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Role Models – handle with care


How could anyone get anywhere without someone to look up to? We all have role models as we grow up and move along life’s path. Some are positive, some not. Some inspire us for a lifetime, some get dropped and others picked up as we mature or change directions. Some fall by the wayside of their own accord.

Those of us who come out late need role models. We are beginning a new life at mid-life. Getting up to speed, gaining perspective on ourselves and our new life is pretty damned important! Good role models are essential.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last several days because a couple I’ve known since before coming out, and who were very helpful to me as I made my journey outward, are splitting up. They were role models. This wasn’t their choice; I set them up as such. And news of their separation knocked me right off my pins for a day or two. Their “perfection” both as a couple and as individual men seemed damaged in some way. It hurt to think about it.

So … I had to think about it.

And I’ve come to a few conclusions – perhaps not complete – but serviceable for the moment.

One: Most of the turmoil I was feeling was about me, not them. They were, are, and always will be, good men. They are splitting up because they have been honest with each other and concluded the relationship was not working. They’ll be better off as friends, not faking something that had ceased to exist. Sad as it is – and they have both told me they feel great sadness – they are moving ahead with their lives. I, on the other hand, was sitting here feeling stuck and abandoned.

Two: All these “about me” feelings were pretty unattractive. One emotion in this mix was jealousy. While I admired them, I was also a little jealous. They were knock-out handsome (still are of course), financially successful, had a great house, entertained beautifully, and had this “perfect” relationship. I wanted that for me. And I was jealous. On top of that, I have detected a touch of selfish anger. Never mind them, news of the breakup made me feel sad. I didn’t want this to happen. I felt abandoned. It took me nearly a day to bring myself to the point of considering the pain each of these good, kind-hearted men must be feeling as they ended their long-term partnership. So there I was, jealous, angry and completely self-absorbed. Not good, David! I had work to do.

Three: I had idealized these guys as a perfect couple, and perfection never exists in the real world. So, what do I do with that? Get real and recognize there is a great deal still to admire, both in who they were – a great couple who did it “right” for a long time – and in who they still are. In coming apart gracefully, with kindness toward each other, they continue to do it right. And this time, I’m admiring reality, not some fantasy of perfection I’d built for myself.

So, I think I’m right-side up again. Still admiring both these guys for all the goodness they embody. Able to work on myself and continue to grow up. And able, I hope, to help them move to a new phase, just as they helped me several years ago.

And about role models? Yep, get yourself some. Coming out late, coming out at any age – Heck! Just living a life, gay, straight, whatever – requires role models. So this applies to all of us human beings. Find the good models, and – here’s the key, folks – love them enough to let them be human – just like the rest of us.

Feeling much better now! Thanks for letting me share.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. courtney permalink
    09/12/2010 3:14 PM

    love it!

    • 09/12/2010 3:21 PM

      Thanks. Hard one to write, but I always feel better for having made the effort.

  2. Joe Branham permalink
    09/15/2010 1:27 PM

    Great piece– and not ever easy to acknowledge unlikable feelings within yourself. And feel free to have Tom & I as your backup! 😀

    • 09/15/2010 1:31 PM


      On both counts.

      Life is really great these days, but I may need that back-up. You never know.

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