Coming out and coming into their own

March 14, 2002, midnight | By Elana Eisen-Markowitz | 18 years, 10 months ago

Like every American teenager, senior Tim Pittman has a lot on his plate. With college only months away, AP exams only weeks away and an English paper due any day now, life is a big ten on the scale of one to hectic. But, surprisingly enough, Pittman's shoulders have been just a little bit lighter since the beginning of the school year. Maybe it's because, for the first time in forever, he can finally stop pretending to be straight.

In high school, sexuality is common knowledge and sexual activity is everybody's business. But even at a school with a reputation for being as liberal and accepting as Blair, how does a guy explain that instead of getting a goodnight kiss from Jill this weekend, he's going to be kissing Jack?

Coming out confused

Pittman knew in middle school that he wasn't 100 percent heterosexual and, in response to a curious inquiry, came out to a friend in the eighth grade. But in high school it was tough to come out more publicly because he never felt like he knew anything about his sexual orientation for sure.

Still questioning everything and not wanting to be labeled too soon, Pittman finds it difficult to place himself on the spectrum between bisexual and gay. "I feel like I should have come out with a big chart with a dot on it [indicating] where I think I am, not with one word," Pittman explains.

At this point, about ten of Pittman's closer friends know that he's not straight, and he believes quite a few others suspect something of the sort. Feeling very lucky, Pittman claims to have received absolutely no form of negative backlash and says that he is far more distraught about his sexuality than anyone he's told. "Nobody cared at all. I was more upset in the telling than they were. [Coming out] is one of those things that, if you watch too much TV, you think it's going to be really stressful, but it's not. My friends are nice people, you know?" he says, smiling.

Senior Nathan Hoefner tells a similar tale of his experience coming out at Blair. Hoefner is perhaps more "out" than Pittman. He acknowledges that although he actually only told his close friends, news at Blair travels fast. He says that most people's reactions impart a similar level of initial disbelief but are not at all offensive or upsetting. "Everybody always just has a lot of questions," Hoefner laughs.

Out but not an outsider

It was tenth grade when Pittman found the perfect occasion to come out to someone at Blair. Before agreeing to become more serious with his girlfriend, he decided it would be appropriate to first discuss his sexual confusion as he understood it then. "I had to tell her. But it wasn't like, ‘Hey, I'm your boyfriend, and I'm gay!' It was the truth the way I thought it was then, but not necessarily how I think it is now," Pittman explains. The couple broke up six months later, but Pittman attributes the break-up to unrelated difficulties.

Hoefner's coming out process took on a comparable form. Before telling his friends or his parents, Hoefner came out to his cousin in ninth grade. Then, on Valentine's Day last year, Hoefner thought it would be appropriate to finally come out to his best friend at Blair. Ironically, she was under the impression that he was hitting on her. "She thought I was asking her out when I was really trying to tell her I was gay. She didn't believe me, and then she was like, ‘Really?'" he remembers.

In terms of his parents, Hoefner reasoned he could cross that bridge when he came to it. However, the bridge came a little sooner than he was expecting. "My mom kind of figured it out herself this summer. She confronted me about it and said something like, ‘You know how I always talked about you growing up and getting married? I don't necessarily mean to a woman,'" Hoefner recalls. He then felt he had to officially confirm his mother's suspicions simply to ease the awkwardness.

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Elana Eisen-Markowitz. Elana Eisen-Markowitz was born in Washington, DC and lived there until her obese younger brother was born and the family was forced to move into a larger house in Takoma Park, MD. Elana then enrolled in the Spanish immersion program at Rolling Terrace Elementary School … More »

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