Gay Women and Men Coming Out - Three Personal Accounts
We Are All On A Journey
Some people just seem to be born knowing who they are. For others, the voyage of self-discovery can be difficult, even dangerous.They can be cast aside by friends and family - they are often ostracized and shunned.
Their normal curiosities must be hidden, and their fumbling first experiments must be carried out in secret. Otherwise they open themselves to ridicule and, all to often bullying, and abuse.
A climate of fear and hatred still blankets much of our world. Children are taught to go in fear of those perceived as different.They are taught to attack anything that is beyond their understanding, sometimes by the very people who are in a position to, and who should, protect all the innocent lives in their charge.
We are fortunate that some enlightened souls and brave activists in
this country have stood and been counted. They have raised their voices
in protest. They have fought for and attained legislation that protects
some of our charter rights, but the struggle for equality and
acceptance is far from over. Every step forward is hard fought: every
small concession, hard won.
...but it is worth the risks and the heartache, for who is anyone among us that can exisit for long cut off from their innmost being. Who among us can do more than just exist if they cannot realize and be completely who they are.
Give Them Hope
Behind The Title...
The reason behind the hyphen in the title of this hub is one of the reasons for my writing it. ..."How To Tell - If you are gay..." - more particularly, if you happen to be the gay person who is doing the telling.
Outing another gay has become a popular pastime for some who seem to find it impossible to "tend to their own knitting", as my granny would say. Many eloquent arguments have been made on both sides, and though I, too, would like to live in a world where sexual orientation is a non-starter in the "issues" category, I do not propose to begin to try resolving that question here.
I happen to believe it is the sole prerogative of the gay to tell or to not tell whomever they choose. Too many unhappy and dangerous situations have resulted from well-intentioned and/or downright malicious "outings".
That said, how do you, as a gay teen or adult tell those you love, whose acceptance and support you most need, that you are gay? Once the words are said, they can never be unsaid, so they must be chosen carefully.
I have no hard and fast answers, but I can tell you the stories of some gays I know who took these same steps you may be contemplating: one took them in fear and trepidation; one, with great courage; and one, who had the choice taken from her.
A good friend of mine told his family via a little maneuver I like to call the hit-and-run. He realized he could no longer keep his secret form his parents. Life was becoming far too complicated, and he was beginning to suspect they might be catching on, anyway.
He spent a week agonizing over a letter describing his journey to personal discovery. He talked about feelings he had been aware of as a small child. He talked about his own gradual acceptance of his nature. He talked about the support of his friends and classmates. It was a beautiful letter, full of love and hope.
At first he told me he would read it to them., but I think he lost hold of his courage while traveling to the family "homestead" for their annual summer vacation together. Whatever that reason, he later told me that on the morning of the second day, he simply placed the letter on his parents' pillow while they were at breakfast, and took refuge at a friend's house for the next three days.
On his return, he was greeted warmly. Nothing was ever mentioned about the letter or his absence, but his sister related the events of those three days to him in a rather pungent phone call.
His mother cried for three days while his father paced and roared and fumed. Both parents were upset at his news, but worst of all, they were shattered that he had not come to them, nor had not spoken of it sooner. Though his vanishing act seemed to give them a chance to get over the shock, I suspect his relief at the "no discussion" policy has always been tinged with the tiniest crumb of remorse for not staying to help them through it all.
My second tale is one of misadventure. A devotee of Sappho, aware of her nature from almost her first baby steps, had always taken great care to be discreet. Her mother was of Italian descent, her father's family came from England. She did take lovers but never for any length of time, and was most secretive about her comings and goings.
She loved to host gatherings of family and friends - never at the same time, though, for obvious reasons. Her partner at the time was of a rather unstable, volatile nature, and had already caused some consternation.
Our lady was to attend a family function out of town and had not included her partner because of the growing strain between them. Her partner took grave exception to this and immediately went to confront the woman's parents.
On hearing their daughter was gay, both responded, "She is not! How dare you come here and tell such lies." The outraged partner then returned home and proceeded to cut up as many of the woman's family photos as she could lay her scissors on - removing her face and the woman's from each photo.
Fortunately, her vandalism was not too widespread as she could only find one album. Nevertheless, the woman was distressed at the wreckage and devastated by her parents response. Their rejection of even the idea she might be gay felt like the total rejection of everything she was as a person.
To this day, it is still a sad and painful point with her. Though her father has passed on and she has had several partners since, she has never tried to raise the issue with her family.
My third friend was faced with a rather scary situation involving her job. Several of her managers were well aware of her new alliance. Indeed, several of her co-workers had remarked on the spring in her step and the twinkle in her eye after so many years alone. Working in adult education, though, she felt she should try to keep a low profile. She had successfully adopted the office dress code and culture, and fit right in to the very feminine environment - "passing", as it is called by some, "keeping your head down", to others.
Flying under the radar could be tricky at times but fortunately she had a son by a former marriage, and could trot out the required credentials during the "getting to know you" and "comparing notes" segments of morning coffee.
Her boss was a different matter, though. The office handled many government contracts, and proprieties were all important. Unwilling to have the rumors go past the nudge-nudge, wink-wink stage, and to forestall further comments, she decided to approach her boss.
As luck would have it though, her boss preempted her, inviting her and several of the managers into her office for a "wee chat' at the end of the day. An invitation to a "wee chat" could mean anything from a firing to praise for a new idea, so she was a tad trepidatious about the meeting.
"I understand you have something to tell me," was the stone-faced opener. Already, this was not going well.
Clutching her courage in both hands, she lifted her chin and managed to convey her good news, outing herself in a reasonably steady voice.
"Well, I'm sure I don't have to caution you to be discreet," was the brusque rejoinder. With a nod, her boss handed her what, on opening, turned out to be a lovely congratulatory card and gift certificate to a day spa - for two. Before she could open the envelope, though, her boss swept from the office leaving the grinning managers to uncork the bottle of champagne that had been hidden behind the desk.
You just never know...
Whatever our path, whatever we face as we travel along it, however dark the night, or stony the way, we owe it to those who have traveled it before us, to walk with courage, to walk in the light, and to walk together.
Be kind to each other, and know you are never really alone.
Last Words Of Harvey Milk
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