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Go ahead. Come all the way out.


I know several guys who are out to some people and not out to others. We all have to walk our own path, and I don’t want to be judgmental here –  but I just don’t get that.

Coming out can be tough and scary. You may be scared to death about coming out as you read this. I remember the feeling clearly. The unknowns just keep coming at you. What will people think? What will they say? Will they shun me? Will my wife shoot me? Will my kids run away from home? Will I get fired? What will my parents say?!? Egads! That’s a scary one!

Coming out when you’re no longer a sweet young thing ­– maybe after years of marriage, fatherhood and/or membership in Kiwanis – can be especially rough. All sorts of difficult things can, and sometimes do, happen. Wives sometimes become hateful. An old friend may drop you like a hot rock. Your church may throw you out on your ass. You could get fired for being gay. In most states that’s legal.

But, coming out is about living honestly – as yourself. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t out or somewhere on the path to coming out. That alone says a lot about you. It says you are brave enough to face facts and acknowledge that you can’t live with the lie any more. And that says you need to suck it up, face the shit-storm (And it may be a real doozy, honey!) and get to the other side. I was lucky that I didn’t have to deal with as much drama as some of us late bloomers do. But, I can also say this: Life on this side is so much better, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat – and maybe walk through fire this time – just to get here. No one I have ever talked to has regretted coming out.

So, if you are going to go through all this, what’s the point in stopping before you get all the way there?

I met a guy at a social event a couple of years ago. I thought he was cute and when I found out he was fluent in French (hot, hot, hot in my view) I knew I needed to see him again. It turned out that he lived with his boyfriend of several years, and the three of us went out for dinner. It was sort of awkward.

Where the evening ran off the rails, though, was when the boyfriend told me he was not out to his mother. Really? He was almost 40 years old at the time, his mother lived in a town less than 50 miles from Nashville, he had co-owned a condo with his boyfriend for two years, and he hadn’t come out to Mom. OK, fine. Whatever. But here’s where it gets crazy. Apparently his mother doesn’t know the French-fluent boyfriend even exists! (Which I find hard to believe unless she’s a total cretin. Denial is a mighty big river, toots …)  Mr. French-fluent has to make himself scarce – as in vanish from the condo – whenever the old lady is heading in that direction, and stay gone for the duration of her visit. WTF?? That is just nuts!

I’m not talking about a moral question here – honesty vs. the big lie. I’m talking about quality of life. Just thinking about the logistics of all that hiding and dodging, verbal and otherwise, makes my brain hurt. These guys have the worst of both worlds. Coming out (to some people), buying a condo with your sweetie and failing to tell your mother (who lives  a 40-minute drive away, at most) is like having gallbladder surgery and refusing to let the surgeon sew up the incision. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever heals. It just keeps on hurting.

My point: Face it down an do it. Yank out the bad tooth, stop the bleeding and start living again. No matter how much you fear the pain, or how much it hurts right now, the pain will never completely go away until you are fully out and can be fully yourself.

I know, boys, this is very, very tough advice. I resisted it for a long, long time. But it is sound advice, and I’m sooooo glad I finally followed it. Do it! Do it for yourself.

[This post is one of a number I published almost all at once in the first weeks of writing this blog in an effort to build traffic. Almost no one was paying attention back then, so I’m going to re-post some of the better – most useful, I hope – entries over the next few months.]

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 02/11/2012 9:05 AM

    I’m with you. You can’t be “kinda out”. Either your honest about who you are or you’re dishonest. Not a lot of gray area, in my opinion. And when a partner is involved, it’s an issue of respect. If you love someone, you should NEVER ask them to be your dirty little secret.

    • 02/11/2012 7:05 PM

      Agreed – with this caveat: Having taken over 50 years to come out, I’m rarely one to toss out the words “never” and “always.” There’s so much in life that is neither black nor white.

      So, with that in mind, the respect you speak of involves not only your love object, but yourself as well.

      Which gets me back to the issue of logistics and living a nightmare. (Or a sit-com. Same thing, perhaps.) Setting aside the question of honesty, who in his right mind would choose to live with that level of lunacy on a daily basis?

  2. 02/11/2012 7:55 PM


  3. dolphin permalink
    02/11/2012 11:50 PM

    I think there are valid reasons for coming out in phases. I didn’t come out to my parents for quite awhile after I was out to everyone else in my life.

    Like you said in your post, alot of bad things can and all too often do happen when you come out (though I was fortunate and didn’t have that experience). If my good friends dumped me, I could make new friends. If my family shunned me, I could make my own family from my close friends. If my job fired me, with the support of friends and family (and perhaps church), I could survive til I found a new job. But if you just jump completely out of the closet at once and all of that happens, where do you turn? You’ve got no friends, no family, no job, and no church (if that’s your thing).

    People with severe injuries will often have to have multiple surgeries on the basis that it’s too traumatic to the body to have all the needed work done at one time. The body needs to heal from the trauma of one surgery before it’s ready to deal with the next. What’s true of the physical is often true of the mental/emotional aspects of life as well. Coming out (like surgery) is ultimately good for you, but in the short term, it (like surgery) can be painful. It can certainly be worth pacing oneself to avoid taking on more than you can handle.

    • 02/12/2012 7:03 AM

      You make good points here. You always do.

      I agree. Sometimes coming out does need to be gradual – for all sorts of reasons. As I try to say often in this blog, there’s no single right or wrong way to do this. Everyone has to walk his own path. Which also true of life in general.

      The feeling I got with from the guys I had dinner with, however, is not that they were moving grdually toward a goal. I believe they condsidered this a more-or-less permanent “solution”. And it looked like a crazy-making solution to me. Plus, if this guy’s mother has a 3-digit I.Q., she already knows her son is gay.

      So I found the situatiuon sad. It has in part to do with the guy’s age. As I remember it, he was just about to turn 40. An interesting age. By the time most people hit that age, they have established “grown up” patterns of life – like never dating girls in this guy’s case. Seems like telling one’s mother about being gay would allow everyone to exhale at last, and get on with lilfe – with the obvious finally out in the open. On the other hand 40 is still awfully young (trust a 60-year-old on this point) and there are so many years of life ahead. The thought of having to hide the man I’ve chosen to buy a house with for the next 20 or 40 years sounds more painful – and complicated! – than simply staying in the closet.

      And then there’s the boyfriend who speaks French. He has to cooperate in the charade of hiding himself from his partner’s mother. In this, he permits himself to be treated as less that real. Which perpetuates the situatioin gay men and women have found themselves in for eons. Of the two, I think his is the more painful and less honest situation. Why would he let anyone – especailly the man he sleeps and shares a mortgage with – treat him this way?

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