Letter to my Future Self - The Throwbacks
May 1, 2013
To my future self,
I wanted to write you a letter. I wanted you to remember me. I just watched a video of a 20 year old guy telling his “coming out” and “pre coming out” stories. I was realizing that you don’t have something like this. I wanted to create this list of memories, feelings and fears that you experienced in the first twenty years of your life. I hope that when you are reading this, you appreciate it, and don’t think that I’m stupid for doing this. But just know that this is what I needed to do at the time, and I need to get this out.
Also, you need to remember that at this point, I don’t care about spelling and grammar and I hate proofreading, so if you come across spelling issues or anything, just remember that’s me.
People always ask me “when I knew.” They always want to know how long I was keeping a secret. The truth is that I don’t know. An NBA player just came out within the past week, and he compared it to knowing the sky was blue, but always telling yourself that it was red. I identify with that statement strongly. I never felt like I realized it. I always knew I was attracted to men but that didn’t mean that I knew I was gay.
I always* knew I was different. There was never a time in my entire childhood that I felt like any of the other boys. Ever. I can’t remember a time in which I felt like I fit in on any sports team or anything of the sort. I don’t have any specific memories until junior high. Once I hit 6th grade, I knew, for a complete fact, that I was all the way different from any guy who was interested in girls.
ALL my friends were girls. I NEVER hung out with guys ever. I wasn’t like them, even kind of. I completely got along, and LOVED girls so much. Which is why I didn’t understand people calling me gay. How does enjoying the presence of girls make someone gay. But I wasn’t about to change that.
I remember in 8th grade, someone had a party. I went. They wanted to play spin the bottle and I was not down. I was not. I remember fearing so strongly that we would actually play. I didn’t really have any idea why, I guess. What I really remember about that night was that all the girls at the party came to this huge realization that every* guy at the party was wearing their pants a certain way. They all were wearing baggy jeans with basketball shorts underneath. I don’t care what you say, every single guy besides me was wearing their pants that way. But I wasn’t about to change that.
I remember I had like, a few girlfriends in junior high. Wasn’t into that. I just felt like I wasn’t ready. Everyone said that since I had a higher voice that I was gay. Or that I had a beautiful bowl cut with highlights. That’s why I was gay.
I think, in general, they just wanted to know. Very rarely was I bullied about it or attacked about it. I most of the time felt like people were just curious. In general. There were definitely people who were not that way.
I remember in 8th grade, I had a thought about “attractive high school guys.” I don’t remember the exact thought but I remember. Once I was in high school, it escalated quickly. I remember really feeling different. So incredibly different. Not worse, just different. I want you to know that the reason I wasn’t struggling with it was because I did not even kind of know what all of this meant. I knew that I liked guys. I did not know that I was gay. Don’t know how to explain that any more clear.
I do remember feeling like it was wrong. Not morally or socially or anything like that A better word would be “broken.” I thought that I wasn’t working correctly. I didn’t think that I made any sense. I didn’t know.
I remember having a lot of thoughts about a lot of guys. Often. I completely thought it was a temporary thing and that it would fade away and that I would wake up straight some morning. And my god, did I want that to happen. I never had sex dreams about girls, ever.
There was one night where I had a dream about me, and a girl, in Hawaii, getting married. Everyone was there. Everyone was happy. I was happy. I remember, in the dream, wanting* to kiss the girl. and I woke up and I thought I broke the fever. I thought I was fixed. I was really really proud of myself and I had a great day that day. And once I realized that this was not the case, I was, once again, disappointed in myself.
I remember a lot of things in high school just being off. However, I was who I was in high school, and I never compromised anything. Don’t get me wrong, I was fully gay in high school, I just didn’t have the title. I never thought being gay was a good thing to be. I was completely all for it for other people, and I wasn’t against it even kind of, but I DID NOT want to be gay. There was one kid in high school, and I felt like he was the definition of gay, and I wasn’t like him, so I wasn’t gay. Not the case. I, like so many other people, gave gay people all these traits and pre-judged them and thought I knew everything about what was and what wasn’t. I didn’t know I was gay. I knew that I loved to make costumes, I knew that I loved all the colors, I knew that going to the Britney Spears concert was the most exciting thing I could possibly do, and I knew that I did not want to kiss girls. I did not know that I was gay.
I can’t define when I knew. There was one point where I decided I wanted to come to San Francisco State University because it would be a “good place to come out.” I don’t know how developed that idea was, but I remember it was there. And once I came to SF, I really did have a hard time.
For the first time, it wasn’t a big deal- To other people. It was still a big deal to me. At this point I think that I confidently believed that I was a straight guy who everyone thought was gay. I remember feeling like the gay people I had met were not people that I could relate to, but I might have been making that up. There was one person that I met almost right away, and he was out. Just fully out. No fuss, he was a gay guy. I do remember having some kind of admiration for that. And also confusion. I didn’t understand how someone could be out like that. I was just really impressed. I must have known at least a little bit at that point.
I remember there were just a lot of times my freshman year where people asked me if I was gay, I would say that I’m not, and I would feel attacked and bullied and whatever. But it was just people asking, most of the time.
I think I can say that somewhere in my freshman year, that is when I knew. I know this because I remember having the thought “I’m gay, but I’m never coming out.” It was going to be the biggest secret anyone ever kept their whole life.
