I'm not out to anyone but a few bishops and counselors. And my wife and a couple far-away friends. So today when I was contemplating coming out to someone, it was a big deal for me. I think the issue for me is not necessarily how I'll be treated once someone knows--I tend to think that is easy to predict and I'll only out myself to someone who is enlightened enough not to let it matter. The problem for me is the control of information. That information now is largely under my control. People may suspect I'm gay, but they won't know unless I tell them. Once I've told a few indiscrete folks, the information will no longer be my own.
Not coming out has at times subdued my response on topics that I feel strongly about during medical school. It affects my credibility. You would think most doctors-in-training would be understanding about the issue and not be judgmental. You would be wrong. I've seen some alarming bigotry around here. And it's a good school that includes cultural competency in the curriculum. They can test us on it, but they can't make us buy-in. The point is, there are advantages and disadvantages to being out or not being out.
In the past I've been happy to not draw attention to being gay. I told myself my comments on gay topics would seek to be objective and it shouldn't matter what my orientation actually is. That hasn't always panned out though. One comment I wrote on an electronic message board elicited the angry response that I should put myself in a gay man's shoes before being so judgmental. The irony! But being called names for disagreeing is something I'm getting used to. Anyway, not being out seems to allow people to be more at ease. It loosens them up when we talk about it and I think I'm a more effective advocate for both gays and Mormons. Or at least, I did.
Today I wanted to really communicate with someone. I wanted to share personal stories. Stories that wouldn't make any sense unless you knew this about me. So, I shared. I came out. For the first time to someone I could look in the eye who wasn't a professional or spiritual advisor, a lover or a potential lover, I came out. I'll let you know more about it later...