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.