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Peeking out of the closet

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Hi, everyone. Blue did something important today. Blue told someone he's...*gay.* -- I didn't get killed or told to get lost or told I'd burn in hell.

Actually, it wasn't entirely voluntary. The friend, my minister, in a counseling session, asked a question that I couldn't bring myself to wiggle out of. Counseling session? Yes. A bunch of things were dumped in my lap all at once, a while back, nothing I could do anything about and not my fault. But it was all new at once. Add that to a guy who's barricaded himself in the ole metaphorical closet, and stir.

Well, it turns out I'm still welcome at church. That happens to be an important part of my life, so I'm relieved in many ways. (I'm not in the ministry, but several relatives are, part of my closet problem.)

It looks like there may finally, finally be a way for me to come out gradually and safely, and integrate this intimate part of me with the rest of me. Oh, God, I hope so. -- I am not going to run out and tell everyone I know, even though I've wanted to for a long time. Some of my family will not accept this. Some friends may not. Some church members may not. I'm not rushing into things, here. I'm not going to do anything stupid or unsafe. I'm here for the duration.

I've been in the gay/artsy/alternative part of town (big city, actually) but never to explore. I'm sorta out of practice. I kinda doubt you can use the same approach as the ones that worked in school, not that that happened as often as I would've liked. I was too busy being confused or in denial, most of the time. Or do things work the same way? See, told ya I was out of practice.

I would like to say a very BIG THANK YOU to everyone here and on Hoodster's lj (and a few people on another board who are openly GLBT). Thanks to you all, I had the chance to talk to guys and grrls who were out or closeted. Thanks to the freedom of press and freedom of speech on the web, I had the chance to learn real information and check out stories and, yes, images, and talk to people. That showed me what I felt and thought and what I've been through wasn't as...alone...as I'd thought. Sometimes, it has been discouraging to see how common some of the negative things are. Sometimes, it has been really great to see that other people like me are not all the negative things that people who don't understand claim about...us. Us.

Us. That 10% thing. That's the problem. Who is, who isn't? Still have to be careful. That whole "gaydar" thing, too bad it's not that easy. But there are a few people I know of whom I can probably ask a discrete question or two. That first question's a doozie, though. Big leap of faith.

Uh-oh. Is there a way you can ask a friend, someone you've known a while, politely, if they're gay. Is it as simple as, "(Name), if I'm out of line, I'm sorry, but...are you gay?" -- When I was in school, I never felt like anyone who asked that was really sincere. They always, always seemed like they were baiting me. I'd hope I'd know if someone was genuinely caring about the answer. Hmm. Hope I didn't disappoint anybody back then.

Well, any advice?? Some of you guys are more used to this whole thing.

Little help, here? -- Jeez, I feel silly.

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Uh-oh. Is there a way you can ask a friend, someone you've known a while, politely, if they're gay. Is it as simple as, "(Name), if I'm out of line, I'm sorry, but...are you gay?" -- When I was in school, I never felt like anyone who asked that was really sincere. They always, always seemed like they were baiting me. I'd hope I'd know if someone was genuinely caring about the answer. Hmm. Hope I didn't disappoint anybody back then.

You know, I was always one of those "100% straight-acting" kinda guys, to the point where I heard way too many "fag" jokes throughout my teen and adult years. I guess my disguise was a little too good. Only when I hit my 40s did I get to the point where I could glare at the joke-teller and say, "hey, some of us don't think that's too funny, y'know?" That usually shuts 'em up real quick, and it leaves them guessing as to whether I'm just gay or politically correct.

Me personally, I never asked any of my gay friends if they were or weren't. But when I finally came out about 22 years ago -- more than half my lifetime ago -- those were the guys I came out to first. All of them were happy for me and said, "hey, congratulations! I guess you know I'm gay, too," and we got past it that way. (A few of them were kinda shocked that I had figured out which way they were, and I laughed and said, well, either you don't hide it as well as you think, or my gaydar is better than average.) These guys took me out to clubs, showed me the gay neighborhoods, and clued me in as to what was what. "Gay 101," so to speak. Always nice to have a navigator in uncharted waters.

