main
home
calendar
contact
be an ally
the anthology
the bathrooms
constitution


resources
coming out
health
organizations
books
courses
movies
people
definitions
miscellaneous
coming out anthology 2006

 

An Unsent Letter to Paul Newman

Dear Mr. Newman,

Hi.  You don’t know me, but I certainly know you.  Or, at least, in college I annually consumed excessive amounts of alcohol in your name for reasons I never fully understood.  Did you know a whole Friday at Bates College is dedicated to you each year?  Actually, it was because of you that I came out of the closet.  Honestly.  I thought you might like to hear about it.

I was a second semester freshman, enduring my first Maine winter.  I know you spend a lot of time in California, but Maine is very very cold in February.  Cold enough to actually make you want to drink 24 beers in 24 hours – as the tradition in your name goes – which I was attempting when I kissed my friend Adrienne at an off-campus party.  I shouldn’t have even been there – let alone kissing girls – as I was on crutches and pretty out of sorts.  So it was a good thing Adrienne walked me home.

But the next part is where the story gets good, Mr. Newman.  Adrienne walked me to my dungeon in Parker Basement – that’s a dormitory here – and put me to bed.  I kissed her again, but then stopped myself.  She said: “Give me one good reason why this wouldn’t work.”  I said: “I have a pretty good one.  I’m gay.”  Awkward, yes, but only for a while.  That very night, Adrienne deemed herself my GP – “Gay Planner” – and together we compiled a list of people I wanted to discuss my newly disclosed sexual preference with before I was officially out.

I cruised through that list Mr. Newman, you would have been proud!  I even hit 4 people in one day.  But despite my 100% success rate, I was terrified of telling my best friend, Evan.  He is a great guy, but he grew up in the boondocks of Maine and had never really known gay people before.  To heighten the drama-factor, we had agreed to live together next year.  Yikes.  After hitting everyone else on my list, I got Evan alone on the Parker porch, and dropped the bomb.  The rest is lost in an adrenaline blur, but I followed it up with something like: "I understand if you second guess living with me next year, but I just want you to know that you're my best friend and I’m not attracted to you or anything.”  Silence.  Crap, I thought.  Then, from Evan: "What do you mean you're not attracted to me?  I'm a good looking guy!"  It’s still the best reaction I ever got.

10 days and 21 people later, I was relieved, exhausted, and officially out – whatever that means.  It all ended up being pretty easy; all I needed was a catalyst.  Had I not  been challenged to drink 24 beers that fateful Friday in February, I may never have come of the closet!  So thank you, Mr. Newman, for being my catalyst.  You set the bar high, and for that I salute you.

Cheers,
Larry Handerhan
Bates Class of 2005

 

 

- home -