Keep it to yourself!!

By Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12 Permalink 15

I was at a business dinner when one of our clients leaned in toward everyone at the table as our waiter walked away. “Damn he’s pretty! I bet he’s the woman! I hear if you’re the bottom it hurts like hell!” Bahahaha! Another guy at the table chimed in. “Really?” “How the fuck do you know so much about that?” “Is there something you want to share?” Fuck you! Hahahaha! Everyone starts laughing. Except me. I bury my face in the menu and pretend not to hear.

I do lots of these dinners. Sometimes a woman is part of the group, but it’s mostly middle-aged married men. Too often the conversation ends up being about gays, faggots, queers or some guy bending over. I’ve learned how not to laugh along without raising suspicions.

I watched a news report not long ago about whether gays should be allowed to participate in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. One guy was really mad. You know, I don’t give a shit what they do, just don’t shove it in our faces? They should keep to themselves and it wouldn’t be such a big fucking deal! It’s not right, he adds. People bring their kids to these things!

During a lunch with my 14 year old daughter’s basketball team some parents got to talking about someone we all thought might be a coach. He’s 35, never married. I heard he’s never had a girlfriend. What’s up with that? She lowers her voice. Maybe he’s, you know? That comment triggered a memory about a boy I knew in Middle School. Everyone teased him for throwing like a fag, talking like a fag and walking like a fag.

I’ve been stumbling out of the closet for the past six years. I was married for nearly 14 and I’m still raising two kids. I’m 45 now. It’s really not the time to be figuring this out. Everyone I’ve told so far has been extremely supportive but sometimes I still fight it. Shame does that.

So, to all those men and women who’ve had the courage to live openly authentic lives, thank you. Thank you for being real and paving the way. I could have been here sooner, but I hope you’ll have me. And I just hope it’s not too late for me to join the fight.

  • Don McGaw
    August 19, 2014

    Asa psychotherapist working with the LGB population for nearly 45 years I have learned, and teach my clients, coming out means dealing with your own inner homophobia. Once that is accomplished you are out but most important: FREE! It is not an easy path to walk down — that is dealing with inner homophobia — but well worth the walk!

  • bgix
    August 19, 2014

    I’m not gay, but of course like everyone else, often hear the old chestnut: “Why do they (“the gays”) have to throw it in everyone’s faces”. There is the obvious irony of course that straights have not only been making out, but engaging in other “Public Displays of Affection” as simple as holding hands since for just about forever.

    What strikes me though, is the common practice (especially among men) of making gay jokes. Things like the “I bet he’s the woman” comment mentioned above. Because OF COURSE these comments will be made by exactly the same people that will complain about gay couples being seen rather than merely existing. I can handle PDAs (within reason — no dry humping or tonsillectomies please) from any couples… but the open hypocrisy of making jokes (and calling attention to their perceived gayness) at peoples expense while insisting on their public anonymity gets to me.

  • Larry Benjamin
    August 20, 2014

    You’re welcome. I never came out because I was never “in.” I only ever knew how to be myself. I wisdh you luck with your struggle.

  • david struder
    August 20, 2014

    I say “welcome to the family,” and I do so with open arms. I can pass on a little advice … it’s never too late to live a more open, authentic life. I learned that in the 80’s when I came out – twice! LOL. The first time I tried I was living in my conservative hometown in VA. Wow, talk about a stumble – it was more like a fumble! The second time I tried it was 1985, during the height of the AIDS crisis. The actor Rock Hudson had died, and gay people were being viewed rather negatively, to say the least. Thankfully, though, I was living in a more liberal environment in DC, and I was determined to succeed the second time. Almost 30 years later, when looking back, I am so glad I succeeded. In a way, I saved my myself, now realizing that the closet is a dark, cold place. So, please remember … it’s never too late, and I sincerely hope my comment helps you with your journey.

