For inspiration, Steve Kornacki's painful, humorous, insightful coming-out story at Salon yesterday is a must-read. And for understanding of the numerous concrete challenges most folks in the U.S. who come out of the closet still face as they do so. Even in big urban centers commonly considered gay-friendly and gay-inclusive.
I can relate to much that Steve Kornacki says: to the Catholic
insanity guilt that long caused him to play dysfunctional games with himself and others, to the deep, difficult-to-articulate fears he faced as he knew that identifying himself as gay would impede his chances of having a secure job and a journalistic voice people would listen to, etc. I can't relate entirely to his experience of fitting more or less comfortably into the jock-buddy culture of high school and young manhood. My experience in that regard was entirely different.
I think that coming-out sagas like this retain a crucial importance in a culture in which the religious right (along with the leaders of the Catholic church) continues to do everything in its power to keep many of us from seeing the human faces of those who are gay. If nothing else, Kornacki's story may open some folks' eyes to the intense struggle and copious amounts of energy required to claim one's identity as gay in a culture in which the political and religious right does everything possible to shove gays back into the closet and to overlay gay humanity with demonic images.
I highly recommend Kornacki's essay, and applaud him for writing it.