I've known for a long time that I am attracted to men, but carefully
suppressed the evidence. I struggled with myself for a long time,
denying my attraction for men, affirming my attraction for women, and
eventually self-identifying as bisexual. I'm Irish, and as Eamonn,
Cathal, and Ciaran have written, Ireland is socially backward, and
visible gayfolk are few and far between. I despaired of ever coming
In August 1989, I came to Brown to do a Master's, and discovered
soc.motss. I became an interested, if clandestine, reader. I began
to think that I might someday come out, but it was no more than a
long-range plan. This state of affairs might have continued for years
until an event occurred which made the possibilty of my coming out
real and immediate.
My old friend Eamonn McManus came out of the closet at the end of last
October, surprising me greatly. Eamonn had been so successful in
concealing his gayness that I had never seriously considered that he
might be gay. This revelation caused me to reconsider many things,
not least the truth of the cry `We are everywhere'. The knowledge
that a good friend was gay and out and happy affected me in a way that
the knowledge that there were many happy motssers had not. This was a
personal, burning truth, real in a way that dispassionate,
intellectual knowledge cannot be.
I promptly came out to Eamonn and began vicariously experiencing
via email some of his coming out. For the first time, I began
seriously thinking that I might come out in the near-future.
Thank you, Eamonn, for being the catalyst of my own coming out
and for everything else.
While I was back in Dublin at Christmas, I tentatively tested the
waters by mentioning in passing to various family and friends (our
mutual friends already knew, of course) that my friend Eamonn had come
out of the closet. Reactions were fairly positive and I was given
I returned to Brown with the intention of coming out sometime in the
next few months. Then I began drifting, telling myself that I'd come
out in a while, but not making any plans. A couple of weeks ago, I
got a hold of myself, and made myself a promise that I would come out
on my birthday. To ensure that I'd go through with it, I told Eamonn.
A few days later, I told Ciaran when I wrote to thank him for his letter
to an Irish newspaper, which he had posted here.
Last night five of us went out for dinner, then went back to my
apartment. There were several opportunities at which I could have
told them, but each time my nerve gave out. Finally, just as my
roommate was about to retire for the night, I managed to announce in a
rather strangled voice that I was coming out of the closet. They were
surprised but supportive; essentially the reaction that I had
expected. Nevertheless, actually making that announcement was one of
the hardest things I have ever done---the closet is such a damnably
insidious, comfortable, safe place.
Now I'm a confused mixture of elation, nervousness, relief, and
depression. The positive reactions dominate however, and I
intend to go on coming out. I only wish that I'd done it years
My Irish friends who are reachable by email will receive a copy of
this article. I will tell my parents when I see them in May, then the
rest of my family. I'll contact my other Irish friends soon.