By Coming Out, This Member Saved His Family—And Himself

Bill C. spent half of his life hiding that he was gay. Now he’s marching in Pride parades with his grandson. Here, he talks about finding the courage to change his destiny—for both health and happiness.
Published May 31, 2022

It’s always hard to admit when something isn’t right, because that means you have to do something about it. I knew I was a gay in high school, but I didn’t fully realize I was living in the closet until I was in my early 40s. After I came out, I felt like I could finally be my natural self. I am much more mindful and present now, and I’m able to focus on living a healthy life in every way.

“After I came out, I felt like I could finally be my natural self.”

Choosing truth

When I was growing up, being gay just wasn't accepted at all. There was no Will & Grace on TV yet—it just wasn't a thing. Being the firstborn son in a Chinese family, I did get married to a woman and I had two children—and I don't regret that. But I did eventually come out to my family. My mother was quite ashamed and just wanted to keep it a secret. My kids, who were in elementary school at the time, were very accepting and understanding. My wife was just disappointed and worried that our relationship was fake, but I did and do truly love her as a person—I just couldn’t go on pretending anymore. Now we’re good friends.

Prioritizing health

When I hit a weight high point, I realized I needed to make another change in my life. My father was obese, so it runs in the family. As someone in recovery for drugs and alcohol—and proudly clean and sober for nine years and six months—I knew the first step was to simply admit that my weight was out of control so I could intentionally take steps toward healing.

In 2018, I joined WW at work, and I just celebrated my 200th meeting. I never wanted to do any sort of complicated diet, and I’d read other books that were really restrictive. I love the flexibility and ease of WW. I started with in-person Workshops in Portland, Oregon, but I have found the LGBTQIA+ Virtual Workshops to be incredibly helpful. I’m more comfortable being myself, and we can all talk honestly and feel like we don’t have to hide anything about our lives.

Embracing authenticity

Since coming out, I’m a lot less self-conscious. I used to worry about how I was perceived, especially as a professional and in business. But now I'm me. I am who I am. Take it or leave it. At my company, a financial services firm, I previously served on the board of our LGBTQIA+ business resource group, where we honor diversity and awareness throughout the company and with our customers. I march with my coworkers in our local Pride parade. I’m able to live fully and genuinely—to me, that’s essential for a healthy lifestyle, just like eating well and exercising.

“I’m able to live fully and genuinely—to me, that’s essential for a healthy lifestyle.”

Looking back, I think being in the closet was more stressful than coming out, because I was just hiding so many things and putting up a facade. But being out, you’re more vulnerable—to discrimination and exclusion. Things are overall better for members of the LGBTQIA+ community now than they were in, say, the ’60s or ’70s, but with what’s happening politically recently, things have also gotten worse, especially in some states.

I was in a support group for gay fathers, which is where I ended up meeting my partner, who is also a gay father. But many of the men were living in the closet and will continue to live in the closet because there is still a stigma attached to it. That’s why allies are so important. We need them. Even little things make a difference; if someone makes a bad joke, say that's offensive. Acknowledging us and accepting us go a long way.