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I began my coming-out in an email to a dear friend of mine who lives several states away from me. I asked her this question: "Let me ask you this: did it ever cross your mind that I might be gay?"
Her response was exactly what I expected and exactly what I needed: "To answer your question; no it never crossed my mind that you may be gay. Are you? If you are then you should know that all I have is love for you. All Love & Acceptance. Please call me. I won't take up much of your time."
Well, I didn't call her right away, but I emailed her back, to wit: "I don't know if you read the quote that I have in my signature, but it's kind of meaningful...about a man finding a place that he never knew about before, but where he belongs. So, yes, I'm gay. I've known it for a long time, but of course I've been hiding it from most everyone and I hid it from myself for a long time too. Last year on October 11 (National Coming Out Day) I wanted to tell you, but I guess I got nervous or something. I knew then and know now that I can trust you, and that's why I picked you to tell first. There are a few people who know - guess who! Of course, gay men and a lesbian girl I used to chat with online a while back. And now you - the first friend I've had guts enough to talk to about this. So, I'll give you full disclosure, too. I have been seeing a man, and he is wonderful. Yes, we are sexually involved, but that probably doesn't surprise you anyway...it's such a natural act after all. I won't tell you that I'm in love with him, but we have a very nice relationship, and I want to be with him more and more these days, though it's very difficult to do so."
I was confident that her response would be favorable to me, and of course that's why I chose to come out to her before anyone else. She wrote back "I am SO happy for you and honored that you selected me to disclose to first. You deserve to be fulfilled in all areas of your life & if Paul does that for you then I say- go for it!"
Now, of course, she had me going. I knew I needed to confess fully - not only about my new relationship and my being gay - but I also had to give her the background, to let her know how long this had been going on. It wasn't just an overnight thing, after all. I pretty much knew I was gay in 1998 or 1999, but I still dated women, I still thought I could hide my sexuality behind the smoke screen of dating. That proved to be true for the population at large, but I couldn't hide it from myself.
I told my dear friend almost my entire history, from the first time I ever thought of myself as potentially gay, through the stressful period during which I was beginning to realize that I was gay (and it terrified me!), on to the anonymous sex I enjoyed with other men while exploring this new truth.
Throughout our correspondence by email and phone, she was supportive. That's probably stating it too plainly. I could not have counted on such support from any other person, I don't think. No matter what I told her, she took it in stride and encouraged me, letting me know that she was happy for me, especially that I'd found someone special in my life.
I can't thank her sufficiently for her support. She made it so easy for me to be truthful, and I came to recognize my own value to a greater degree.