Writes of Passage: Clay Monson
To myself, before I knew what life was;
Clay, there are so many things I could tell you and so many mistakes I could save you from, but the two bits of wisdom I'd like to share are these: celebrate you, and never stop smiling. Coming out of the closet is a scary prospect. It carries more weight than you probably think it does.
I promise you, follow these two pieces of advice and everything will be alright.
Celebrate you. It's kind of a funny concept but I'm serious. Now I know you're never the one to be outspoken or proud in yourself, but you should be. You're going to do so many things that you'll be proud of, and you're going to find that coming out is one of them. I mention this piece of advice mostly because if you don't celebrate and take pride in yourself, no one will. You are an individual and you are unique. Savor that. People will challenge this. They'll lump you in as just another gay. But you're not, and further more, no one is. Being gay is part of your identity but don't let it be a label. You're a person and a kick-ass one at that; believe me, I know. Even when people try to shut you down and demean you, know that you're you. Celebrate that no matter what anyone has to say about it.
This ties into my next bit of advice to never stop smiling. You have such a nice smile, even though you've always hated it. Many men are going to tell you the same thing. But it's important because it's a tool to help yourself fight off all the negative feelings you're going to feel. Those feelings will come and you will be frustrated. You’ll ask, Why am I gay? Why did I tell everyone? Why do people treat me different just because I'm homosexual? Why don't I have equal rights under our constitution?
I don't have your answers, but stewing and sobbing about them isn't going to do you any good. Acknowledge those feelings, they're normal. Feel that frustration, sadness, and anxiety, then just smile and move on. The world is going to get you down, and more often than not it will be somehow related to you feeling that you're different because you're gay. You are only going to stay down if you let yourself. For our sake, don't let that happen. Remember the good times, remember those who support you, remember the challenges that you overcame before.
Smile and move on.
I know you're thinking, Clay this is the stupidest advice in the world. That's not practical and it's not going to help me in specific situations. What is love? Is it normal to love a man? Am I even going to find a man to love? What is sex like? Is it painful?
The only thing I'm going to tell you is to find answers to those questions yourself. I remember those experiences as a wild ride— the best rollercoaster in the world. Remember to take things one at a time. The first step for you is going to be coming out. I can tell you after all the things you've done in over five years, coming out is your single proudest achievement in life. The rest will come, but you've got to take the plunge.
I also know you're wondering if Brian is worth coming out for. He's not going to ask you to, and you shouldn't do it for him anyhow. Do it for you. Take your first step to finding out what life is.
I love you, who you are now and who you will be. Go out there, take the first step, take no prisoners, smile and move on.
Clay Monson is a student in Rochester New York, working toward a degree in education so he can pass on what he's learned.
Read more letters in our National Coming Out Day section on Gay.com.