By Jeff Walsh
It happens in an instant. That moment of recognition. Before it, you may have been confused, questioning, and unsure about who you are... but afterward, you may have still had questions... but you knew what the deal was.
There's just that "Moment You Knew," where life changes.
For some people, it was less dramatic. They always knew, it just eventually got a name. For others, it is a longer journey.
But however you get there, it is still something that changes you life forever. There will always be life before that moment, and life after it. It is "The Moment You Knew..."
My story: My entire coming out happened online. My gay community was online. When my modem was occupying the phone line, I was connected. When I logged off, I was alone. What is often taken for granted today is still something I remember not existing.
When I first America Online, it was not to explore my sexuality. It was for "research." At the time I was writing a screenplay and there was a gay teen character in it. Since, I wasn't gay, I figured using some of the trial memberships online would let me talk to gay teens to help develop the character. I was in my early 20s at this time.
I got into some of the gay teen chat rooms, identified myself as a straight screenwriter, and said I needed their help to tell my story. One of the guys I chatted with ended up being my first online boyfriend. Now, keep in mind, this was a different moment in time. Back then, America Online charged by the minute. In fact, here you go: this is one of my old bills. You can see that this one happened when I had probably maxed out a credit card, as AOL resubmitted my previous month's bill on here as well. I used to find enough money to ensure there was enough room on it for that month's bill.
The official "moment I knew" happened during a five-hour instant message session with the boy from Chicago (whom I'll call ChicagoBoy in our IM transcripts below, but that was not his real screen name). It started as just me talking about him, asking him questions, but at some point, I started dropping my own defenses.
So, rather than write this in the polished words of some 38-year-old living in the Castro (which I'd much prefer), let's unveil the poignant excerpts of the cringeworthy IM transcript of that fateful night, where we see me identifying for the first time as bisexual, talking about how I still like girls, and my desire to avoid "faggy" guys. We talked about suicide at one point, which led me to reply: "I'd rather suck a dick than a bullet." Which, although not relevant to today's topic, certainly amused me; just knowing that I was still able to be witty in this window of time.
So, here you go. This will give you a better picture of things, but at the same time, yikes...
Jeff W7902 Everything in my life is on hold it seems. It all revolves around not knowing what I am, not liking what I think I am, and wondering how I can get back... Or do we just think too much?
ChicagoBoy I'm just as lost... first quarter I had straight A's ...now I dropped to 3 B's 2 C's and an F!!!!! :(
Jeff W7902 Well, I am hoping that if I get into a sexual relationship with a girl, this will change. Hopefully, it will, If not, I should start looking realistically that I may be BI. I still have a 3.25 average. Fortunately, I'm smart enough to get by on doing practically nothing...
Jeff W7902 Yup! Even if we talk about it. It's nothing new. I've played everything out in my head a million times. No conclusions, no revelations, just more and more fucking confusion...
ChicagoBoy Maybe you're right...we think too much :/
Jeff W7902 How do you shut it off. TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ChicagoBoy If I knew that I wouldn't be fucked up!!!!!!!!!! Do you feel overly tired and worn out these days?
Jeff W7902 Well, I suppose it's nice knowing I'm not alone. I get about 5 hours a night, with full time school and a FT job, and work, and of course the Bisexual mental olympics every night...
Jeff W7902 I was initally surprised that AOL had so much stuff for GLB's...
ChicagoBoy Me too! I didn't even know about it till recently...
Jeff W7902 Why do I keep picturing my wife and kids? Do all gays?
ChicagoBoy I have NO idea....maybe you're feeling guilty? or you just can't get the idea of a normal life? I don't know!! >:(
Jeff W7902 Don't you feel you want to come home to a wife and kids?
ChicagoBoy Yeah...actually that's still how I picture my future...it's weird...
ChicagoBoy Trust me...you didn't fail somewhere or anything like that....and I doubt anything would have made a difference....if you think about it...how the hell is one thing or event in you life supposed to change your feelings?
Jeff W7902 But I told you, I'm a fore runner in the Bisexual Mental Olympics... think and think and think and think and...
