A Coming Out Story

christopheroakes

Vulnerability encloses me. I do not know how it happened, nor how I got here. Yet, here I stand in front of you all, laid bare. A secret I never meant to tell you all, has nearly wormed itself out of my mouth, exposing who I am, who I really am to you all. Ninety-nine peers, ninety-nine friends, ninety-nine people who I value above all else. Ninety-nine people who I now have to trust with my secret. Yet I am afraid. A secret like this has been hated for years, and I am afraid the stigma has carried forward to you all. But there is no turning back now, because now it is a matter of trust… 

Today, I want to share with you the story of Christopher Oakes. A story of coming out. A wonderful story of fear, courage, hope and love.

Christopher continues his story…

I sit in a large room. The roof arches down to walls covered in face-brick, exposing the flesh of the building, as if it welcomes us all to do the same. The light that shines through the large windows at the front of the hall are luminous, sending streams of light dancing like a fire over all of our faces. I feel brittle, as if a breeze could shatter me to a million pieces. After all, this is a space where we are meant to expose ourselves to our grade, or as I now call them: my family. The means of exposure is a small box we are required to bring containing items that represent our spirituality, relationships, recreational activities, and our dreams. I believe my items are who I am, but deep down I know that they are an artificial representation of myself. The feelings inside of me are insidious yet inveterate. They will not leave me, and if I don’t do this I will be consumed by regret. “How easily the words would go in, clean as a bullet, leaving no mark on the skin, stopping the heart within.”…

Cool air flows over my face, dampened by the lack of intense heat from the sun. The calm and shallow breathes of my friends surround me as they sleep after an emotional day. I feel a woeful emotion growing inside of me, as the menacing feelings consume every fiber in my body. I’ve always said I was brave and strong, yet three words are tearing me up inside. They scream to get out, yet I remain inactive refusing to let them go as much as I want to set them free. I am enveloped by juxtaposed emotions, two sides of me warring with one another. Will I let myself be free, or be enslaved by the fear of history?

Applause echoes around the room as another friend is welcomed back into our family with open arms, accepted for their honesty. I know it is my turn now. Reaching the front, I turn around, anxious about what is to come, afraid of what I might say. With shaking hands I begin to describe my items, unveiling my artificial face. While describing my final item, ready to rush to my seat, I stop talking. My mouth begins to move on its own. “I’ve always been afraid of the ones I love judging me for who I am…” I try to stop myself from talking, but the words keep on flowing, despite my entire being fighting in protest. Inside I am screaming, praying for this to stop, pleading for this to end. Then I realise that I am not alone. I cannot see Him, but I know He is there. The time I needed Him most, yet forgot to ask, is the time He truly revealed His love for me. I now know I have the strength to face all the pain coming my way, and with a conviction that is my own, I utter the three words.

“I am gay”. The silence that ensues is deafening. ‘How easily the words went in, clean as a bullet, leaving no mark on the skin, stopping the heart within.’ Blank faces stare back at me, as my heart slowly begins to shatter. But then, a clear precise clap ripples across the hall. A sound wave stopping my heart from deteriorating. Then another and another. Each clap from my family is an act of love, mending my heart back together. Then they stand, tears flowing down their faces as much as they flow down mine. I am loved. ‘

‘How easily the sounds went in, clean as a bullet, leaving no mark on the skin, mending the heart within.’

– Christopher Oakes

9 thoughts on “A Coming Out Story

  1. What an AMAZING and articulate young man!! I want to shout to the world, “Look what you’re missing!” for those who refuse to give LGBT people a gracious audience, and really listen to who they are—-Ahhhhhhhhh!!! I am so happy for Christopher–he is a beautiful soul!!!

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