The Next Time I Come Out
By Kyle Getz
The next time I come out will be to a straight male coworker. He won’t know I’m gay because I cross my arms and I wear a frown instead of a cardigan and my eyes don’t glimmer like glitter. He’ll try to make small talk about the Mariners game tonight to fill the awkward silence. Instead of telling him that I think sports are boring except for baseball pants and soccer guy faces and male gymnast bodies, I’ll just say that I’m not watching the game tonight. He'll squint his eyes and try to figure out if I'm sick or just forgetful. I’ll feel guilty for closing myself off, so the next day, when he asks what my favorite beer is, I'll try to open up a little by saying, “I only drink rosé.” He won't get it. Finally, we’ll be standing by the microwave waiting for the leftover chicken his girlfriend made him to heat up, and I’ll say, “my ex-boyfriend used to make me dinner but we broke up but he’s still a guy because I’m gay and I date guys.” He’ll say, “oookay,” and there’s still a full minute left on the clock, which is a long time to stand in silence but we do because even though I’ve been doing this for ten years, I still haven’t figured out the right way to come out.
The next time I come out will be to my friend’s friend Amber. (We’re going out later, so now my eyes do glimmer like glitter, partly because I’ve been drinking a lot of rosé and partly because I’m wearing glitter.) I’ll be introduced as “Kyle, and he’s gay” and that will be my name for the rest of the night. Amber will be so! super! excited! and say, “O. M. FUCKING G., I’ve always wanted a gay best friend” in the same way that some kids say, “mommy, I want a puppy.” She’ll ask if I’ve been watching RuPal’s Drag Race and I’ll realize she wasn’t actually asking because she’ll move right on to telling me her complex opinions about Sasha Couture before I get the chance to explain that I haven’t really seen the new season yet, or any of RuPaul’s Drag Race actually. She’ll tell me that she talks about it all the time with her coworker Marcos who I should totally meet because she can’t tell if he’s gay because there’s the RuPaul thing, but then again he’s from Alabama and he goes to church so who knows. Before I can respond, Amber will yell "I don't give a fuck tongith!" and we’ll drink and we’ll dance and we’ll exchange numbers at her insistence. Later that night, she’ll text me saying, “uuuugh, why can’t you just be straight?” Amber’s level of excitement about my gayness seems to be inversely correlated with her level of intoxication.
The next time I come out will be to my new boss. I’ll take a deep breath and tell her I’m thinking of joining the LGBT employee resource group, and she’ll say, “I have a husband but I’m bi,” and that will be the end of that. I’ll tell my parents I had a great day at work but I won’t explain why.
The next time I come out will be to a homeless guy on the bus. I’ll think he’s mumbling to himself at first, but then I’ll realize he’s mumbling to me, “hey, are you gay?” and I’ll pretend like I can’t hear him over the Britney that’s playing in my ear. He’ll ask again, “hey, are you gay?” loud enough that other people on the bus look over at me. The next song will come on and tell me that I’m stronger than yesterday, which will inspire enough confidence that I’ll take one headphone off and say, “yes I am” in the least timid way I know how, which is still pretty timid. Then, the homeless guy will start to yell, “HE’S GAY, I KNEW HE WAS GAY. YUP, HE’S GAY. HE’S SO GAY.” which will remind me that information is no longer mine when I turn it over to someone else.
The next time I come out will be to my dog because I’ll realize that he may not be old enough to understand what all those things he’s seen me do in bed mean. One day while we’re at the park, I’ll lean down and explain it to him, and he’ll jump up and lick my face and then run and find a stick to put in his mouth (like father, like son). Now, when I see him, I smile even more because deep down, I know he’s happy I told him.
