Going Out

By Thursday, August 28, 2014 7 Permalink 0

This is so stupid. I should just go home. Really? You drove all the way down here just to turn around and go back? I don’t need this, okay! I’m going home now! What’s your problem? It’s just a bar! I put my hands to my ears. God damn it, stop it! Just shut the fuck up! Ok Henry, calm down. Relax. Go in, hang out for a bit, then leave. I stop at the corner and stare at myself in the window of a parked car. What the fuck is wrong with you? Breathe. Get a grip!

It was the second time I had walked around the block trying to convince myself it was okay for me to go into Woody’s. I stand at the corner across the street. There’s a short line waiting to get in and a few feet away from them there’s a group of guys huddling. One of them is on the phone. I’m guessing he’s talking to a friend who’s running late. A few others are smoking and chatting, wearing only t-shirts, even though it’s February. Am I really one of them? Go ahead Henry, cross the street, give them a nod, and walk in like you own the place. I mean, it’s just a bar, and it all looks so normal. I’m not sure. I just feel better standing here, not too close.

What the hell are you doing here anyway? Ok, that’s it, you need to get your ass home! Here we go again. You’re fucking 40 years old! You’ve got kids! You have a wife!

It’s winter, 2009. Just a few months earlier everything changed when I acknowledged to my wife, Evelyn, that I was gay. It happened just days away from my 40th birthday party, the one she had been planning for months. And it happened just weeks away from a family trip to Spain. This was the trip we had all been looking forward to forever. We had my party. We went to Spain. Except for Evelyn and I, no one had a clue what we were going through. Not her mother, our children or any of her friends. Evelyn was crushed.

We spent three weeks in Spain, including New Year’s Eve in Barcelona. I went with Evelyn, our two kids and my mother-in-law. I planned New Year’s Eve perfectly. The place was off the beaten path, but not too far from Sagrada Familia. A great location. I had read about this New Year’s Eve event. It was a gathering of locals. Very authentic. We sat upstairs among several other tables that overlooked the main dining room. It was a wonderful party.

Well after midnight, as things started winding down a bit, we heard people clapping and cheering downstairs. Our daughter Evelina came running and shouting at us to look down below. Our son was getting a standing ovation for playing the piano! Evelyn looked over at me and gave me a look. Instantly, I knew what she was thinking. Since when does Alex play the piano? I shrug my shoulders. That’s what too much wine and Cava does to a 16 year old! We laughed. Who cares! It’s the new year and we’re in Barcelona!

Many months later, I’m with Evelyn looking at pictures, remembering that trip. She shares a few things. She clearly remembers Alex playing the piano that night. She also tells me about getting up and going to the ladies room over and over again. I vaguely remember that. Each time she went, she locked herself up, away from it all, where no one could see her. Alone in that bathroom, she cried. How can Henry be gay? Why is this happening to me? But she wants to be strong for us. She doesn’t want to lose it. She wants to keep it all together. Nothing is more important to her than our beautiful family.

Back at that corner across the street from Woody’s, I noticed the line getting longer. Even though I’m still living at home, I’m supposed to be gay now. We agree to live “separated but under the same roof”. She gets her nights to go out. I get mine. She calls mine, “gay night out”. I keep arguing with myself. Stick to the plan Henry. Remember? Yes, the plan. Go in, order a beer. Maybe talk to someone, anyone. Maybe make a new friend. It’s just Woody’s! It’s where the gays go in Philly. No big deal. Go on Henry, go in. I don’t know, I’m not sure. Really? No one cares, it’s okay. Go already! Nah, not tonight. Woody’s belongs to the gays, but it doesn’t belong to me.

In the parking lot I sit in my car for awhile. It’s way too early to head home. Oh, what? You don’t want to be a fag now? Too fucking bad! You are. You’re a fag! You should have figured this shit out a long time ago but you didn’t have the balls! How can you do this to her? How can you do this to Evelyn! Fucking loser! I’m exhausted. I’m tired of fighting back tears. Tired of trying to sort this out. I’m tired of arguing. I head home.

