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I get by with a little help …

06/21/2010

… from my friends.

Ringo had it right. So did the Divine Miss M. Everybody needs a few friends to get by.

Once I finally decided I was really gay – not some sort of semi-un-straight other thing – and I would have to get unmarried and go out there on my own, several things hit me at once. One was a huge sense of relief. I can stop holding my breath now! Another was a surprisingly strong desire to tell important people, like my sons, and do it right away.

Another was: Holy s**t! What on earth do I do now?

It’s one thing to search and struggle to find your true self. Check. Done that. It’s entirely another to start being your true self – especially after years of not being.

About two-and-a half years ago, I was sitting in my shrink’s office, knowing I was gay without a clue as to how to be gay, and about to come unglued. Brilliant man that he his, my shrink suggested connecting me with a guy he knew on a social basis who had come out at the age of 50, leaving a wife and daughter in the process. What a life-saver this guy turned out to be! I had someone to talk to and ask all sorts of really basic questions – about bars, about dating, about ex-wives, about self-help books, about – umm – hygiene. About everything. It’s not that I didn’t know any gay men, or that I hadn’t heard about all this stuff ­– sorta. It’s just that it had never applied to me. Now, quite suddenly, it did. And I needed someone to talk to. Someone who knew what I was going through.

So if you’re coming out – and especially if you’re a late bloomer – you need a friend/mentor/guide, or two. Or three. Four wouldn’t hurt. Luckily I came across several in the early months of being out and each of them has been a huge help – each in a somewhat different way. None of them has turned into a boyfriend. But each is a good friend.

And let me emphasize this: only one of these guys – the one my therapist connected me with ­– is a late bloomer. The rest are just an assortment of gay men – some of whom I’d known for years, others are new friends – who have been non-judgmental and generous with their time and wisdom.

So, where do you find a bunch like this? Well, a good starting point is your therapist. If you don’t have a therapist, stop right this minute and go get one! Or join a support group. Or something! This journey – before and after coming out ­– is not for sissies, nor is it to be undertaken without help.

After that, look around. Are there gay men at your church, or your synagogue or wherever you hang your spiritual hat? If not, find a another one. (Actually there are gay men at your church or wherever, and if you don’t see them it’s because they aren’t out yet. We have to let people stay in until they are ready to come out, so in the meantime, find a new place to hang your spiritual hat.)

There are AIDS related non-profits in most cities and larger towns. You can go volunteer – and find a mentor at the same time.

Does a gay man cut your hair? Umm … probably a better than even chance of that. Are there gay men among casual your acquaintances? Or among your extended family? Be certain they are out and comfortable with being out, and then don’t be afraid to ask. I’ve found that if you present yourself honestly, as someone seeking counsel and nothing else – and not, not, not as some sort of whiney basket case – most will be honored you asked. Remember, he doesn’t have to be a late bloomer. That can help, but it isn’t necessary. We’ve all been there – no matter at what age.

And another thing: When you’ve made it through the roughest times, be alert for someone to whom you can lend a hand. It will be good for your karma. We are all in this together.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. nanci Reese permalink
    06/21/2010 5:36 PM

    Dear David,
    I am so glad you are bring up spirituality stuff and service stuff and go volulunteeer at an AIDS place. That is so great that your therapist could guide you to the right person. And most important you are doing for somebody what you needed done for you- you had it done for you but not in a blog. etc. Love, Nanci

  2. 06/21/2010 6:57 PM

    Keep reading and commenting. I love it.

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