OUT OF THE BOX:
A SEATTLE-MILWAUKEE LOVE STORY
ON NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY
10 | 11 |16
BY Dominic inouye
I have met so many new and wonderful people this year and since I last shared my own coming out story online. I published OUT OF THE BOX on one of my first websites, which I called Roaming the Greenwood. On this National Coming Out Day, I offer it to you here, then, because it is, really, a story about Milwaukee, above the place in which I truly discovered myself and found my partner of over 20 years. Admittedly, I have never had to suffer the slings and arrows of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred from outsiders, like many of my LGBTQ students, friends, and acquaintances have. I did, however, endure over a decade's worth of psychological manipulation and struggle from within, from the woman who swears she never stopped loving me. OUT OF THE BOX is a compilation of over 10 years worth of letters written between me and my mother, as well as me and friends and confidants, priests and teachers.
From the introduction:
This memoir was easy—and difficult—to write. My mother, my friends, and I wrote it together. Between 1994, as I got ready to graduate from Seattle University and went on a Jesuit retreat and got my first lengthy letter from my mother, and about 2004, when the letters ceased coming in the mail with her identifiable handwriting on the envelope, the memoir was writing itself, out of joy and pain and yearning.
As the millennium approached and e-mail became more ubiquitous, we still chose the traditional epistolary format, as did my friends. There was always something romantic, at least for me, about actually writing a letter, as we aligned ourselves with letter writers from centuries before (some of the first novels, especially by women, chose the epistolary format), working out our needs and loves and frustrations with paper and pen and sometimes printer ink. Writing letters afforded us more space to write, slowed down the pace of our thoughts, increased the tension as each letter left our part of the world and entered the cavern of the mailbox, allowed us the climactic experience (a climax to the expectation, the waiting) of walking to the front door, slitting open an envelope, unfolding a crisp tri-fold, and drinking in each others’ carefully crafted thoughts, rather than simply opening up a button on our computer screen with one touch, scanning the screen, then deciding whether to hit the reply button or which folder to stick it in.
Writing, folding, addressing, licking, walking, sending, waiting—these are all very personal and active and intimate actions. Therefore, choosing to present this decade in my life as letters instead of writing them as prose narrative was an easy decision. I want to welcome you into our conversation.