I felt scared of being in San Francisco. After my freshman year at SFSU, I got my job at the Sanitary district. This is just a total man job, to me. I drove a truck, worked with the manliest of men, and I just took it upon myself to just make it the manliest summer. I listened to rugged country music, I drove my truck around town, and I completely changed everything about my attitude, internally, about everything. I changed. I think I was in complete denial and everything that goes along with that.
However, that summer, just like every summer, my family went to Mike’s lake, and this is where I made the decision to come out. Maybe on the 3rd or 4th night there, I was sleeping and I had a VIVID dream. If god existed for 20 minutes, this is what he did.
I had an extremely clear dream that some people that I knew came up to me as I was going somewhere, and they stopped me. They stopped me and told me, “we know, and it’s okay.” And they proceeded to take me to everyone I loved and we told them and they loved me and It was honestly the most beautiful dream. I knew I had to do it. I was going to tell my friends.
I got back from that vacation, and I just wasn’t ready. However, I knew that I wanted to do it before the new semester started, because I was starting my new job as an RA, and these were going to be my friends, and I wanted them to know right away.
I always used to use excuses such as “no woman is good enough for me” or “I’m saving myself for Miley Cyrus” or “I just have really high standards.” I hated whenever I used these excuses. I knew they were unnecessary but for whatever reason, I still said these things.
I went to Chipotle on one of the first nights or the new job with four of my new co-workers, and I said that “I would only marry a woman who wears watches.” and one of the people who I was with noticed that I said that and decided he was going to challenge that.
Later that night, three of us were hanging around in his room. We were talking a lot, but by the time it was two or three in the morning, the subject changed to my sexual orientation. We talked about weather or not I actually am interested in Miley Cyrus like that, we talked about everything that didn’t match up with all my lies. After maybe an hour of this, I felt like it was going to happen. I excused myself to go to the bathroom. I had to escape. It was pretty obvious that I was gay at this point, and we all knew it.
When I got back from the bathroom, the subject had changed and I was relieved. But before long, I decided I just had to spit it out. People were talking and I was as nervous as I ever have been, or every will be. I’m nervous right now just writing about it. People were talking and I just had to say it. So I stopped them. I said, “Guys…”
and they said, “what.”
I said the following: “I…………….
I said it. My face was pale as it has ever been. I felt weak and I should have just fainted. I couldn’t have looked well. All of the sudden, I didn’t have the power anymore. My whole reputation. My whole life. Was in the hands of these two people that I had known for three days. I knew that I didn’t trust them. I wouldn’t have trusted anyone.
Once I said it it was late. We talked about it for a while. Mostly about how they were the actual first people that I had ever told. Ever. Once we were all going back to our rooms, one of my friends, who is now the best friend that I could every asked for, said, “I just want to make sure Ben’s okay.” That felt really nice.
After that, I decided that if two people were going to know, everyone is going to know. I told everyone. At least it felt like that. I felt like after 3 days, I was an OUT guy. I was in total denial that that meant anything, but whatever. People knew. And I enjoyed that.
I told two of my best friends from home maybe a month later, and they were both incredibly proud/supportive. And I will always love them for that.
I needed to tell my family. One of my friends from home encouraged me to write a letter to both of my parents and send it in the mail. I wanted to do it in a Facebook message, and I still wish that I had done that. Once my parents got the letter, they were both really supportive. I remember being surprised that my dad was so supportive, but looking back, that was nonsense because he has always been completely supportive and he has always been an incredible dad.
I told my mom that there were some people in the family that I was deathly afraid of telling, and at the top of the list was my brother, Joel. There were many times in my childhood where Joel made it seem like he hated gay people. A lot. I was afraid to tell him, but at this point I had the following opinion: “I don’t care what he thinks, so does that mean that I tell him, and just ignore what he says, or just never tell him because it doesn’t matter what he says.” I decided to tell him, and my mom encouraged my to make him the first person I told. He never had much of a reaction.
I understand the “This doesn’t change anything, therefore I’m not going to react” theory, but that’s just not what I needed, and it wasn’t my style. I have had a whole lot of trouble retaining any kind of respect for him in the past two years because of anything and everything he has said to me personally or through his Facebook statuses. We don’t get along at this point of my life. And I don’t feel like there is anyone in my family who is willing to understand that.
However: once I told him, I had nothing to hold back. I sent out a mass Facebook message to all my friends that I wanted to tell. I sent that message and then I went to bed. The next morning was more magical than any childhood Christmas I had ever experienced.
EVERYONE was in full support and excitement. The entire day I was getting the most supportive messages from everyone I knew. It was, and will go down in history as, the most amazing day of the first 19 years of my life. The date was November 10, 2011.
My Mom helped me out a lot by telling most of my family members, and It seemed like to most of them, it wasn’t much of a big deal. I do, however come from a family with some people who totally don’t agree/get it with homosexuality. By one family member, I was told that I didn’t need to get married, that everyone sins so it’s okay, and that they were going to be keeping this a secret. This hurt.
This was also someone who had, in the past, given me the impression that they hated gay people, and really came through on their word with this one. I don’t think I have actually cried as much as I cried that night. Someone who had been there my whole life suddenly wasn’t, and that was scary. We now have a very fake relationship, and it would take a tremendous lifestyle change by one of us to fix that. And I’m not changing who I am, so that’s whatever.
After that, I felt like I was completely out. Everyone who needed to know knew, and I gave them all permission to spread the word. I feel like that is my whole coming out story, however I don’t feel like I will ever be done coming out. I hope you found this letter when you needed it. I love the idea of you so much, and I want you to love the memory of me too.
Good luck with whatever you’re working on.
Benjamin J. Hawes
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