When I get back, Evelyn is surprised to see me. I’m surprised she’s still up, watching T.V. I thought gays stayed out all night?, she asked. Some do, but not this gay, I say to her. She laughs. Well, how was it? It was ok. Did you have fun? Did you meet anyone? Yeah, I had fun. I talked to a few guys, it was cool. No big deal. Babe, I’m tired. Can we talk about this tomorrow? Sure, yeah. You going to bed now? Yes. Ok, goodnight. Goodnight.

7 Comments
  • Jackie G
    August 29, 2014

    I’m a straight female, but a very strong supporter of the LGBT community. I love your blog, and I can feel the chaos and torment that your mind is/was going through, after coming out. What a blessing that your wife is supportive, as I’m sure that helps you out tremendously. I’m thinking that you are reverting back to when you initially came out, to tell your story from the beginning, as the picture on your sidebar shows you with a very handsome man, that I am assuming is your partner. At any rate, I enjoy reading your blog, and look forward to more of your stories, as you continue to “stumble out of the closet.”

    • Henry
      August 29, 2014

      Jackie,

      Thank you for you kind words and your support. Yes, with this blog I intend to tell my story from the beginning. It won’t always be in chronological order, but i do want to share what is was like for and my family. By the way, the picture in the side bar here is of my former wife, and my daughter. That handsome young man is my son!!! lol

  • Jaro
    August 29, 2014

    The confusion and the arguing back and forth with yourself is so very much a part of the process. Are you, aren’t you? How does one behave in certain situations and circumstances? The pain and turmoil and anguish. Someone asked me today if I wanted to be free of this gay business and be straight, and I think I would still, if it were at all possible. I haven’t yet got to the point of accepting myself fully as gay, though I’m getting there. I long to be able to respond to that question without hesitation “No way! I’m happy being gay.”
    Thanks for sharing. It is encouraging to read other folks experiences in this situation. I was married 40 years and for some 28 of them I was out only to my wife and we continued to live a “normal” straight life to the outside world. Weird really!

  • Mike
    August 30, 2014

    Hi Henry,

    I just saw your video on HuffPo and am taking a look at your blog. I can really identify with the anguish you are experiencing; I’m starting to come out at age 35: http://emptyclosets.com/forum/lgbt-later-life/150185-half-step.html

    You are very lucky that your wife has taken such a supportive and positive path; she really seems to see it as the beginning of a new life rather than the end of an old one.

    The part of your story that resonates most deeply for me is the uncertainty. There are many times when I am so happy to see my wife, when I want to hold her close, and when I want to have sex (though that last bit is often muddled with anxiety).

    In so many other aspects of my life, the path forward is clear. The risks are known and manageable. I can make decisions confidently. But when it comes to this issue of identity, it feels like I’m on a small boat tossing at sea, desperately looking for any lifeline.

    Anyway I will continue to follow your progress, and I wish you the best of luck.

    • Chris
      September 5, 2014

      Mike – I am in a boat that looks very similar to how you describe yours.

      You are not alone, not matter how isolating it feels.

      Stay strong.

  • Roger
    September 2, 2014

    Henry,

    Wow, this is so the situation I’m in, almost word-for-word, however it was a trip to Maui and I have a 5 and 7 year old. And I’m 51 for Christsakes! My wife has suspected that I was gay early on in our 12 year marriage and fortunately she is very supportive and is rooting me on. I’m grateful for her encouragement, it’s definitely one hurdle I’m glad I don’t have to contend with, but I have been to gay bars in the past with straight friends (they have the cheapest drinks), and I’ve always been self conscious because I was also born without a left hand. So now I find myself, a one-armed, 50-something embarking on this path. It’s hard not to feel like I’d have a better chance getting killed in a suicide bombing than actually finding someone, but I have no choice and nothing to lose. Thank you for sharing this story, it’s an inspiration.

  • Mark
    September 19, 2014

    Henry,

    I am glad your situation is working out better than mine. At age 48 I was diagnosed Hep B, I was married for 17 years, had three children and had to come out to my wife. I was living the lie when this happened I was totally unprepared. I did not handle anything well. I was open and honest and talked with my wife. She said the marriage was over, which I understood. At first I thought we would be able to work through this together. Two months later she totally rejected me and has not treated me with respect since. It was a bitter and ugly divorce. To this day she refuses to accept my apologies for what I have done. I have been through counseling and I have accepted myself as a gay man. It has been a tough road but I continue on my journey and I see a good future. Best of luck to you!

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