Far Away from Corn and Football a coming out story

by Jeffry Kahle

In the spirit of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Awareness Days the editors
thought it appropriate that I, one of the freshman members of the MIT
queer community and GaMIT, tell my coming out story. If told in its
gross entirety, it might require an additional insert for the Thistle.
My story, though, is a far cry from the soap-opera saga that might
warrant those pages, or my grabbing up an agent to break the flood of
publishing and film offers that might ensue from this article, so this
small space will suit me just fine. Please don't think that I'm
degrading what will follow because the events detailed in this article
represent to me the opening of a world of opportunities and aspects of
my life that I once believed closed to me.
	I come from Lincoln, Nebraska, and for those unfamiliar with
the state, two words suffice to describe it: corn and football. I
shall allow you to draw your own conclusions. I came out to myself
before my senior year of high school in some sudden realizations about
who I was and what I wanted, largely facilitated not by my hometown
environment (surprise, surprise), but through cyberspace. I figured
out for myself that I liked men, and I was so thrilled and delighted
with it that throughout the school year I successively came out to
greater numbers of friends and family (despite what MCI might say,
they didn't have anything to do with it). Many of those outings were
more shocking to me than to the party receiving the news, especially
when they told me they had known far longer about my homosexuality
than I seemed to have known myself. In some respects I suppose I
shouldn't have been surprised, for all the signs were present: I had
an armada of female friends, none of whom I had expressed any interest
in whatsoever. And perhaps I showed too much interest in the talk show
episodes that featured male strippers. One of the understanding
females who had already figured it out was, coincidentally, my mother.
All I'll say about that wonderful woman and best friend is that when
we shop together, we cruise together.
	My father on the other hand... Shall I repeat? Corn and
football. It came to pass that my paternal unit found out about my
homosexuality on New Year's Eve when my then-long-distance boyfriend
was in town visiting me. Both of us were staying with my accepting
grandparents (my father's parents no less) without my father having
any knowledge that there was an additional male guest staying there or
that this guest also happened to be my boyfriend. My father discovered
everything and wished to inform me I was not gay, as any good father
would have done. Familial war ensued. I believe that some baffled
researchers have yet to be informed of the true cause of several
cosmic disturbances that day.
	I want to give some credit to my father though. The worst of
my fears, total rejection, were never realized. Though I must
constantly remind him that my friend or special friend is my boyfriend
and has a name, I'm still proud of him. Though I receive utter silence
as I explain some GaMIT function I'm involved in and am excited about,
I know he's doing his best.
	Not everything was quite as rosy as this may make it seem.
Some moments were very tense during that year with bouts of extreme
depression, sickness, chronic fatigue, and prescription drugs to
combat those problems and get me through school. There was an intense
amount of yelling, screaming, and fighting on everyone's part, coupled
with a lot of misunderstanding and anger that had built itself up over
several years.
	Rather than follow the Pet Shop Boys advice to Go West, I went
East to Boston; but I promised myself that I would live as I saw
befitted me as a human being, and stay out of the closet I had huddled
in far too long. Following that ideal, I decided a bit of subtle
advertisement could skillfully be used to save me some work and bring
the queer community to me. I had seen the signs that read, "We're
Here. We're Queer. Welcome to our campus." So, where was everyone? In
a moment of personal courage I wore a Don't Panic t-shirt to Rush MOYA
activities. After the thunderous stampede of upperclassmen upon us
freshmen and the chaotic selection of people for Thursday Night
Dinners, I believe my message got across. Some of you readers may
remember that day and also that mysterious person you termed the
boyfriend guy. I seemed to have successfully attracted the attention
of the queer contingent to the Dinners and they put up a valiant
attempt to get my attention, even resorting to the discreet
manifestation of a dyke and a drag queen running around the lawn in my
vicinity with a five foot long rainbow flag yelling "Eat with the
Queers!!!."
	Many less flamboyant introductions have been made since, and
how rapidly I've become a part of the community here has been a very
pleasant surprise-equally as my election to the position of Treasurer
of GaMIT. I've kept the promise to myself as best as I could and I now
understand the joy that one can have by being out: being true to
myself by being true about myself.  


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