Originally Posted by dustinsugg
Hi, My Name is Dustin, I am on here in search of support. I am a 23 year old gay man living in Southeast missouri. I guess you could say I am partially out of the closet because many of my friends know, but my family does not. I am tired of living this secret life. Everyone always wants to know why I am so secretive about everything and why I am so irritable all the time and its because I feel like I cannot be my true self around them.
I went to Evangel College in Springfield -in the southwest corner of your state. Graduated in 1981. Taught and lived near Springfield for another two years before I moved back east to go to graduate school.
You are right. If I memory serves, your corner of the state is- politically and religiously- very
conservative. That would make being an out gay man a challenge. And the western corner isn't that much better!
Several things come to mind, perhaps the most important being that I would encourage you to think about coming out to your family only after you have a very supportive network of friends and connections. In the latter category, you might contact PFlag in your area and see what services they provide, if there are meetings in the area. As well, I would be in contact with any local organizations that might be of help to you. The critical thing is to reach out- as you are doing here. That makes things a great deal easier.
You know your family better than anyone, and if you feel that your father's family would not react well, then they probably won't, at least not in the short term. But you know what? People can surprise us. I think one has to approach the matter of coming out on a person by person basis.
You mention your desire in finding someone to love.
I've been in several relationships and can tell you this: it doesn't hurt to have had some counseling.
If you are working on yourself- talking care of your own issues- it makes one's relationships work a lot better. And I know it can sound trite, but the more you can love and accept yourself, the more others will respond in kind. And you know something? My perspective is that when we are taking care of our own business and enjoying life, that's when love finds us.
You also mention the desire to be whole.
How about the idea that you are whole already? That you are Ok just the way you are right now? Sure. I bet there are plenty of things you would like to improve on in your life, but the essential Dustin is precious and whole just the way he is.
That said, there is something to be aware of: internalized homophobia.
Internalized homophobia (or egodystonic homophobia) refers to homophobia as a prejudice carried by individuals against homosexual manifestations in themselves and others. It causes severe discomfort with or disapproval of one's own sexual orientation. Internalized homophobia is thus a form of cognitive dissonance; the individual cannot reconcile the conflicting conscious or unconscious sexual desires with values and tenets gained from society, religion or upbringing.
Such a situation may cause extreme repression of homosexual desires. In other cases, a conscious internal struggle may occur for some time, often pitting deeply held religious or social beliefs against strong sexual and emotional desires. This discordance often causes clinical depression, and the unusually high suicide rate among gay teenagers (up to 30 percent of non-heterosexual youth attempt suicide) has been attributed to this phenomenon.
This is why it's good to find a therpist to help one work out things.
I wasn't out when I was at Evangel College (an AoG school), and can remember how I felt then. It was awful. And looking back, I can see that I was dealing with feelings of anxiety and depression. It took me a while to deal with those feelings, even after I came out to my family. And their being religiously conservative didn't make thing go well- I have to say. Still, I am forever glad that I did. For me, it heralded the beginning of a whole new life.
Lastly, I would encourage you to takes things slowly. You don't have to hurry the process. That said, opportunity can come arrive in unexpected ways. And if you find that happening, I would seize the day.
I hope you will stick around that share your journey with us.