She looked like a punk rock Audrey Hepburn with crayon red hair. She was the first woman I ever met who wore leather pants. She played bass guitar in a punk band called Jade, and she was cast as one of the evil stepsisters. I thought she was just about the coolest person I'd ever met.
It had been six years since I delicately disclosed to my teenage son that I was dating a woman for the very first time. But my surprise announcement was quickly eclipsed by his sardonic response. "Mom, I always knew you were a lesbian!" he quipped, without a hint of surprise.
When I think about the type of unconditional love we hope to receive from others when we come out and the type of unconditional love we hope to share with another for the rest of our lives, I think of my grandparents. That's the type of love we come out for.
The closet seems like a vestige from a darker time. Many young LGBT people never experienced the repression, but there is an older generation of men who closed the door decades ago and now find themselves tentatively stepping out into a terrifying world. They often feel alone.
Throughout this process I've left Barrett the boy and have become Barrett the man. A man who released the shame he felt for wanting to love another man. A man who addressed issues that were holding him back. A man who has started to live authentically. A real man.
It turns out that our willingness to listen as well as talk -- a combination we can call Coming Out 2.0 -- not only affects those who are conflicted about LGBT people or prejudiced against us. It also keeps their hearts and minds changed for a long time.
On Saturday night I was able to sit back and watch my team capture the Yonkers City Championship. It was our second title in the past four years, but the first tournament championship since coming out. The next day, a rare in-season off day, I was able to sit back and reflect.