ChicagoBoy WOW!!! I never thought somone would be thinking exactly like me!!!!
Jeff W7902 I even have gay friends that think I'm straight!
ChicagoBoy I wish I had someone to talk to earlier on when I was going thru my early stage..
Jeff W7902 Yeah, it was so gradual though, I would have denied it back then...
ChicagoBoy I don't have any gay friends except on-line..
Jeff W7902 The few I know are too "faggy" for me to talk to. Very much the stereotype...
Jeff W7902 Not a problem. For the first time in two weeks, my headache has disappeared. You?
ChicagoBoy I feel better when talking to you......at least...
Jeff W7902 Yeah, I feel comfortable talking to you. I have told you stuff tonight that no one knows...
ChicagoBoy same here!!!!!
Jeff W7902 So, what happens now? I typed that I think we are BI a while back, but that doesn't change my feelings that I stated b4..
ChicagoBoy this is rough!!!!! and overwhelming!!!!! :(
Jeff W7902 Well, I think I now want to have SOME kind of relationship! I mean I have been not dating since 12th grade (1986) and am still a virgin. That's not normal for BI or straight!
ChicagoBoy That kinda surprised me too.....but I wouldn't feel bad or anything...
Jeff W7902 I don't. If you were closer, I think we might be able to both have our first BI experience :(
ChicagoBoy oh man...that gives me the chills but it also gets me excited :(
ChicagoBoy I'm sick of denial......
Jeff W7902 Do you feel like you failed your parents?
Jeff W7902 So am I.
ChicagoBoy yeah I do..
Jeff W7902 Do you think you'll ever tell them?
Jeff W7902 I don't think I could. At least we both like girls, too...
Jeff W7902 I don't have a preference as of yet...
ChicagoBoy I dunno....guys tend to get me hornier..
Jeff W7902 You know that if either one of us had the opportunity to get some action right now. We have no inhibitions at this point...
ChicagoBoy that's true with me....now I know with you too!
Jeff W7902 I haven't felt this normal in a long time. It feels good... will it last?
ChicagoBoy I guess as we've found out that we're not alone we feel a little better...cuz we're not total freaks..
ChicagoBoy I don't know if it will last...
Jeff W7902 Or we're at least two freaks who connected. I'll even accept that...
ChicagoBoy yeah...at least we're not ALONE!
Jeff W7902 Fuck that lat sentence. I'm not a freak for feeling something I can't control!
ChicagoBoy YES!!!!! Do I hear alot less denial or what?!?! :)
ChicagoBoy now at least..
Jeff W7902 I never thought I would be feeling happy that I'm bi. But I am.
Jeff W7902 What's the dosage on this? How long will it last?
ChicagoBoy Maybe as bi...we're experiences and feeling more!
ChicagoBoy hopefully a while!
Jeff W7902 I've been on AOL for 5 hours. hehehehehe
ChicagoBoy man me too!!!!
Jeff W7902 Hey, you know how long this would have costed in therapy? $20 ain't bad..
ChicagoBoy it's pretty good! ;D
Jeff W7902 Yeah, I think today might be a turning point in my life...
ChicagoBoy I'm glad I was a part of it!
Jeff W7902 The odds of it happening with anyone else I talked to on here so far, is zero...
Jeff W7902 Thank God I found you...
ChicagoBoy you're sweet! ;*
Jeff W7902 Well, I can't see being ashamed of this anymore. Can you?
ChicagoBoy nope....cuz it's kinda beautiful
Jeff W7902 I mean, I'm not going to be open or anything about it, but I'm not going to torture myself anymore
ChicagoBoy heehe....I'm not gonna go parade or anything either...
Jeff W7902 Yeah, as long as I can live with myself, I am happy. I couldn't b4..
ChicagoBoy I'm so happy I could help!!!!!
Jeff W7902 Has this helped you as much as it did me?
He dropped carrier at that point, probably because of someone waking up in his house at 4 a.m., and him not wanting to get caught being online at that hour.
Two weeks later:
Jeff W7902 I did something I didn't think I would today. I told someone...
