The Sufficient Fiction: In Celebration of National Coming Out Day

The 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights occurred on October 11, 1987 and Ya Brista was a young 16-year-old proto-gay sitting at home watching the news about the 500,000 people who had gathered on the National Mall that day. My most vivid memory of that day was watching an old (to me) man stand in front of those gathered and declare, before the world, that he was a homosexual. I was filled with despair at that moment because if he still had these feelings at 50 (ancient to the eyes of a 16-year-old), what hope was there for me?

I lived in that despair to greater and lesser degrees until one day I woke up on my 27th birthday and wrote the following…

The time has come for me to face the truth.

I am gay.

Those three words have been in the back of my mind since I was 14 years old, but until today, I could never say them, even to myself. This can’t simply be a stage I’m going through, because stages don’t last for 13 years. This realization does not bring me any particular sense of peace or well-being, but a sense of loneliness because it throws into chaos all the plans I have for my life.

I don’t like going to gay clubs and standing around listening to house music all night long. I think most drag queens have deep-seated emotional issues and I would never be caught dead making a fool of myself at a gay pride parade. Gay pride is a misnomer for my life. I am neither proud nor ashamed of it. It is just who I am.

I have never felt so lonely as when I am in a room full of gay men. I feel no kinship with them. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that we have in common is our sexual desire for men (real men, not effeminate male women). Other than that, I am a completely average Black male.

How did I get here? When I am honest with myself, I spent the last 13 years in a fantasy world called Soon. Soon was that completely tangible, yet totally unknown day in the not-to-distant future when this stage of my existence would end. I kept thinking it would come next week, or in a month, or next year, but definitely by the time I was 18 or 21 or 25 or 30. Until today, I was always certain that it would come. Soon…

But Soon never came and now it’s time I stopped bullshitting myself. Soon hasn’t shown up yet and it probably never will. What the fuck am I going to do now? Soon provided the Sufficient Fiction on which I based everything in my life.

I know that eventually I will come to terms with my life, my mission and my place in the world, but right now, I feel completely and utterly lost…

Far from being revelatory and freeing, that declaration, on my 27th birthday, only made matters worse. I had long since settled into the Sufficient Fiction of the closet, but had lately become to see that fiction as a trap, a prison. Before I came out to anyone else, I had to come out to myself to be free of the trap of subtle and overt lies, of pretend existences and imagined perceptions that only lived in my mind. I had to stop living in a Sufficient Fiction.

I can look back on the words I wrote that day as the start of a long journey to my true self, but it was not an easy journey. The first few steps on that journey were learning to give less fucks about what other people thought of me. The man who was to become my gay mama taught me that people were going to see a homosexual, regardless of how I monitored my body movements, or the company I kept. Frankly, that is the key lesson at the foundation of everything in my life.

When you become less bothered by other people’s notions of whom you are and can be, you are free to get all the way into yourself and live your highest and truest expression. A byproduct of being less bothered is that you learn to give others the same freedom you seek. A drag queen doesn’t have any deep-seated issues, she is just living the highest expression of herself; or maybe she does have some serious emotional issues, but that is between her and her therapist and is really none of our affair. Your issue with drag queens or fem boys is YOUR issue, not theirs! They will be just fine either way as they make their own journey.

Speaking of journeys, although mine started that day in 1998, it continues to this day. In fact, it might not be complete until the moment just before I die, when I am finally at peace with every part of the existence that is Dominion ONYX. In the meantime, as we celebrate this and every National Coming Out Day, I hope that you will free yourself from your own Sufficient Fiction and get all the way into your life. I wish you success on your journey.

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