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A closet divided cannot stand

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Coming out of the closet, for me, was a two-year process. It started with a little exploration. I still remember the first time I sat outside the Queer Resource Center at Utah State University. I would watch people walk in and out of the little room that was not much bigger than a closet. On Wednesday afternoons they would have lunch together, and I would sit on a plush leather couch just outside the office.

I would listen to conversations about dating, sex and coming out. I even ventured in occasionally to ask some questions for stories I was working on for the school paper or for a class. I think everyone must have known, but no one ever pushed me.

I also remember the first time I went to Bear Coffee, an event on Wednesday nights in Salt Lake City for big, hairy guys and their admirers. I had just finished helping my friend move into her new apartment and I had stopped at Raw Bean Coffee House to do some studying and enjoy a cappuccino before heading back up the mountain. As the upstairs area filled with large, oftentimes effeminate men, my palms grew sweaty and I wondered if the big gay mafia was onto me.

“You here for bear coffee?” one of them asked me.

“Uh … sure. Why not?” I wasn’t sure what a bear was or why a woodland creature would want coffee, but I knew I was intrigued.

I doubt I muttered more than three words the whole night. I couldn’t believe I stumbled on this unusual group of men who seemed at ease with themselves and with their sexuality. I left the coffee shop and drove back to school in Logan shuttering with adrenaline the entire way.

Coming out was the most exhilarating and excruciatingly difficult experience of my life. There were bad times too. Seeing the disappointment in my parent’s face and coming to the realization that I would always be seen as just a little different.

Recently, a young closeted gay man at Brigham Young University turned in a blackmailer who threatened to expose him to his family and school if he didn’t have sex with him. The deplorable action of Brad Ray Adams illustrates perfectly the extreme case of coming-out-gone-wrong. Coming out is tough enough. One gay man turning on another and exploiting his situation for sex and money is beyond inexcusable. If you, or anyone you know, has come in contact with Adams and experienced something similar, police are asking you to call Detective Brian Taylor at 801-852-7328. Confidentiality can be assured.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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