My coming out story is a very Pittsburgh story. I had all of my firsts here:
My first kiss (he had bad breath), the first time I asked a boy to dance (Rockwell’s “Somebody is watching me” of all things), and my first sexual encounter (boom chicka wah wah).
In an ironic twist, my birthday is October 11, National Coming Out Day, but I never made a big, official announcement. I didn’t come out all at once, but in drips like Keurig into your coffee cup.
When I came out to my mom, she cried and said, “Why do you want to be with a man? Men are assholes.” She had a very salient point. That quote reverberates in my head often.
My friend John asked a bunch of questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. Sexual questions. At seventeen, I didn’t know how to answer most of them. We didn’t have Wikipedia or Urban Dictionary then.
I was able to answer his final question. We sat together in his big, blue pickup truck and he asked, “Are you attracted to me?” I was not. Even though he was straight, I hurt his feelings.
When I told my friend Sandy, she said, “Maybe if I find you the right woman.” I turned to her and replied, “Maybe if I find YOU the right woman.” We never had that conversation again.
When I was working for Verizon, my co-worker Betty came up to me and said, “It’s none of my business, but are you gay?” I turned to her said, “You’re right. It is none of your business, but yes, I am.” I had left a few clues. I had just returned from a vacation in San Francisco. The year before, I went to Key West. This case did not require Sherlock Holmes.
I was one of those people who never made a fuss about it, but I never hid it either. Now and then, someone would ask, “Do you have a girlfriend?” Since I didn’t have a boyfriend, I just said, “No.” As I got older, I got bolder. I’d laugh and say, “That’s not gonna happen,” or “Nope. I’m not looking for one either.” They had to fill in the blanks themselves like a Sudoku puzzle.
Pittsburgh is growing and changing in exciting ways, but it can be very provincial. While gay marriage is legal in all fifty states, it still raises some eyebrows here.
My friend Harry loves the look on people’s faces when he introduces them to his husband Brian. I would enjoy doing that to strangers. When I meet Mr. Right, I would like to honeymoon at the Elk’s Lodge on Banjo Night just get some arched eyebrows.
Though I moved out of the Pittsburgh twice, I boomeranged back. I’m glad to be here. I’m also very excited that Pittsburgh has another LGBTQ magazine. It seems like a good time and place to come out loud and proud. Maybe we can raise some eyebrows together.
Editor’s note: Happy Birthday, Michael!