The next time I come out, I won’t have any say in it. I’ll be visiting my hometown in the suburbs doing the only thing there is to do which is hanging out at Walmart. I’ll run into an old “friend,” in quotes because he made my life miserable in high school by starting a rumor that I was a faggot, a fact that he will conveniently forget when he delivers his overly familiar, “oh heyyy Kyle,” and introduces me to his mom, who he forgets I’ve already met because he and I used to have sleepovers in junior high. We'll summarize the last twelve years of our lives in twelve seconds and then pretend we have important things to do, which is obviously a lie since we're both in the candy aisle at Walmart. “So nice to see you!" he’ll say as he's walking away. I'll overhear him lean to his mom and mutter, "no one’s surprised he’s a dick sucker." It’s funny because he didn’t seem to mind that I was a dick sucker when I sucked his dick during our sleepovers. Maybe he forgot about that, too.
The next time I come out, I’ll be talking to my parents’ best friends, a married couple who used to live down the street. They’ll ask “how’s Seattle” and “how’s your dog” and “how was that burrito you made for dinner the other night” because apparently my parents give them all my life updates, including mundane burrito updates. I’ll mention the LGBT organization I’m thinking of getting involved in, and they’ll ask me what LGBT means. With each word I say, their eyes get wider and wider, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender,” and that’s when I’ll realize my parents never told them I’m gay, so it’s no wonder they had to fill the void with stories about burrito dinners. Their wide eyes and raised brows will quickly retract, a little squintier than before to overcompensate. They’ll say, “Oh, that is just so great,” even though I haven’t really done anything, but I’ll know what they mean and say “thank you.”
The next time, I won’t come out. I’m at a party where I don’t really know anyone except for this one guy I kinda knew in college. He invited me on Facebook and now realize that he invited everyone on Facebook, more as an FYI than an actual invitation. I try to tell myself it shouldn’t matter whether I come out to them. It shouldn’t matter. Right? But then I’ll find myself fist-bumping and using words I never use, like offensive line and IPA and titties. And I’ll realize that it’s more than not coming out. I’m morphing back into the person I pretended to be before I came out. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism or self-hatred or all those years I spent watching Anderson Cooper. So, to make it up to myself, I’ll leave early and go out to Purr where I know they know I’m gay because a guy at the bar will turn to me and say, “Hey buddy. Do you wann- you wanna ride this?” And even though he’s super drunk and just fell off his bar stool, I’ll be flattered and yes I do.
The next time I come out will be to my cousin. We didn’t grow up anywhere near each other; he lives on the East coast in the same town where his parents were born and their parents were born. I’ll post an article on Facebook about how you can still be fired for being gay in twenty-eight states. He’ll comment, “U gay?” I’ll wait a week before deciding to reply with a simple “yup,” and then soon I’ll realize that he de-friended me, which shouldn’t feel bad because I don’t know him. We really do live on opposite sides of the country.
The next time I come out will be to my favorite barista. She actively uses Snapchat, which means she’s five to fifteen years younger than me. She’ll ask about my weekend and I’ll tell her I went on a date with this guy and he wasn’t my type and I didn’t hit it off with him, and it will sound just like that because today I’m about as coy as a goldfish. She’ll tell me that she doesn’t usually label herself as anything in particular, but there’s one girl that comes into the shop all the time who she has a crush on, but hasn’t had the courage to say anything to. And with the same breath, she’ll tell me what the special roast is and that she thinks my hair looks good today, and it will all seem like everyday conversation to her, which makes me think there might be a whole world of people out there who are using Snapchat and don’t give a fuck who I do or why and they will still like my hair either way.
So the next time I come out, I’ll think of her and risk a glitter-like glimmer in my eye while I’m talking to this guy I just met and I’ll say, “I’m gay,” simply and directly. He’ll smile back at me and say, “I’m gay, too.” I’ll see his Alabama t-shirt and I’ll rush to confirm he watches RuPaul’s Drag Race I’ll say, “Marcos? Are you Amber’s coworker Marcos?” and he’ll say “nooo…” and then walk away. And even though guy-who-isn’t-Marcos and I didn’t hit it off, I’ll keep the glitter in my eye for a little longer, holding on to a touch of happiness until the next time I come out.