Being in college most conversations consist of three major questions. “What is your name?” “What is your major?” and of course “Are you too drunk to function in bed?” But if you are a member of the queer community there is a fourth question that is bound to come up: How/when did you come out (if you have)?
With very few exceptions this question is asked because either the person wants to tell their own story to you (meaning they are boring) or they want to see you get upset and cry when you tell it (meaning they are evil) at the very least 90 percent of gay men fall under one of these two categories. Luckily I am both boring and evil so I have no qualms with regaling mine to you.[craig]
When most people come out they do so in a modest way. They select the friends or family that they believe will be most likely to accept them and slowly branch out toward the less open-minded in their lives. This helps them build a support group so that they don’t have to go through weeks or years of humiliation being a social pariah.
I did not come out like that. No, I came out with a big flaming bang of “I’m here I’m queer and now you are going to make my life miserable aren’t you?” I came out, or was outed, in the local newspaper. Mind you, I did not grow up in San Francisco or Fire Island. I grew up in a little town called Hillsdale two counties south of here. You will know you have reached Hillsdale when you start seeing an even ratio between American and Confederate flags with a sign proclaiming “Osama Bin Kerry” made out of plywood standing nearby. Needless to say this is not the place where to print that you like boys.
Now I did not place an ad in the paper, I didn’t become that desperate until I was seventeen. It, my overpowering homosexuality, was mentioned in an article written about Homophobia Awareness Day. HAD (we were dreadful at acronyms) was a very special day put on by a group of students in my high school, although we were not allowed to be affiliated with it. The group was aimed at ending bigotry of every sort, but being that we were all closeted homosexuals, we had a tendency to focus on what we knew. Also, being attention-starved gays, we decided to get the media involved.
HAD was a major success. We had about fifteen people show up from as far away as Adrian! My friends and I all paraded to the podium to explain the desperate situation for students who were, wrongly we claimed, thought to be homosexual. We ranted about signs reading “dicks are for chicks” posted on lockers or about being shoved into lockers. Then we moved on to explain how our complaints (that I was threatened to be hung by the goal-post if seen wearing another gay rights pin) fell on deaf ears. The reporter, an intern from California, dutifully wrote it all down.
The next day we all felt really proud of ourselves. We thought that perhaps we had started to form a cohesive group that could help us enlighten the citizens of Hillsdale to the beauty of acceptance. Some other people ven heard about it and showed interest in joining our cause. We thought progress had been made. We were wrong. We were wrong because the article didn’t arrive onto doorsteps until 3 p.m.
It was this day ,after everyone read the article, that officially became the worst day of my life. None of us knew exactly what was going to be in the article, and none of us expected to be clearly quoted stating that, “I was called a faggot and shoved into my locker.” Upon reading that statement my fellow academics took it upon themselves to politely inform us just how much they hated the fact that I was not only a homosexual, but was willing to talk about it. Copies of the article were strewn about the school, just in case somebody’s parents hadn’t forced them to read it the night before proclaiming “Craig is gay! But he was on your little league team!” I was called a liar by many of the same people who would refer to things being “gay” then look at me and giggle. Students heckled me in Trigonometry and the teacher continued to lecture through the spit-wads. Friends of mine experienced harassment in the same thread from teachers calling them liars during class or by students chanting “dyke” in the lunch-room.
This is not the support group one wishes for when coming out of the closet.
By the time the day ended only a handful of people would look or speak to me without berating me for my “lies.” Lies not just about what took place in the school, but for what I was. The administration was furious and within a week the school newspaper wrote an editorial claiming that the Hillsdale Daily News was wrong in publishing the article. Even our supporters distanced themselves out of fear that they may be considered “a little on the funny side,” as many say in Hillsdale.
When I got home I was scared for my life. I hadn’t any idea how my mother would react. I had already asked someone, having watched one too many made-for-television movies, if I could stay with them when I would be kicked out. She called me into the kitchen and it took all of my power not to burst into tears for the third time that day. But all she asked me was if I was safe, and that she was worried that somebody might actually try to hurt me. I said no, that I thought they were just being stupid Hillsdale students. She made me promise that if I ever felt in danger that I would tell her, and I left to go to my room and listen to music and pray that I would wake up the next morning in Paris.
Later in the week my step-mother asked me about it. I told her that no, I wasn’t a homosexual. And she said “oh thank God, your father will be so relieved. He was really worried about what he would tell people if you were.” It was at that moment that I decided who mattered to me. And granted it was only five people, yes, but at least I didn’t have to pretend to be nice any longer.
My little group did not dissipate after this incident. We continued to do little things to upset people and show them how much hate they were filled with.
One student even had the enlightenment to say in meek, genuine Hillsdale fashion, “I, um, don’t get you and all, but I think it’s really wrong that they’d string you up on a goal post like that…”
And so, it was worth it.

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