It’s hard to come out, especially if physical and emotional safety are concerns. So it’s understandable that many of us wait years or even decades to bust down that closet door. But one 29-year-old who came out just before the pandemic crisis says he’s grappling “inescapable regret” for all his years in the closet.
“Especially during these long COVID days of isolation, I’m burdened with all this regret for the years I was closeted,” he writes. “I keep thinking of all the boys I missed opportunities with, all the fun memories I missed out on, and the years of self-hate.”
Related: ‘Hairspray’ actress Nikki Blonsky comes out just in time for pride
In his Reddit post, he asks how other gay bros handled the same regret. “I can’t turn back the clock, so just wondering how some of you might have dealt with it?”
Many commenters can relate, as it turns out. “First came out when I was 25,” writes one guy. “I’m 28 now, but looking back, I still regret most if not all my life choices. Wish I knew how to deal with it.”
Another says: “I came out at 23 and do regret not doing it sooner, though I realize I did it earlier than a lot of people. I often wonder how my teenage years would have differed had my friends known.”
But a lot of commenters on the post are philosophical about their deferred comings-out. “It took how long it took, and I suppose there’s a benefit in that being a bit more mature when I started getting involved helped keep me out of trouble,” muses one.
Writes another: “Even though I occasionally get these regrets, it’s also almost hard to remember what my life was like before coming out because of how much has happened and how much changed since then.”
Related: Teen suspects his mom is forcing him to come out to his homophobic dad
One commenter reminds us that life is full of “what-ifs,” and he quoted a popular proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is now.”
“Just focus on today,” that commenter adds. “You freakin’ did it. Now you get to live the way you wanna live going forward.”
And another commenter tells the original poster not to rue all the time spent in the closet. “Those years were still formative to the out and happy person you are today,” he advises. “Plus, 29 is still super young. There’s a lot of adventure ahead. The greater the storm, the brighter the rainbow.”
That’s a powerful sentiment — and a timely one! Happy Pride to everyone in or out of the closet.
Imagine being 44 and still somehow in the closet.
It’s difficult no matter what age you are, even though I’ve been exposed to the gay culture since my mid-20s I have fully never embraced it.
It’s difficult, when you know your parents don’t support it based on comments in the past.
When you don’t talk about your sexuality at work and your friends have figured it out but you don’t
Focus on it because they are all straight.
I personally think it’s easier for the youth today to come out because of the culture but if you come out in your 40s you’re left behind because you don’t know how to be accepted because you’re criticizing much and all the support groups out there are for young people coming out not for somebody like me.
I’m not saying I’m not hooked up or dated I’m just very much not supported because I don’t really feel like I have any true gay friends and it’s difficult. I don’t know how to act at a bar, I don’t feel comfortable. Yes you have all these apps out there but they’re not for dating there for hook ups and it’s hard to meet somebody with quality when you don’t have a gay network.
I think the gay culture should do more for individuals like me and
Support us and write about others who are struggling for acceptance.
Hey there it is never too late to come out and be your true self to friends and family. I did not come put until I was 40 (it was my birthday present to myself) and it was the best thing. Until then I never realised how compartmentised my life had become. I was received all the support, love and encouragement from my friends and family (I was not surprised but there is always a slight risk that it may not have been accepted). Yes I wish I had come out earlier but I do not have any regrets. So Justsimple all the very best for your personal journey on whatever path you take.
I was a bit scared to come out to my family as well, also due to past homophobic comments, but I knew I had to (for no other reason but to be true to myself). My mother could it have been more loving! Sadly, my father had passed away years before but my mom assured me that he would have loved and accepted me regardless. Family and friends can surprise us. Those we think will shun us sometimes embrace us and those we think will be okay push us aside.
I finally decided I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.
Hi mate, let me tell you that it’s never too late to come out & that it always get better I promise you(unless you live in a country where it’s illegal). I came out at 40 (3 years ago), I was married for 20 years & have 3 teenagers, my family are very cultural (Lebanese heritage) & religious (Catholic). So you can imagine how difficult it would’ve been for me. 3 years later & I have zero regrets, it’s the best decision I ever made. I absolutely have no regrets, be it my past or since coming out. You not being comfortable & or not knowing how to act in a gay bar has a lot to do with being closeted. I never went to any gay venue or street until about a year before I came out. I started shaking & when I walked into the club, I was almost judgmental of myself & I couldn’t get comfortable. But I do remember thinking to myself “I wish I could be myself & comfortable with who I am like these guys dancing in front of me”… I can promise you that the awkwardness & uncomfortable feelings have gone & I’m loving the real me. Like one of the guys that replied to you said which made so much sense… “sometimes the ones you think are “religious” or “homophobic” tend to be the most supportive ones & the ones that we think are open minded can sometimes be the ones that struggle most”. That definitely was experience also. At the end of the day, better they struggle (that’s their problem) than you struggle your entire life. I’ve learnt to say to myself, I don’t have a problem, I’m just being who & what God created. They have the problem for not accepting what has always existed & been around since forever. I don’t know where you are, but here in Sydney there are many support & social groups for LGBTQI+ (mainly for gay men) of all ages. There’s a app called MeetUp, it’s not specifically a gay app, it’s a social app but you select your interests & your sexuality. You then select whatever group suits you. It’s an amazing way to meet, feel supported & socialise with like minded people. Most importantly you’ll feel comfortable to just be yourself. If you don’t have MeetUp then google search. Surely there’d be many different types of groups that support you.
