Michael, in his own words: “To me, being gay doesn’t mean anything different than being straight. There are the obvious things, of course, like who I’m staring at in the gym versus who the guy I’m staring at is staring at, but being “out” is an entirely different thing. It’s gratifying in a way that I can scarcely find words to describe. It’s like when you envision your future self, you project a great future that often times seems light years away. Then one day, you find that some part of your dreams has been realized. Having come out recently, I feel that I can accomplish my other, more outward goals and become the future self that I envisioned now that I have an internal foundation that is absolutely fundamental to my adult development—literally a launching pad.
As far as challenges go, I’ve been terribly lucky. I have immensely supportive family and friends that I can count on, and I am very fortunate to have been born after a generation of great civil rights progress, although we are perhaps in the middle of our biggest victories to date. The real challenge for me has been growing into myself and identifying what I want, or more importantly, figuring out what I don’t want. Since I moved to New York in late 2011, I have definitely been the kid in the homo candy shop. It’s been absolutely fantastic but sometimes the things you think will make you happy end up having the opposite effect. Regardless, I advocate this trial-and-error.
Being gay in New York is perfect and horrible. On one hand, there is relatively no judgment from the public, an acceptance I’ve been starving for since I was young. Also, there are so many men with similar stories to my own, and it seems like they’re everywhere; it’s easy to find a community here. But that’s also the biggest issue when it comes to relationships: there are so many options to choose from for everything—food, clothes, significant others—, investing in any one thing is difficult. Relationships are easily strained.
I still consider myself lucky though. Growing up in Kansas, I really did think that the “phase” I was going through would pass, that I would straighten out and be just like everyone else. When I realized finally that it wasn’t a phase, I never really beat myself up about it. To me, it was matter-of-fact, and I am very rational. Even though those days were only two years ago, it feels like ages. Now, things are good. I’m good. I can look forward to what’s ahead, and only because I’ve experienced what’s behind.”