I’ve been lying to everyone for most of my life. I lied to Mava and Daniel, my two best friends in high school when they asked me if I was queer. I lied to every girlfriend who I used to prove myself that I wasn’t gay. I lied to my parents and family about whom I was dating, what my life was really like, or even when I would get married.I thought I was fooling everyone by playing like I was straight. I even got one of my close friends to pretend as if they were my girlfriend on my 21st birthday. I showed her to my mom, she liked her and she kept on asking me about her and how our relationship was going. I would often avoid the subject when my mom asked me about her and said things were fine.I was overwhelmed with the shame of being gay in a world that worships masculine power. I suffered immensely the pain of knowing that I cant change the one thing that makes me different from other men. I used to imagine that being gay would ruin my life completely and there is nothing that I can do to change it.Living a double standard life is very hard and depressing. I used to question myself everyday why and how I turned like this. I hated my life because of my sexuality. It used to bring me into an emotional roller coaster every time I thought of it.I used to get mixed of emotions when I saw my friends with their girlfriends or with girls, hugging and laughing together. I felt sad, angry and depressed inside because it's what I wanted but I could not have.I used to look at the world around me, the world of friends, acquaintances and family; and I would imagine that very few people will ever accept for being gay. I would imagine that I would be a social outcast that has failed in life. I was afraid of losing people that are dear to me. I envisioned a lonely life, one that is childless and a social outcast. I believed that the life that I have known will completely collapse the day I announce that I was gay.The net of lies that I had created around my life would soon close in on me. People that I look up to and highly respect would often ask me: “When am I showing them my girlfriend?” I remember my autie once said to me: “Tshepo makoti o kae, we want to see who you are sharing your life with.” I felt like digging a hole as I didn’t have an answer for her. Straight people don’t have to come out of the closet, because they’ve never been in one. They’ve never been compelled to lie about or hide their sexual orientation, because they live in a society that accepts and celebrates it. I eventually came to a point in my life where I chose and decided to live an authentic life, one that is not overridden by lies and secret affairs with other men.All that I ever wanted was to be accepted by those that love and not be judged. I used to believe that “coming out” doesn’t make any sense as straight people don’t have to come out and say to their family that they are “straight.” But I have come to appreciate that at times family just wants us to be happy and live a fulfilled life.I had to come to a point where I had to be a man and take responsibility of my life and stop living behind my fears. The fear of the “unknown” reaction when my family learns that I am gay and will NEVER bring a girl home always haunted me.To my surprise when I did eventually bring my boyfriend home he was welcomed and the resounding message that I got was: “This is your life and if you dating another man makes you happy so be it. We will support you and welcome him to the family without exception.”There is nothing as fulfilling like when gay man who was previously in the closet and brings his boyfriend home; and receives the love and support from his family at large.Maybe I am blessed to have an understanding family that is modern and has moved with the times. The love and emotional support displayed toward my partner is priceless. When he was home he became part of the family as if he was one the “ kids in the family”. The support I received from everyone including extended family; elders, aunties, uncles, cousins etc; is worth treasuring.I used to think that my life would end the day I “come out” instead today I live a life of richness and added dimension of emotional depth that you can’t imagine before I took that leap of faith of living an open life about my sexuality to those that are dear to me.As much as I don’t believe in holding a “COMING OUT CONFERENCE” with your family, I believe that living an authentic life that is not based on lies involves introducing your partner that you plan to spend your life with to your family. This is off course to end the speculation, gossip and most of false expectations that you will eventually bring a girlfriend, get married and live happily ever after with your wife.When I confronted my “identity crisis” and faced the truth of who I really was, my life began to take on an entirely new look. No matter how hard it might be to be openly gay, it is the path toward being authentic. Living a lie has never and will be a pretty sight.