ChicagoBoy who?!?!?! what?!?!?!?! when?!?!?!?! what he say?!?!?!
Jeff W7902 He is like in his 30s. He was my teacher, but has since become my mentor, proofreader and best friend. He has read the script before. I kinda just said, "I think I know why I put Paul in the movie, Paul is me."
ChicagoBoy WHOA!!!!!! what he say?!?!??!
Jeff W7902 He was incredibly cool about it. He offered his help, and he was happy for me. I told him about you & he said that it sounds like I am in love and that he is happy for me. I almost cried, but I was talking to him while on the phone at work. I feel SO much better.
ChicagoBoy that's great....in love?!?!
Jeff W7902 Well, I told him that he talked for like 5 hours, that I confide in you, trust you and that I haven't stopped thinking about you since you had to log off...
ChicagoBoy wow!!!!!! then we must feel the same!!!!!!!!
Jeff W7902 :D I called three times today just to see if you were on...
ChicagoBoy REALLY?!?!?! You're so sweet!!!!!!! ;***
Jeff W7902 Well, when you confide in someone that much. It's kind of difficult to NOT want to talk to them again and SOON!
ChicagoBoy yeah...I felt the same...I was out all day....just got back about 40 mins ago...maybe less...
Jeff W7902 So, how are you doing, anything different? I want you to feel as good as I do!!
ChicagoBoy Not much different...and I DO!!!! ;D
Jeff W7902 God, Chicago is so far away... I actually was thinking of ways I could get there this summer...
Jeff W7902 Well, there seems to be a "meat market" thing going on a lot here. I don't think that
Jeff W7902 gay means promiscuous. Not necessarily talking about doing this, but guys meeting here just to get
Jeff W7902 together... Unsure.
ChicagoBoy yeah some of these guys are really sick...
Jeff W7902 I was private with a guy last night, and he kept saying "Do you have a large cock?" a few times. Kept telling me that he's sucked lots of big cocks. Scary part is that this guy lived five minutes away from me. Needless to say, we ain't getting together... :)
ChicagoBoy ICK!!!! 5 mins too?!?! WHOA!
Jeff W7902 Yeah... I'd rather dream of sweet things in Chicago...
I never made it to Chicago. We've never met in person. And have never been in contact since that time. Attempts to find him online have yielded no results. But in that five hour chat, I finally was on the path to accepting who I was. He and I were bisexual at that time, but both used gay within days afterward.
There were moments before this. Times that in retrospect make it obvious sooner. But this was the night it all changed.
So, when did your life change? What was the turning point? Or was it gradual?
What is your "moment you knew?"
Here's what others on Oasis had to say about their moment:
Duncan's story: The first time I started to figure things out was when I had just turned 14. I was sitting on my bed reading a book on teenage sexuality. (I had only taken it out of the library for the pictures anyways... But yea.) This particular book had a section on homosexuality, and though at that time I didn't think that the fact I liked guys made me gay. There were a couple of *ahem* photos and stories that were particularly cool. So yea. *wink* I decided I'd read about homosexuality, y'know learn a bit. Well, I started to realize that what they were explaining was what I felt. I was being reflected in the words in the book. I remember looking up from the book and saying "I'm...gay... ...Well, that makes sense!" haha. I basically had no problem with it. I knew that there was nothing wrong with it. And that's pretty well it. That's the moment I knew.
msquared's story: The moment I knew, I KNEW. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Well, maybe 97 tons of bricks, because the truth was so utterly overwhelming.
I was at a shin-dig with some amigos when my lady friend asked me and the group of guys I was with a question. "Why do guys think it's hot when two chicks make out?" As soon as she asked that, I knew. I had no answer whatsoever because I realized girls, whether they're with other girls or not, do not turn me on in the slightest.
Like Jeff, I thought I was bi, too, at first. Even though I knew I was unattracted to girls, I thought if I got a girlfriend and played lip tag the attraction would just spring up like it was always there. It's a common misconception, but completely untrue. The next day I realized the concept of me being bi was hogwash. I thought about the subject pretty much all day for a few days and by then I had completely convinced myself of my sexuality. Then I came out to pretty much all my friends. BAD CHOICE! Even if you think you're 100% sure of your sexuality, do not come out on a wide-scale until you've thought about it and gotten used to it for at least a month, if not more. It's fine to confide in a few really close friends, but don't come out to everybody if you've only just recently begun questioning your sexuality. I was lost and depressed for months after coming out because I wasn't ready to accept myself, but everyone else was. Know your gayness before you come out!
