And I couldn't be happier.
In this post I had intended to talk about another wall in my life, emotional separation. But things changed last night.
While I was working on another post, I noticed a chat box pop up in Gmail. One of you, my fellow MoHo bloggers, was saying hello and striking up a conversation.
I looked at the little box in the corner of the screen and pondered for a moment the significance it meant to me. I had never before talked to or chatted with anyone in real time who knew I was gay. I had only sent individual messages back and forth. With comments and e-mails, I am able to think more about what to say, and it feels safer.
But the thrill of chatting with one of my MoHo peers was too great, and so I dove in, almost giddy for an inexplicable reason.
I had previously corresponded with this blogger through comments and e-mail because of some similarities in our lives we noticed through our posts, though only recently. Confidence building because of these shared experiences, we had an invigorating conversation, quite academic at times actually, which I enjoyed. With similar thought processes and both of us reveling in rich, thought-out and properly punctuated communications and language, we hit it off quite well.
From what was being said, even in the casual back-and-forth dialog, I started to get the sense that he was someone I could trust and talk to. He emanated such an aura of both comfort and confidence. We agreed that the feeling was mutual.
In the middle of our conversation, we happened upon subject of common friends. He generously shared his Facebook profile with me, and I discovered we had three friends in common, though most were peripheral to me and not too close of acquaintances.
I mentioned two of the random common friends to him, knowing it would be possible, though implausible, to figure out who I was from that information. I was less worried than my normally paranoid self would have expected because of the calm I felt and because both our common friends had almost 900 people each in their friend lists.
He jokingly asked if telling him the names of the friends we had in common was a challenge to figure out my identity, and I replied that it might be fun, though improbable.
Within an instant, my friend, who might have a better career as a FBI agent or analyst, cross checked the two lists for commonalities and bam, there I was. His next two-word post both excited me and terrified me: “Found you.”
My heart skipped a beat. I quickly concluded he was just playing with me. No one could work that fast.
And then he said my name.
I don’t think I can accurately describe my emotions in that instant. Instead of the dread I was preparing myself to feel, instead of the fear I expected to shortly overcome me, instead of the insecurities and lack of confidence that had always plagued my mind in my lifelong pursuit of hiding from the world, I felt something shockingly new. When he said my name, I felt relief.
I felt a calm release, a refreshing freedom, a reprieve from the mental, emotional and spiritual grief I had known for so long. The secret burden I had been carrying around my neck my whole life had just been shared, and my load was unexpectedly lightened. I was overjoyed.
No one had ever seen my face and known the truth. Only I had ever looked into those eyes in the mirror’s reflection and witnessed the true me. The realization that someone else knew my identity and my deepest secret was the best feeling in the world.
I can’t tell you how happy I have been today. I can’t stop smiling. (My coworkers all thought I was nuts or high on drugs.)
I am sure the moment was not as impactful to him as it was to me, nor should it be. I am sure with time I will look back on this post and sheepishly smile to myself about what I have written. But it was one foot out of the dark.
Our conversation lasted two and a half hours, and within that time, he had written himself into my life history as the first person, other than myself, who had seen my face and knew I was gay. I am grateful he found me, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to reveal myself on my own, and the joy I have felt because of it has been indescribable.
And with that, the first person who truly knows me, GMB, has also become the first person on my newly created Facebook MoHo friend list.