Becoming out. Blog reader Sterling talks about his coming out experience in the first of a series of posts.

Some people see coming out as a certain, particular point in their lives.

 It’s always viewed as that point when you actually tell someone…”I am gay”.  My story has shown coming out to be a process, not a singular incident in time.  This arduous path is usually filled with moments of uncertainty and self-doubt.  But as those who have traveled on this road know, the end is worth the rocky road.
I wish I could say that I was always comfortable with how I felt and who I was attracted to, but being from an extremely religious family didn’t allow me to fully accept who I truly was.  I struggled with feelings that were considered sinful and sought to suppress them as much as I could.  I even went so far to surrender to the ministry and go to seminary.  During this time I found myself to be living a double life and sought more hetero stability.  This came in the form of getting married to an unsuspecting woman.  I know it sounds like a bad thing to do to an innocent woman, but after years of beating myself up for liking men, I felt that the longest step I could take would be marriage.  In the end…I trapped myself, and hurt others.
Marriage was hard on me because I wanted to be straight and happily married.  I wanted to live the truth and not a lie.  It turned out to be the opposite.  I prayed, read scripture and sought every way possible to repress my true feelings.  Nothing worked.  Nothing helped.  I told myself that I needed a miracle and I needed it fast.  Then…the miracle walked into my work place.

I worked at Starbucks as a barista and loved the diverse customer base.  My religious background had taught me to accept only one path and believe that all the other paths were wrong.  I had a very hard time adhering to this practice and enjoyed learning at Starbucks to accept and befriend people who were different than myself.  June 1, 2001 I worked the morning shift and precluded it to be a normal day at work.  Then, a young man walked in the door and announced that he was starting his first day.  I was immediately enraptured with him and asked one of my co-workers who he was.  They laughed and said that he was the newbie. Needless to say I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him the rest of my shift.

At Starbucks one of the jobs for newbies is to change out the coffee every hour.  They do this by emptying the old coffee into a pitcher, pouring it out in the sink and then setting up the new coffee to brew.  This day, the job was placed upon the newbie.  As I was working on closing down my shift, he apparently emptied the coffee into the huge pitcher and proceeded to walk toward the sink and pour it out.  But, instead I heard a massive splashing sound.  He had dropped the pitcher onto the floor spilling coffee everywhere.  The point of this is not that he spilled the coffee or that someone was going to have to clean it up.  The point was that he glanced up at me and had the most embarrassed look on his face with red, red cheeks.  He smiled his beautiful smile and said…”sorry”.  It was at that point I said in my mind, “I love you”.

At that time, one of the perks of working at Starbucks was that you could get free drinks at your store anytime.  Being in a miserable marriage caused me to hang out at the store practically every evening.  The evening of the newbie spill, I went up as usual to have some coffee and talk with friends.  To my joy and amazement, the newbie was sitting outside drinking coffee and reading a book.  I got nervous and didn’t know what to do.  I settle for a quick hi and practically ran into the store.  But…I told myself that if he were still sitting outside when I left that I would go up and talk to him.  Amazingly, fate would have it that he was still outside when I left a couple hours later.  I walked up to him and began talking to him.  We finished our conversation when they locked the doors and turned off the sign.  I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but I can tell you honestly that we have seen each other every day since.