The first person I told that I was gay was my best friend Tim.
He knew. Tim was gay too.
I was a pretty obviously gay kid. I once had a family friend tell me that she knew that I was gay when I was four. I was shocked when I told my parents about my being gay that they didn't think I was. Ignorance and blindness are bliss, I guess.
I told Tim a few days before my 16th birthday. I don't remember the conversation, but I do remember the date. Oct 11, 1992. What I didn't know is that Oct 11 was National Coming Out Day.
After that day, I came out to more and more people. To my classmates. To my teachers, one of whom never told me that she was a lesbian (at least not until I graduated) but said and did things that made me feel like I could talk to her. I always appreciated that from her.
I remember telling one girl in my class, and she said to me, "I can't believe you admit it."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean that it's not easy to admit being gay," she said. It was the early 1990s. I was living in rural Nova Scotia. The guys I grew up with played hockey and drank. Our parents worked in fishing or logging. The village I grew up in is home to North America's largest wooden church -- not exactly a beacon of openness around sexual variations. My friend applauded me for coming out. When I told the rest of my classmates, they soon began to rally around me if and when anybody ever said anything mean about me.
I remember being at a party a year or so later, when the brother of one of my friends said something derogatory about me. My friend bolted upright and berated her brother in front of everyone at this party. She didn't talk to him for a couple days. I was moved. I hadn't expected anyone to defend me, just for being open and honest about who I was.
Coming out made me stronger. It made me realize that honesty to one's self is more important than anything else. I had denied being gay as long as I had known what it was. But I couldn't deny myself.
So thank you to the people who listened. Thank you to the people who defended me. Thank you to the people who helped me forge a path to be where I am now. Out and proud.