Imstillhere's story: The moment I knew was in the 7th grade. I was on the Internet (that's how it starts for a lot of people, I guess) and a pop-up for a chat room came up and I clicked it, being the 12 year old I was. It had a list of different ones and one said 'girls only,' so I thought that'd be cool.
I clicked into a room full of lesbians. It shocked me. Some of them were talking nasty but some were having real conversations. I had'nt really thought about being gay before. I didn't think about being straight either. I got a private message from a girl calling herself Abby. I didn't really know what to say and she just asked me about me and hobbies and such. Then she asked, "so are you gay/bi?"
"I don't know." That's what I always said. "Well, do you like girls or guys?" Still didn't know. I was brought up to marry a guy, don't even think thoughts like that about girls. But thinking back, I had never liked guys in "that" way and only wanted to kiss some girls. So I nervously typed "girls." She said "me too :)"
I didn't know why someone would be happy about that. I felt so horrible. It's a sin, I told myself. I heard something in the hall and exed out of the chat room. I never talked to her again. I wasn't absolutely positive until I started falling in love with my best friend. You know the story, one day they just seem so great and beautiful and it just grows and grows. She was at my house and she said she wanted to practice kissing. A lot of her friends did it, she said. I didn't care. She was asking me to kiss her!!!
I was so unbelievably happy but kept humble and said "ok." So, we kissed and it was so indescribably perfect. She told me I was a bad kisser, which totally shamed me. Then she laughed and said, "just kidding." Then we watched Ellen DeGeneres and never talked about it.
I was absolutely sure by that morning that if that's what being gay felt like then I wasn't ashamed at all. Later we discussed the whole gay thing and I told her I thought I was a lesbian and she said she was cool with it. I haven't talked to her since.
And one more thing to this really long piece of work, the one thing that made me settled in my newfound glory of finding my sexuality was coming on oasismag :)
antinous's story: I'm not sure I should be doing this. The pages of this journal are quite literally yellowed, and this is the first entry I ever wrote, dated Wednesday, April 13, 1994. I was eighteen years old.
I know the theme is "The Moment You Knew," but this really was. I only came out to myself five minutes before coming out to another person. I was very deeply in denial, and when that wall broke, it broke very suddenly and completely.
The only changes have been to change the names and to remove content that may not be suitable for all audiences. The removals do not materially affect the story.
I thought would be an appropriate christening for this - journal, diary, whatever - that I've been nagging myself to start for quite some time now. I guess it's so I can occasionally look back and see where I've come from. Well, I guess I ought to recap recent events. Saturday night I got drunk, and while sitting in the middle of the JHU baseball field at four in the morning, I told Sarah I was gay. I was wasn't easy. She wasn't shocked. I was kinda hoping for more response from the person whom I tell first - you know, something to tell the grandkids about. I talked with her until 5:30 am, then went back to my dorm and took a shower. I wasn't really drunk anymore, unfortunately. I told Sean Sunday night at midnight. He was unfazed. Damn, when am I going to get a reaction? Monday night I called Rob and tried to tell him but couldn't. This is so strange, so fucking foreign... I don't think I make a very good faggot. I only know what I feel, and that's that I prefer men over women. I can't explain it. I've known for five years. All I can say is that it's just me. I'm just that way. I have spring fever in a way I never imagined possible. And then there's that crazy fucked up suitemate situation. Who am I writing to? Anyway, Peter's my protection. I need a gay guy in the suite in order to provide a reason to get another suitemate who's open to having homosexual suitemates. I hope Eddie's the man. My #1 concern, however, is protecting Peter. I talked to Rob about this, but his attitude was "hush-hush," and I tend to disagree with him. This is SO fucked up.
