am. To hear them dismiss those ideas as stupid or somehow subversively evil is to hear them call me and others I value stupid or evil by extension; you’re right that parents do want the best for their young’uns, though when my “best” clashes with their “best,” it’s very hard to take sometimes… but not as hard as what you describe here. Again, thank you for telling your story.

  3. Chris, I had no idea you were going through so much at that time. I am so sorry we didn’t help you. It is a testament to your character that you were able to make it through that awful time and progress to where you are today. Congratulations. I am proud of you and proud to call you my nephew.

  4. This is a very powerful story. Thanks for sharing it so far. The wisdom about understanding our parent’s aspirations and hopes and how we should interpret their actions is so true. I wished I had learned that earlier.

  5. @ElusiveWords – It seems to be the nature of people that we can’t learn those lessons any earlier or any easier.  There is a poignant note of regret in life that we realize things only after going through such difficulty and struggle.@stebow – Thank you for the nice comment.  I’ve been very supportive to have you and Dick around, especially after my parents moved back to Indy.  The amount of unconditional love I’ve received since coming out has been an important factor in my growth as a person.

  6. Wow I just saw read chapter 2! I have to go back and read chapter 1 but wow! I am sure many of us felt the same sense of loss, fear and despair when we first realized we were gay. I never dated a girl but always wondered what it would feel like…perhaps a sense of lying. Anyways can’t wait for the next chapter!

  7. Such a candid post, it’s like reading a memoir hehe. And I also have had thought about suicide in high school due to my sexuality. I’m not surprised at all by the statistics about gay men and suicide. PS. I went to UCR too! =D

  8. @brooklyn2028 – There are themes that run through all our coming out stories, even while many of the details may vary.@agmhkg – @venice – @choyshinglin – Part III Tuesday morning, Thai time.  By “Thai time” I don’t mean it will be very tardy… I mean GMT+7.@Rm2046 – Several peer-reviewed studies have identified that GLBT and questioning youth are several times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.  I can only hope that as visibility increases, there will be a corresponding decline in the sense by some youths that suicide might be an option.@Wangium – It looks like me, about 40 pounds lighter, with hair and glasses.  LOL 

  9. Chris, I am proud of your candor here. As you know I have struggled with my own depression through the years, but I don’t think you know that my attempted suicide happened while I was attending UC Riverside. I thought escaping to the anonymity of school would be the answer for me, but it actually served to fuel my feelings of isolation and loneliness. I am enjoying reading your coming out saga. Mine was significantly less traumatic, if you can believe it. And I have to respond to your statement, “it is a little embarrassing to share. It seems so over-dramatic and is such a poor example of the person I’ve become.” I would say that, while it feels embarrassing to delve into such personal feelings on a public forum, you have demonstrated great courage and poise. Had it not been for those moments I wonder if the person you have become would not have been significantly changed.

  10. Thank you for continuing to share all these memories and thoughts.  Good for you.  I had always seen more of your Mom in you than your Dad, but this photo certainly shakes it up a bit!

  11. What an interesting story/memoir. You looked quite mature for a tenth grader! And I could not have imagined you almost settled down with a girlfriend! Now, you got me hooked for your next update!

  12. Wow! I never knew that you had considered suicide! To think that I lived under the same roof and never knew that. I’m sorry to hear that you did have those thoughts, but I’m proud of you to have realized you did (and do) have people who love you and need you in their lives and were able to over come those feelings to find out who those people were. I can’t imagine the struggle you were facing but I believe the struggle itself helped to form the person who you are today. I personally, am glad that you are here!Second, where did you find that picture? It was one that should have stayed on a negative and not digitalized!

  13. @oldpartner – Yes, that is something I’ve never shared before and I went back and forth over whether to include it here.  A friend who served as editor felt it was important to keep it in.As for the picture, there are plenty that I look back on and think, “Eeek!  What were we thinking, wearing that?”  That’s the problem with fashion.

  14. Chris…I am so sorry that you had to take such a dark journey…but look at the person that you became on the other side of that journey!!! Look at the wonderful, love filled life that you are living and how loving and supportive (as least it seems that way to me!! ) that your family has become. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.Ruth Ann

  15. It was also about the same time that I realized I might be gay. Instead, I turned to my high school christian fellowship counsellor (a teacher I admired and trusted) for help about the issue. I truly believed him that it might be a phase and was able to “put it aside” for a while. It was my faith that saved me of all the dark hours of pain and struggling. Even though being “gay” may not be right with Him, I never doubted that He loved me and in some queer way brought me closer to Him. It was in college that I had a crisis of faith that my world went tumbling down…Now you got me going, I think I will get Matt as my editor too once I got the story in written form! =PThanks Chris for being the light! We do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl, but instead put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Thanks for the illuminating story!

  16. Pingback: Coming Out – Chapter 3 | christao408

  17. Pingback: Coming Out – Chapter 1 | christao408

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