Good luck mate… & always remember nothing beats the feeling of being truthful & honest, especially to yourself. Take care mate!
Accept that you did what you had to in order to get to this place. Dwelling on your regret will only keep you from living a full life now.
28, 44, no it’s never too late to come out. Today’s young people have it so much easier, but each person’s story is different. I was 65 when I told my brother and Sister-In-Law I am gay. They said they knew. I have always been out at work but not with family. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, a difficult time to be gay. There have been some famous people who have come out in their later years.
Be happy that we live in a time where in many areas of the country you CAN come out. Don’t regret, be happy that you got there.
YES I CAME OUT IN MY MID 30’S MY DAD WAS A MAN WHO THOUGHT THAT YOU EITHER DO THINGS HIS WAY OR YOUR OUT OF THE FAMILY SO I TRIED TO DO THINGS HIS WAY SO I WOULDN’T BE OUT OF THE FAMILY BECAUSE HE HAD ALREADY KICKED MY OLDER BROTHER OUT FOR A FEW YEARS BEFORE HE CHANGED HIS MIND AND HE ALSO KICKED MY OLDER SISTER OUT SO JUST TRIED TO RIDE THE WAVES UNTIL I COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE. THEN I FINALLY CAME OUT AND HE SAID I ALREADY KNEW YOU WERE BUT WAS WAITING FOR YOU TO COME OUT.
I came out when I turned 50.
Part of wishes that I had come out earlier in my life, but then I’d have missed out on blessings that I currently have, like my 2 kids.
I also have my best friend in the world in my ex-wife.
For every choice we make, something has to be sacrificed. I don’t regret coming out “late” in life. FOR ME I didn’t come out late….I came out right on time. ?
I was outed when I was 17 and at the time I felt so relieved that I didn’t have to hide my sexuality. I’ve seen others in my family keep theirs a secret and how sad they seem at times. For all, I know they may enjoy the lives that have now.
I’m about to turn 50 and, yes, at times think what I had to keep it a secret longer? But I’m where I am and I am happy here.
I’m Here, I’m Queer, everyone around me is used to it! 🙂
I distinctly remember aged 7 realising I liked boys (later men) when the boy who sat next to me in class inadvertently touched my arm and it gave me goosebumps. I immediately asked him to do it again and I had the same feeling run through my body. I remember thinking to myself ‘Oh – I like boys!’ and never looked back. I never hid my feelings. I saw what it did to my 10 year older brother who (though totally gay) got married to a woman her met at work (who told him she knew he was gay but SHE wanted to get married) because he was so scared of being found out he agreed to it. Scared of what other people would think? No thanks! He even put himself through electric shock aversion therapy which possibly did psychological damage. The marriage was disastrous.
I watched it happen and thought ‘that’s never going to happen to me’. Life is too short. Follow your heart and gut feelings. If you ever have to lie – DON’T lie to yourself!
Not being true to yourself has ruined too many good people with potentially great lives ahead of them. What a tragic waste.
I’ll be 34 in three weeks and I’m still in the closet. Every time I get the courage to finally take that step, something happens and I freeze up. I want to be free. I want this pain to be over, and I’m so sick of living a lie. I’m just afraid of losing my friends and family because I was lying to them for so many years. Without them I have nothing. Oh well. Maybe someday…
I lived under the assumption that I had to make some grand coming out statement until I met my partner. He’s lived his entire life in a very very rural area. Very Christian. Very backward. He’s never come out to anyone. He’s just lived his life unapologetically – neither confirming nor denying. What we do with our genitalia is private and our business. We respect those around us and they respect us. Straight people don’t come out. There’s no reason we have to. Also people aren’t as clueless as you might think. I’m sure many of your friends and family suspect.
Not coming out until much later in life probably saved my life. I came of age in the heyday of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I had a boyfriend with whom I was exclusive. When I wanted to live openly as a gay couple he ran scared and I stayed in the closet, not coming out until 25 years later. I’m quite positive that saved my life. After coming out I didn’t feel I missed out on anything and even beyond the expiration date for gay men I’ve never wanted for companionship and even went on to marry my partner.
Gay culture has a perfect Value trifecta – young, beautiful, and rich. If you’re not at least one of those, you’re going to have a tough time of it.
Coming out late, you lose the youth card. You better be rich or beautiful, baby, or don’t bother. This is the message that gay culture lives by. Before your confetti gun explodes on me, just stop and look at this very website Queerty. This site hypes “Goods”, yup, the beautiful thirsty boys, more than anything of substance.
Coming out late also means that you’re going to have to really work to belong. And coming out late means you’ll be coming out every day for the rest of your life, to high school classmates, to employers/employees, to everyone who knew you before and says “oh” and everyone you’ll meet in the future who says, “what? How?” Coming out at 20 is so very different from doing so at 45. More work, more isolation, and more being judged.
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