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National Coming Out Day: My journey to authenticity

I’m sharing a little more publicly today than usual because I want to make the point that coming out as a gay man has been the most important process of my life – nothing else is even close.

For decades, my seemingly ever-present smile wasn’t always as truly felt as it is in this photo taken a few years ago. How could it be with all the secrets, lies, compartmentalization, fear of being judged, self-loathing, and deep shame?

Catholic upbringing, Hispanic culture, Orange County – you do the math and wonder how a gay kid makes it through. He hides if he can – even from himself. He hates himself each time he has sex with a guy and yet he can’t stop. He has girlfriends and breaks their heart. He’s not always a good person or a nice person even if most people think he is.

This is how I lived my teens and 20s and even the first few years of my 30s. Not to say there were not happy moments during high school, college and early career. But the underlying anxiety and depression were ever-present and at times overwhelming. When the sleeping disorders intensified and the panic attacks became more frequent, the stress threatened to take over my life completely. I knew something had to give.

I began a series of face-to-face coming out scenes with my best friends that were sometimes emotional, sometimes comical, and always memorable. Everyone’s gaydar had really sucked! With the support of those really close friends and a few good therapists, I began a journey of self-acceptance that was scary but also such a relief.

I decided I was all in.

Being honest with myself? Coming out to the people in my life? Not caring about what other people think? Could I ever get there?

Nothing became more important to me than living an authentic life even if that meant giving up jobs, giving up friends, or distancing myself from family members. It was a journey and it took courage I wasn’t sure I had. The journey and the hard internal work was so worth it and it gave me great compassion for my younger self.

Then the most thrilling part came: integrating my personal and professional lives and just being one person all the time. This led to new friends, new adventures, professional growth and change, deep convictions, standing up for yourself time and time again.

I’m happy to be out in a public way and to be working each day in support of the LGBTQ community! Congratulations to all who are out and proud. To those who are not, we are here for you when you are ready – be safe and love yourself either way.


(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

4 Remarks

  1. October 11th, 2020 at 5:16 pm
    Kristine Erken says:

    Even if just one person reads this and finds some strength, you should be so proud!

  2. Your honesty shines truth to the power of coming out. Thank you. ????

  3. Happy Coming Out Day and congrats on coming out!

  4. I can so relate to your story! Nothing like the freedom of living life as your true self. Thanks for your story, Greg.

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