At least I didn’t think I did.
My story wasn’t that tough. I mean it was and it wasn’t.
I came out to the woman I was married to 10 years ago.
That was tough. But necessary.
It took a long time to get to our new ‘normal’.
We did though and came out of it with an incredible relationship based on our mutual respect for each other, our love for our children that we were committed to raising as a team with the values we both shared. And with the reassurance of some stability.
See, I didn’t drop a bomb and bolt. I only knew I had to tell her. I hadn’t planned an exit.
We talked about that. I didn’t really want to leave, I couldn’t afford to leave and our kids were young and I felt I needed to be there.
I stuck around for a few years before we decided to fill the kids in. I came out to them and told them I’d be transitioning out of the house one night after dinner.
Their reaction was a non-event. They just looked at us like there was more to the story.
We tried to get them to talk about it but they were like, is there something bigger you are trying to tell us? I said no we just want to make sure you’re okay with it.
My youngest was priceless, he responded with this:
“Well, God, you’re so serious its like you were going to tell us his favorite color is now brown or something.”
We laughed and their mom asked if they had any questions.
“Yeah what’s for dessert?”
Okay mine wasn’t the typical story and I chose control over chaos and that worked for us, mostly.
My nephew Jack is in his early 20’s. One day over the summer when the family got together for dinner before my own son left for college, Jack mentioned he had plans later with his girlfriend and his buddy Mikey and his new boyfriend. Jack and Mikey had been friends since pre-k.
Jack’s mom was like ‘OMG Mikey’s gay? I didn’t know that! Why didn’t you tell me? When did you find out? Why didn’t he tell us?”
Jack said “ wtf mom I didn’t ‘come out’ to you as straight, why does he need to come out to you as gay? He’s just a friend and a guy and he has a boyfriend. You’re acting like he won a prize for his sexuality.”
She said no she just wanted to make sure he knew we all supported him. Jack said, ‘again, you didn’t tell me you support me for dating girls, stop making him seem different when he’s just Mikey.”
That right there is gold.
Stop making US feel different when we are just who we are.
Just like there are shades of masculinity, Hence the title of my blog and business, there are shades of gay. Some gays are loud and proud, and there’s a full spectrum of that. Others are less loud, but still proud. And sadly, some are not proud, out of fear mostly, or conditioning. And many are not out.
Why aren’t they out? And who are they?
Well it’s no one’s business if someone isn’t out. They have to come to that in their own time and in their own way, and often it takes a huge step to conquer that fear to do so. Let them be, help them with support, not pressure.
October 10th was national coming out day. Again, do I need it? Not really. But what I realized is that it’s not for me its for those that might be too afraid to take that step.
So we tell our stories, we share our success or hardships along the way, and we take pride in posting something so personal that should make people just understand we aren’t different we just are who we are.
But who are they though?
I like to say a vast majority are likely older generation people. But they can be anybody. Likely people who don’t think they can even relate. They may have families that are not yet accepting of homosexuality for whatever reason, or they may be of a generation that felt it was wrong or you had to hide your sexuality. Or they may not relate to the gays they see in parades and on TV and just don’t think there’s a place for them.
In a previous blog Parades, Parties and the Problem With Gays I kind of lambasted the pride parade as an event to put on display the very stereotypes we are trying to live down. And how instead of a parade we should have a random day chosen every year that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community just walked outside and met on the town common, or wherever. We could be seen for who we are: doctors, dentists, nurses, acupuncturists, paralegals, CEO’s, bartenders, or out-of-work IT Middle Managers. If someone is gay and afraid to come out, what would make them feel more safe at an event? One where all these people are on display in harnesses, short-shorts and butterfly wings?
Or dressed like they are day-to-day at work or on the street?
Think about that?
I’m not saying don’t be who you are or hide who you are. I’m saying be proud of who you are day-to-day and really show the heterosexual population we’re right there with you, literally, serving you coffee, driving your bus, fixing your teeth, your plumbing or your computer; and that it doesn’t matter.
The younger generation definitely gets this.
When my youngest was 5, I’ve told this story dozens of times, tucking him into bed with his mom he asked us:
“How do men have babies?”
We thought, oh god it’s too early for him to start the sex convo and to late at night to get into it.
‘What do you mean?” we asked.
“Well, if a man marries a woman, they can have a baby. If a woman marries a woman they can have a baby. But if a man marries a man they can’t have a baby. So how do they have kids?”
From the mouths of babes.
And off to sleep he went, not seeing any difference in the three couples except one’s inability to procreate. And because he grew up in the generation of social media portraying sexual fluidity and openness his vantage point never changed.
I think it’s harder talking to older generation people about coming out and gay vs straight issues than it is younger kids and millenials. They just don’t see those differences.
They don’t need national coming out day.
Neither do heterosexuals. There’s no closet of shame for straights, No one questions Jack when he’s seen kissing a girl. He doesn’t need a day of recognition. why should gays need one? Well…
For those married guys that are afraid of the outcome, emotional and financial,
For those in super-religious families that are fearful of being shunned,
For those in abusive relationships with parents, partners, siblings or even friends,
For those in the public spotlight,
For those that can’t admit it to themselves,
National Coming Out Day is for you.
And you deserve it.
Read our stories, learn from our experiences. But mostly gain perspective that here on the other side, outside the closet of shame, we’re ok, we're good…mostly ;)
You deserve all the support you need without ANY of the pressure. Just know you are loved and just know its okay to be where you are, it’s okay to take your time. But most importantly…
It’s okay to come out.
There’s a whole community of people who care and will be there, and can even help if you need it.
Come out of the closet, come out of the shade and into the warmth of community.