Writes of Passage: Wil Whalen
It’s you from the future— 2010 to be exact. First things first, Powerball numbers for 8/25/2010 are 16-17-29-31-36. Remember those.
Okay, I know you hate being called Billy, but don’t worry, in a few years you’ll change it to “Wil” and it will stick. It’s 2010 and you are two months shy of your 42nd birthday. You won’t even believe how much things have changed. I’d describe the new technology to you, but it would probably make your head explode. I’ll clue you into a few things though: There are no flying cars, no houses on the moon, and nuclear bombs don’t destroy the planet. I know—big relief, right?
Oh yeah, in 2010 you don’t like Madonna, EVERYONE has tattoos and the President is black.
You’re gay. You know it, I know it, and chances are some of your Army buddies know it. Don’t sweat it, though; you still know those guys 20 years later and they don’t care. In just one short year, you’re going to leave the Army, move to Chicago and come out of the closet. It will be the single most liberating experience of your life.
Coming out is going to come with a price. People whom you assumed to be on your side will walk away. However, people you expect to walk away will become your rock.
Right now, you’re in Desert Storm. You probably just spent Christmas on your cot out in the middle of the Saudi Arabian Desert eating an MRE. Being gay is the furthest thing from your mind but in a few short months it will rear its beautiful head. Just know that you really can handle anything life puts before you. You go on to prove that time and time again. You just have to stay true to yourself and follow your instincts.
If you can just make it to 2002, you’ll reach a kind of contentment and happiness you didn’t know existed. I’m not saying the years between 1990 and 2002 are horrible, because they’re not, but you will experience some of the toughest times in your life in those years. However, you will also have a great time. You will always exude that sense of adventure and you really do live life to the fullest! You become a published writer, a great photographer, a graphic artist and an award-winning DJ. Most importantly, you maintain that goodness about you. Regardless of what hell life puts you through, you always come out smiling. People will always appreciate that about you.
Not to give too much away, but 2010 will find you happy and healthy with a full head of hair. (Phew!) You live in a big house in South Portland, Maine, five minutes from the beach. You have a great job, a lot of creative freelance work and most importantly, a group of friends who are like family to you. I want to thank you for having the guts to live out loud and take so many chances. You’re the reason I am who I am today. Always be good, but never behave.
Oh yeah, that boy-next-door thing you have going on will get you pretty far with the boys.
PS: Stop trying to please Mom. She never comes around.
Wil Whalen is a 42 year old, writer, artist, DJ, and all around good guy who resides in paradise— a.k.a. South Portland, Maine.
Read more letters in our National Coming Out Day section on Gay.com.