I'd blame this whole in-the-closet thing for my reduced performance in the classroom, except there isn't any. I think I really did well on that physics exam, but I won't say so in public, because these insecure jackasses in my hall wil have a hissy fit over it. I want to fuck Carl Chang. And while I'm at it, I'll fit in Steve Chang. And Renee's boyfriend. And that absolutely stunningly beautiful boy whom I saw at Dale's party on Saturday night and who is a friend of Les's. No way in hell he's gay, though. Oh well, women are always complaining that the best ones are always gay. I'm waiting to discover who these men are that they're referring to.
I'm really scared. I don't know how to be gay. I'm so totally naive - what if I get "taken advantage of?" I need a blow, though.
What am I doing?
utter_insanity' story: I first realized that I'm gay when I was in sixth grade. It was October 2005. I was reading a comic book, and I found myself staring at the girls in the book. I thought innocent things like, "Ooh, she's really pretty." All of a sudden, I realized what I was doing. I was staring at other girls' bodies. And the crazy thing was, I liked it. I had had many more of these weird feelings during my life before this moment, but I had just pushed them away back then. This was the moment I realized, though, that I couldn't deny it any more. I liked girls.
I hid behind the "bisexual" label for eight months, surfing LGBT web pages and learning about what being gay means. I told myself that since I had supposedly had crushed on boys before, I had to like guys. But in May 2006, I suddenly realized that I was, in fact, gay. The "crushes" on guys that I had before weren't really crushes at all. All of the guys I had liked before were merely friends who I felt a deep affection for. They also tended to be shorter and skinnier than me, not to mention slightly girly looking. These crushes I had on boys weren't special, unlike the ones I got on girls. Whenever I saw a pretty girl, it felt like magic was in the air; when I saw a cute guy, I thought, "Meh. Whatever."
It may have taken me a while to get out of denial about this, but I'm sort of glad I pretended to be bisexual. This way, I got used to my sexuality at my own pace. However, I'm still glad I finally accepted the fact that I'm gay. Denial may have helped me get used to myself, but I still feel like an idiot whenever I look back at my memories of my "bisexual" phase. Sometimes when I reminisce, I want to scream at my stupid younger self, who couldn't understand what was going on inside her own head.
andyouwillknowmebythesoundofmyname's story: I first noticed I was different when GI Jane came out. I was pretty obsessed with the movie, but I didn't get to see it (it was an R and I was under 13). I kind of stared at the cover....a lot. My mom noticed and I said that I wanted to shave my head like her. Needless to say, she did not approve. I still haven't seen it the movie.
commander147's story: Hmm, that's easy. The first real day of junior year of high school. 7th period. about 30 minutes in... when I couldn't stop staring at this totally gorgeous (though I didn't know the term then) emo/goth boy... I mean... I knew... that well.... boys were always really cute... and girls were... meh... but that was the moment it crystalized.
william t's story: I believe that I knew before I knew. Like, I knew that I liked boys and didn't think that meant that I was gay until my sis asked who I thought was cute on TV, and that's when I knew. It was like, 'WOW! I'm GAY! cool!"
lost_in_wonderland's story: To me, it feels like I always knew. I didn't always have a name for it, but always knew. I've always had crushes on girls, with a slight attraction to a male every once in a while. I never dreamed of having some wedding to my husband, never wanted to play house (although I think that was just my feminist side showing: Who wants to pretend to do something we'll be doing in reality in 20 years?) I always found the female form attractive.
I think I came to the realization I was gay when I was about thirteen. It wasn't a huge deal to me, it was just kind of, "Hey, you're gay..."
dreamers imagine someday's story: I was 3, when I figured out I was different. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I knew I was gay.
When I was three, my grandpa use to take me to see his WWII buddies and their grandchildren. One day, the other grandchildren and me were playing. The boys decided to play war, while the girls wanted to play house. This was one of the first times I was ever playing with other children. I didn't like the idea of house, so I played war. I liked it, playing that. Over time I had a preference for "boy things", I started to think I was suppose to be a boy. Nobody really cared, but that was when my grandparents were raising me. It wasn't till my parents were finally able to keep me at age 4 when I found out that people could get angry about little girls doing boy stuff. My mom and dad were furious when they found out. I didn't know why they were so angry. Eventually my mom forced me to do girl stuff, cooking wasn't so bad, but the skirts were evil. I wasn't happy. I didn't like the fact that I wasn't able to do the things I like, that stayed that way till I was in seventh grade.
