"This made my day," my husband wrote, forwarding me a link to a story by Ned Martel that appeared at the Washington Post last week.
Martel's essay was titled, rather unimaginatively, "Thanksgiving is a Good Holiday to Come Out as Gay or Lesbian." The first paragraph served as a précis for his argument:
"Word to the wise: Thanksgiving is the proper holiday to tell your family that you're a homosexual," Marten wrote. "It's arguably secular, so you're confronting tradition, not faith. Even though National Coming Out Day is in October, this is the day when gays and lesbians, newly announced or otherwise, are really driving it all home."
Reading Martel's essay made my day, as well, and brought me back -- as it did my husband -- to the Thanksgiving, 28 years ago, when things started in earnest for us.
Not that we were a couple as yet. Neither of us had yet worked out that we were gay, let alone that we might... ought to... indeed, would... end up together. But it was over that long weekend that certain things clicked into place.
For me, it was a realization of the reason why I didn't have girlfriends. I had stayed on campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. One afternoon, busying myself with random tasks and listening to music, a thought struck me out of the blue. There was this guy I had met a couple of months previously, at fencing practice. We had quickly become good friends. But my feelings for him went beyond friendship; this was nothing new, because I had a tendency to get very attached to my male friends. This, however, was something different, something deeper, something charged with some sort of meaning, if only I could discern it...
Then, like the proverbial light bulb going off over my head, it came to me: I was falling in love with him. That, taken together with my close friendships with other guys and my lack of success... or, let's be honest, lack of interest... in girls meant only one thing.
"Am I gay?" I asked myself. The question shocked me. I sat still for maybe 30 seconds, reviewing the suddenly-cohesive chain of evidence. It all made sense. "I'm gay," I realized.
Then, with a shrug - "Okay." If I was gay, then I was gay. There was no point in trying to deny it or change it. This was who I was, and native intelligence told me that putting myself through shame, sorrow, and misery in trying not to be gay was never going to lead to a happy result. Moreover, it would be unfair to any young woman with whom I might try to prove my nonexistent heterosexuality.
But this left me with a new problem: What about my feelings for my new friend? What if he didn't feel the same way?
When my new friend got back from his visit home, he joined me at the table in the dining hall where I had sat down with friends over lunch. "Well," he said, "my twin brother came out during the Thanksgiving dinner."
His identical twin brother.
I smiled quietly to myself.
This didn't change things overnight; we were both still shy, and clueless, and it took another six months to seal the deal. It had to be one of the longest mating dances in modern human history. But it was that occasion, that Thanksgiving, that the ducks and the dominoes all lined up; birds sang for us, too, and bees gathered their pollen for our honey.
Twenty-eight years later, with a carved turkey on the table and all the trimmings, too, we regaled our dinner guest -- a single friend, a gay guy curious to hear how we'd met -- with our holiday tale. We gave thanks once again that we had followed the truth of our own natures and found one another.
So, all y'all still struggling with the how and the when and the whether of coming out, you're not alone. You never have been. It's a big step, but it's the single most crucial step you'll take toward the rest of your life. It's the first step on your proper journey, the journey you're here to complete.
Didn't come out over turkey and stuffing? No worries. It's not a deadline. And Christmas is right around the corner, as this essay about "Coming Out by Christmas Card," written by Maureen Salamon and published recently in the New York Times, notes.