  • Henk Siegers
    August 20, 2014

    Of course you’re welcome. For me it’s hard to understand why it would be difficult to come out, I actually never had any problems around me with me being gay, but it’s also very natural to me. Maybe that shows to other people. I’ve always been me, Would find it extremely difficult to be married to a woman knowing you are gay.
    anyway, good luck with the rest of your life…just don’t know make too much of a thing about it. You’re a person who likes men, that’s it. But besides that, you’re much more than that, it’s just a part of you.

    (i’m dutch, it’s very easy to life here as a gayman)

  • Frank Hilton
    August 23, 2014

    I discovered men at age 31 while married with two children. Coming out to my wife was difficult but the right thing to do. After 6 years we separated and I found Alan, the man I wanted to share my life with. That was 33 years ago. Alan became good friends with my wife and a second father to my children. Now my grandchildren have two grandfathers.
    Coming out is the right thing for you to do for yourself and your family. When you do it, it is surprisingly easy.

  • Laura
    August 23, 2014

    My friend is in the closet fearful of judgment and it hurts me to see her hide. I respect her choice as I have other gay friends on either side of the door. I too refuse to join discussion that ridicule or belittle sexual orientation but I speak up most of the time because I am not ‘different.’

    Ridicule and name calling are the domain of the bully and when presented with the idea that it could easily be their brother/sister or even mom or dad (or themselves!) most subside and change the subject. I wish I could say they learn but I’m not quite Pollyanna.

  • Louise
    August 25, 2014

    I am a hetero female and have been appalled my whole life about mean comments made toward gay men and lewd ones about gay women This in my experience is just hetero males that are weirdly insecure about it in men and male pigs regarding lesbian women. I’ve never really heard women say anything about it other than so what.

    I don’t want to consider what anyone does in bed gay or straight. Its more important to know if you are kind, fun, smart, etc. Why should people have to go through such emotional torment over a non issue that’s nobody’s business

    I’m proud of you for cutting through the conditioning of our society, because of your actions people will someday no longer have to feel shame when they have done nothing wrong.

  • colleen
    August 26, 2014

    Hi! Thank you for writing :) i really admire you for coming out to your wife and family. It’s not an easy thing for a lot of people to do, so, please keep writing.. Hopefully the message of love and care you have for your self will open people’s hearts to do the same… There is always room for love <3 i think my generation will speak differently about people with different sexual orientations and genders.. At least i'm going to do my part to help make it happen. Peace & love.

  • Jen
    September 2, 2014

    A little younger than you, and childless, but similar nonetheless. I found myself married to a man and realising i was gay. I’m now 3 years past the first moment of realisation, and i’ve been separated for nearly 2 years, and i’m in my second wonderfully fulfilling relationship. You can be out and proud, and when you get there you will be so happy. But maybe the inner happiness has to come first – because then any comments, homophobia, jokes, don’t bother you – because you know it’s their problem, not yours. Well done on your bravery so far. You’ll get to where you need to be, when you need to.

  • emily
    September 19, 2014

    Shame is very powerful when we harbor fear. You have done so much for yourself. Please continue to be good to yourself and when you feel shame, remind yourself that you and your wife had an authentic relationship. You loved her. At the time you chose to get married, you did the best thing you knew to do at that time. Bring compassion to yourself and understand that you are one of many gay men with a fluid sexuality. Check out lisa diamond’s speech at Cornell from Oct. 2013 for more information on how men are about just as fluid as women.

  • Debra D
    November 3, 2014

    Oh Henry…I applaud your courage to publish your personal reflections on your journey. And I echo the sentiment above — welcome to the rainbow family! I’m grateful your wife and kids have been accepting. Everyone’s path to self acceptance is unique. How ironic you and I met when I was the out lesbian face of WYBE. My partner and I are together 21 yrs now, but I have often reflected on my last (of several) serious relationships with men in college and how I could have ended up in a marriage and had similar struggles as you. Take care and keep writing!

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