In seventh grade, I met a very great girl, Allyn. She eventually became a he. He told me, I didn't have to listen to my mom. He told me I could be a boy if I wanted to. For a long time I thought that I did, but eventually I figured out that I didn't want to be a boy. I just wanted to be a girl who did boy things. Slowly, I developed a crush on one of my friends. I asked Allyn what was that about. Then she said it bluntly, "Aren't you gay?" Me, in my fairly naive state, didn't know what that meant. She then started asking me a bunch of questions like, "Would you want to kiss a girl or a boy?" I answered a girl to every one. Then he said, "You are as gay as the sky is blue." I didn't want to believe it, because I knew what the church thought about it, and I knew what happened to my cousins who were gay. But I ended up accepting it in the end. Now I am a senior in an all girl school, my whole school knows. The only people who doesn't know would be family. But I know my grandpa would have been fine with it, he didn't care who I liked or what I wanted to be like, he only cared that I was happy. But he died shortly after I was returned to the custody of my parents. I miss him still.
whateversexual_llama's story: I can't remember when I realized I wasn't straight. It was somewhere around 6th grade... Or was it fifth? The line between not knowing and knowing is fuzzy... maybe because it didn't matter.
It was when I knew that it was right, when I knew that it was safe and beautiful and totally, totally me, that was the real moment of clarity, the moment that stands out.
8th grade. Earlier this year. Sitting in science class. The guy next to me turned and asked, "Are you gay?" And I said yes. And I wasn't scared. And I didn't care what his reaction was. And I didn't care who overheard.
And from then on, my answer was always yes. Yes, I'm gay. In the word yes, said with my head held high, were a hundred other answers. Yes, I'm human. Yes, I'm real. Yes, I'm in love. Yes, I'm happy. Yes, I'm confident.
And that's when I knew. Not when I knew I was gay, that was years before. That was the moment when I knew that it was all going to be okay.
Reinbow Grl's story: I think I knew way too young to even realize that I knew. I grew up playing house at a private daycare run by a mother who had, at the time, two daughters my age. It was the younger daughter that always wanted to play "house." For some reason, this always resulted in me being the husband and her being the wife. Which resulted in what kids think sex is...lots and lots of random moments with the lights off and too much saliva. I blame her. Not in an angry way...Just in a wondering way. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had not played those little girl games of fake marriages. Would I have been straight like her? Would my life be easier, like hers? Would I be less depressed, would I fight with my parents less? Would everything be different if I wasn't gay?
I had a girlfriend before I ever had a boyfriend. Nothing intimate, it was long distance. And for a very long time, I thought I was bi. Until the day came when I was leaving the boy, whom I once thought was the man of my dreams, for a girl. I had liked this boy for over a year, but I craved excitement. And then suddenly, I was madly in love with a girl at the grand old age of 13. And there are days when I wonder if I am not in fact, still in love with this amazing girl who rocked my world when we were mere children. She was…She is…I am still speechless and it’s been almost 3 years.
Eventually, this magical creature and I broke up and I was left with a broken heart. By then, I knew I was gay, that I may like boys every once and a while, but I would only be able to love a woman. Heartbreak heals slowly. I thought after she left that I wouldn’t be able to love anybody; that I would still be crying myself to sleep in 5 years. I was devastated. Because you see, she was more than just a first love, she was my best friend and she still is. But the real moment that I knew…that I knew I would be okay being me happened almost two years ago.
I was cuddled up with my current girlfriend and I was telling her every secret my heart had harbored for so many years. And that’s when I figured out what love was like. Not the dysfunctional roller coaster from my past, but the love that would heal previous wounds and make me forget all others before her. And now, I know that I will spend the rest of my life with her
It's not too late, to add your story of "the moment you knew?"