There’s an image to which I can’t help but return. It’s one I’ve written about at least twice in the past year and it continues to be something I often contemplate. It’s an image of ruins, and I’m standing in the midst of them. Even so, to say that the ruins represent my life would be a gross exaggeration and wholly inaccurate. My life is demonstrably not in ruins. Quite the contrary, in fact: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and that’s not an exaggeration. In the time that has passed since I came to this country, I’ve built a life for myself according to specifications and desires all my own and, in some ways, it feels like I’ve finally started living. The picture of ruins that often comes to mind represents life before February 25, 2013, the day when my plane first set down in the Republic of Korea, one year ago this week. When I got on the plane in Dallas, I didn’t leave behind a life I ever hope to resume and that sentiment only strengthens with time.
I had my first crush when I was eight years old. And, by “first crush,” I mean my “first gay crush.” I suppose one could say that there had been others. I still remember the first day of pre-Kindergarten when I marched right up to the prettiest little girl in class and gave her a huge kiss, right on the lips. I’d most likely seen a movie recently–probably one of those romantic films from the 50s and 60s my mother liked to watch where kissing scenes stood in for bedroom scenes–and had felt it would be cool (in the way that four-year-olds do) to emulate what I’d seen. It is, therefore, entirely accurate for me to say I kissed a girl and I did, in a sense, like it. The teacher had seen the impending-PDA coming seconds before it happened and, though she hastily yelled for us to stop, she was too late–llips had locked. I had a rebellious streak even when I was four and took great pleasure in her scolding me afterward but having no ability to change what had happened: I’d won, and nana nana boo boo.
Before I get to the point, I spent greater than half my life up to this point more or less hiding and simultaneously wrestling with a very major component of what makes me who I am. It’s neither the single biggest nor the foremost component, true, but to pretend it’s not firmly in the top ten at least would, in my view, be to continue being dishonest, both to myself and to the people I love. With that in mind, my frequent discussion of the topic of late is hopefully a bit more understandable. Also, compared to the challenges one faces after the fact, coming out is the easy part. Anyone can publish an online letter or use social media to announce their previously hidden sexuality, but the real question for those who do is, “Are you prepared to handle what comes next?” It’s important to answer that question honestly, otherwise a man might very quickly find himself in a situation he’s not quite ready to tackle.