I came out for the first time on November 26, 1992.
That was the first time I said it out loud.
It was also, really, the first time I'd admitted it to myself.
I'd been active on some level in advocating for queer rights for nearly ten years by then. I'd been around other queers in a firm and active way for just over three years.
But November 26, 1992, I admitted out loud that I was not there as an ally. Then, to my shame, I was so scared my community would reject me that I quickly rejected them first; I cut off many of my favorite queers for fear they'd mock me once they knew.
P.S. They didn't, mostly.
Day 24 of my month of gratitude: I am thankful for the last twenty years. I am thankful for progress, in public and in my own soul, even incrementally. I am thankful for the very queer life I am able to build in my 40s, even if I was too scared to build it in my teens and early 20s. I am thankful for books and movies that have possibly literally saved my life, thankfuller still for the amazing LGBTQ (and allied) friends and family I have collected over a lifetime and over the last few months.
When people — even queers and allies — are discussing whether we are "born this way," this argument is often made: "Who would choose that kind of life, with all the pain and heartache and discrimination?"
I proudly say: "Me." I would.
Because living this kind of life, with all the pain and heartache and discrimination, is so much more than worth it you cannot imagine. It is so, so beautiful — and so clearly home.