You can come out whenever

How to be gay, sort of

Harris Sockel
Human Parts



“When did you come out?” is a question I’ve been asked on numerous dates. (I’ve also asked it, usually when there’s not much else to say.) It’s a question that stands in for other questions: How well do you know yourself? How risk-averse are you? How liberal were your parents, your peers, your places of worship? Where would you situate your family, socioeconomically? Mostly, it’s a stand-in for: How new are you at this? And: Can I trust you?

Gays like me are conditioned to divide our lives in two: Before and After. Year Zero is the day we decide to walk out of a mental construct we’ve designed to keep ourselves safe. And then we keep walking… never to return. Goodbye old self, hello new setting on my dating app. Now I can finally be real with you, people without last names.

Like a lot of external milestones we tend to pour way too much meaning into — marriage, getting hired, getting fired, saying yes to the dress — the coming out myth rarely (never?) matches reality. Becoming yourself is deeper than going public about your sexuality. It’s more than…