Ten years ago today I did something I never imagined myself doing. As I grew up and slowly began to realize I was very different from my peers, because I was attracted to men, I made a conscious decision to never share this part of me with anyone. This decision was based on all that I had learned to date about how life would be for me as a gay man. I witnessed extreme bullying and ridicule at school and saw stories on television, in the news, and in the movies about how gay people acted and how they were treated. I knew almost immediately that I didn’t want that kind of life. As time went on though, society evolved, and I found myself conflicted by having to be untruthful to my friends, my family, and my co-workers. There was a piece of me missing from every social connection in my life. And I was living a “second life” limited by never telling anyone I met my true name, what I did for a living, or even where I lived. Relationships constructed with lies never work and I found myself feeling empty and lonely.
Even just ten years ago, homophobia in law enforcement was a driving force fueling my fear and keeping me in the closet, but the fear of growing old alone without ever having the opportunity to live fully in the truth overpowered any fear I had of being rejected. On March 10, 2004, I took a huge risk and shared my story with an almost perfect stranger. He was a student in one of my classes who, for whatever reason, I knew was also gay and someone I could trust; the one who came into my life who I was to say for the first time to anyone, “I am gay.”
I remember that night like it was yesterday, but can hardly remember what my life was like before that night. I have been truly blessed with amazing family, friends, and co-workers. With few exceptions, I have been embraced and supported entirely. The last ten years have been completely different from anything I ever expected. I’ve written the two books on this website, fell in love and married a wonderful man, began teaching an LGBT studies program, started hosting an LGBT radio show, and continue to speak openly about the experience of coming out and being gay in law enforcement. It’s been quite a ride, but one I would take again without a doubt. I feel whole, true to myself and others, and successful both professionally and personally. There are not words strong enough to recommend taking this step for anyone who is still living in the closet. I’ve devoted all of my writing and all of the work on this website to supporting this message and hope anyone reading this will accept the challenge of coming out with confidence. Know that you have resources and support to be your true self and that taking this huge step will relieve you of the stress and fear that all comes with living a lie.
If you would like support, help, or to know more about how to come out, just click the link at the top of this page. Everyone involved with Coming Out From Behind The Badge respects the sensitivity of this time in your life and will respect your confidentiality. Use the resources in our books and on this website. Just don’t live another day in the closet, tell another lie, or wait another minute to start living your life fully in the truth.