Querying Cuse: Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are

Posted: November 4, 2008 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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A friend gave me this book freshman year of college, after a dozen or more failed attempts at officially coming out to my parents.  Because the parentals aren’t blind, deaf or dumb, it’s safe to say that my childhood predilection for Clueless and pastel-colored clothing was enough homo-insignia to non-verbally communicate my sexual persuasion. Though because we live in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” society where heterosexuality is the rule, words often need to be spoken. Even after 21 years sans girlfriend or pretenses of hetero-machismo, mother has not asked, so I have not told; though she’s wont to drop the deftly executed hetero-bomb:  “Ah, Mitchell, you’re so cynical.  Your wife is going to be so lucky having to deal with that…”  

I always cringe.   

Perhaps these references are made as bait for a gay retort; or perhaps my silence is mistaken for sexual convention.  Regardless, even as the editor of Syracuse University’s LGBT publication, the author of this LGBT blog, and my active engagement with the LGBT community on campus and at large, I am still very much in the closet.  Watch the way I dance after a few too many beers and that statement becomes quite a mind fuck.  


As exemplified by When I Knew, a collection of coming out stories compiled and edited by Robert Trachtenberg, coming out is a thorny, life-long process. Of all the quirky and uplifting anecdotes, the one thing that’s always stuck with me was a quote from Brian Leitch:  


Often, the most difficult person to come out to is yourself.  Each LGBT person has their own EUREKA! moment of queer enlightenment, each at different points in their lives.  Mine’s came pretty early.   

I knew in kindergarten, when I’d play “unicorns,” galloping through the stalky grass with the best of them, as the boys threw rocks or pretended to be Transformers.  I knew-knew in 5th grade. While waiting for my mom after school, munching on rice crackers, Brandon, a brawny, barrel-chested 7th grader, approached.  I recoiled out of fear.   

“Hey, can I have some?”  Taking a handful, he patted me, gently, on the head.  I swooned.   

I really, really KNEW in 6th grade, during Summer Fun.  Rob, a lanky, freckle-faced senior in High School was our junior leader and during a particular day in the pool in attempt to get the volleyball he was guarding, I jumped on his back, pulled his hair and bit the back of neck. The currents that pulsated through my wet body were terrifyingly exciting. 

The first time I came out to another human being was in 7th grade.  It was to my friend Cecily—in pager code.  Because pager code is a highly ambiguous form of communication, I sent the message in four different number arrangements before she finally got it.  I was relieved by her nonchalance: 50 1774672 (so what?).  


Post-high school, I’ve been pretty open with everyone I’ve come across, but I’ve learned that coming out is a never-ending process. Unless I tattoo a rainbow flag on my forehead, every new social interaction brings with it the need to navigate the thin and knotty line between sexual assertion and self-segregation, when to drop the gay bomb and when to opt for silence. Early disclosure tends to cause some to immediately close up before they get a chance to realize: us queers really are just like you. But perhaps that’s what they were afraid of.  

~ Mitchell














  1. christine says:

    really enjoyable read Mitchell

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