On September 23, 1991, around 7:30pm at a friend’s apartment in Belleville, NJ, I uttered the words “I’m gay” for the first time in my life. I felt liberated and free. But the feeling didn’t last long—insecurity and fear crept in and took over.
As an emotional novice and physical virgin, acting on my desires scared me to death, so I slipped back into the closet. The weight of shame sent me into a dark depression, crushing me for several months. I lost close to 20lbs in two weeks. There seemed to be no end in sight.
Somehow in early 1992, and by the grace of god, I summoned the courage to tell more people I was gay. The love and support I received lifted me up and provided a foundation for never turning back again. These friends and mentors were my support system. With their help and encouragement, I took baby steps out into the world as a proud gay man. And that pride grew stronger. Not for being gay, but for fully accepting who I was and living my truth.
Every September 23rd and October 11th (National Coming Out Day), I reflect back to that time. If someone had told 23-year-old Pete he’d someday be married to another man for over 23 years and together they would become dads, he would have never believed it. And yet, young Pete, here you are, with a blessed life filled with love.
In the mid-1990s, I began writing a play, ANDREW REACHES THE OTHER SIDE, based on my coming out experience. I wrote ANDREW before I met my future husband Danny and before we became parents to Kevin. Now here’s a fun fact and prescient coincidence about characters in the play: the character of Andrew (based on me) falls for a character named Danny, who was based on a real-life person named Kevin. That play, ANDREW REACHES THE OTHER SIDE, was produced in March 2000, and still remains the best experience I’ve had as a playwright.
In recognition of National Coming Out Day, here’s a link to the script for ANDREW REACHES THE OTHER SIDE.
If you download and read the play, please let me know what you think here.