Daniel Gomez

Very few people know about my coming out story. I usually don’t talk much about it. But recently, I’ve felt like more people should tell their coming out stories. Not only for other out people to read, but for those struggling with their sexuality to read (especially those feeling miserable and afraid). They may find comfort and positive references that may help them in their process. Who knows!

First, I’ve known I am gay since I was 5 years old. That is my first memory of same-sex attraction. Really! However, where I grew up gay men just didn’t exist. The only imagery of gay men was a very stereotypical negative image. And you weren’t supposed to be gay! So I wasn’t. I started dating girls early. And pretty much ignored my gay side altogether. I also had a lot of guilt and thought I had to compensate for being gay by excelling in school, being involved in student government and every possible extracurricular activity available. That kept my thoughts away from how I felt and made me think I was compensating for that terrible character flaw! So I went through high school, college, and 2 years of working as a happy bachelor in Brussels without acting on my gay side (in Brussels…of all places!) I even made some very purposeful “self-therapy” to try to “convert” myself…like looking into the mirror and telling myself how I had the power to change this (how wrong was that, right?) Then came Chicago….

During the first year, I told myself I would come out after the PhD, when I had nothing to prove anymore. After the first year, I realized a PhD was hard enough without having to deal with hiding my sexuality. So I decided I would come out that summer (to myself and others). So I set up a profile on some dating site and went on my first date to Boystown. It was like being a kid in a candy store. No kidding. It was great. But afterwards I freaked out. So I reached out to one of my best friends who lives in London and told her. And then I visited the Student Counseling to talk with someone there about all this (those guys are great…if you are struggling with anything you should try them out!) Then my parents told me they were visiting. So I decided to come out to them.

I am really close to my parents. So I knew I had to come out to them and to both at the same time. One night after going to Ravinia, I walked them to their room and just said: “I have something to tell you: I am gay.” It was late and my dad just laughed a little and told me we should talk about this the following day. So the following day my dad asked me what exactly it meant to be gay (my dad is awesome!) It was a good, frank, honest talk. They were shocked, as any parent will be. Not because they are homophobic or anything. Just because they have to adjust their expectations of what our lives will look like. So I handed them some LGBTQ literature to read through, sent them links to PFLAG and also sent them some coming out stories I found on the web. Now-a-days, it is a non-issue. My mom even voted for a very LGBTQ-friendly candidate for Congress back in Colombia (I was very touched).

I later came out to my highschool friends, to my college friends, to my friends in Chicago. I think everyone knows by now.  I am a very happy openly gay man. Yup. Happy Coming Out Day!