Graham, in his own words: “I consider my “coming out” somewhat unremarkable, which is pretty remarkable in and of itself.
So many other coming out stories are characterized with real risk and real stakes, and here I was surrounded by people — friends and family alike — who I knew would love me no matter what. No career risks (because I worked in advertising). No social risks, because I’d mostly had straight friends and knew I’d always be able to connect with that community with ease.
So I figured out for myself that I was gay at the relatively late age of 22 not because I was mega repressed, but because I finally felt good enough about my appearance to date ANYONE. I told my friends a year later. In fact, I told my closest guy friend at the time — a straight guy — when he was in a towel, which I thought was maybe bad timing. But all he did was walk over and make me pinkie-swear I wasn’t kidding, and then we had beers.
My best friend laughed an easy, relaxed laugh to put me at ease, and told me it was OK.
My mom said she was glad I didn’t have to be drunk to tell her.
My brother asked why I didn’t introduce my boyfriend first as “just a good friend.”
My dad found out that my boyfriend-at-the-time dabbled in acoustic guitar and joked, “Good for you. Then he’s got good hands.”
No rejection. No tears. My only enemy was my own comfort level and persistent anxiety. Again, boring — almost spoiled — by comparison to some ostracized, struggling contemporaries, but again, a good sign. If a guy with friends and family from Ohio can come out drama-free, maybe we’re moving in the right direction.
I’ve gotten shit for being a self-loathing gay, because I am vocal in my belief that no gay man should let their sexual identity be their primary personality trait. Some people let their sexuality decide their neighborhood, their nightlife, their behaviors, their sense of humor. They, simply, follow what they see on TV and take the path of least resistance. They shun the straight world actively, and it’s too big a world to hide from. I say this not to be inflammatory, because I am willing to compromise pieces of that argument in different circumstances, but I bring it up as precursor to this: I will always be more of a nerd than I am a gay.
My nerdy tattoos represent my family, but also give cues to Alias, James Bond and the X-Men. One idea that I love analyzing is a popular critical theory on why franchises like the X-Men and Star Trek appeal to gay kids or socially awkward kids. The X-Men is a group from all over the world, all with something about them the world doesn’t understand. Mutants who discover their powers at puberty. Some of them, like Jean Grey. can look normal but know they’re different in wonderful yet terrifying ways. Some others like Nightcrawler can’t hide it (because he’s blue and has a tail and yellow eyes) and think they’re mistakes of God. But in the X-Men, they all fit in. Everyone has a place. Everyone’s curse becomes a gift and they fight for something bigger than themselves; they don’t fight to belong, but they do fight to co-exist.
I’ve had certain favorite comic book characters at different times, but I identify with the (often wildly hated) X-Men leader Cyclops because he was representative of the need for control — self control and of the world around him. Plus, how fucking cool is his visor? Anyway, I recently had an old friend (and notably someone who never reads comics) said he gets why I picked Cyclops as my favorite X-Man while another gay friend of ours liked the mutant separatist Magneto. He said that Magneto surrounded himself with mutants and didn’t want to integrate with the larger world; so this other friend, as evidence of this analogy, surrounded himself with gay men and the gay world to feel like part of something better than everything else. Meanwhile, I picked Cyclops because I made the conscious effort to connect with the parts of the world less likely to accept me — hence all my straight friends and my love of things that get considered straight because they’re not markedly gay.
I’m not saying it’s an exact analogy. I’m not saying I’ve made any difference at all in bridging the gay and straight world because I’m not political and I don’t even vote. But I’m not saying there’s nothing to it either. And if there’s anything at all true about his analogy, I’d be totally cool with that.”