But there's no easy way to just ask somebody a personal question like that. Hell, this kind of thing can get you fired, if you do it at work. I'd say, if they're good friends of yours, just start by telling 'em about yourself. My line was, "I've been going through some changes lately, thinking about my life and figuring a few things out, and I finally came to terms with being gay." Or words to that effect. If they're really your friends, there won't be a problem. If they're gay, you'll find out quickly. If they're not, you both can get past it, and make it clear that you don't care either way.

I gotta say, though, there were at least two or three friends of mine who I thought were close enough to tell. After I came out, I guess they were uncomfortable about it; they sorta stopped calling, stopped hanging out with me, and our friendship sorta fizzled out. They weren't ever hostile, like if I bumped into them somewhere, but they weren't exactly friendly either, and things weren't ever the same. As far as I'm concerned, that was their problem and not mine. I was disappointed, but I got over it as time went on.

I don't know your age range, but in my case (early 20s at the time), I was careful who I told, particularly at the workplace. I've been a little more casual with it more recently, simply because it's a different time now. Besides, I live and work in LA, where there's a sizable gay population, and a good percentage of the entertainment business is either gay or "metrosexual." You might want to exercise caution, and be careful who you tell and how you do it. The important thing is, don't make a big deal of it. Make sure your friends understand, this is only *part* of who you are -- not necessarily your whole reason for existance.

As I told my brother and sister, "I'm still the same jerk I always was... it's just that now you know one more thing about me you didn't know before."

So I was like 23-24 when I finally took the plunge. As far as I'm concerned, it's never too late to accept the truth about yourself. The sooner you can do it, I think the more well-adusted you can be, and then you can eventually deal with how to fit it into your life.

Oh, one last thing: I don't buy the "10%" thing. The Kinsey scale goes from about 1 to 6, with one end being totally straight, and the other end being totally gay. I think there's probably 25% of the whole male population that would be capable of having gay sex under the right circumstances, but probably only about 5% who'd be comfortable enough to do it on a regular basis. Don't forget, some of the most hostile, homophobic jerks out there are the ones that are up a notch or two on the Kinsey scale, but are too frightened or ashamed to admit it.

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Congratulations, Blue!

They say even the longest journey starts with a single step. And you have made it.

As for coming out of the closet... for most of us it a gradual thing and it isn't for everybody, but it gets easier each time. And everytime we come out to a friend or family member we put a human face on being gay to one more person... which in turn makes it easier for the next guy.

All the best,

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Thanks for talking plain sense, Pecman.

I'd appreciate anyone else's advice on the whole coming out situation.

Yeah, I should've realized, from my own insecurities, that it makes a little more sense to tell someone about yourself, and just let it be another part of yourself, not hitting on them or waving a flag or anything. -- And yes, I did mean so that I could reveal it in order to ask for information, guidance. -- At the moment, I'm just trying to think this through, anyway. I mean, a couple of the folks I'll talk to are lesbians. It should be interesting to find out if they figured me out. (Heh, feels nice to be able to find some humor in this.)

My 20th high school reunion is coming up. No, I'm not gonna stand up on a table and shout out.

Caution? I've been in the closet all this time. I'm not about to throw caution to the winds, even if part of me would love to. I want more than that, I want to be integrated and happy and proud about who I am.

-----

Oh! Hey, Dude! Just saw you'd posted while I'm writing this reply. Thank you!

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Hi Blue

wanted to say it a good step that you made

and support you

I agree with Pecman on the 10% thing

i know too many in a smaller area to believe that

but back to you, i'm proud you took the step

and wish you well

just take small step and it will get better as time

goes alone

if you need to ask anything just pm me, i will get

it

Movieguy

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One last bit of advice, Blue: The most important thing I had to get over was that I didn't have to change who I was to accept being gay.

I know that sounds weird, but I guess I couldn't reconcile the kinda guy I am with what I thought a gay person was "supposed" to be. Looking back (and remember this was like 1982 or so), maybe it seems lame and ridiculous, but it took me a long time to finally realize, just because the gay people I saw on TV shows and movies or encountered in life were one way, didn't mean I had to be exactly like that. Part of my problem was, the first couple of years I lived in LA, a friend of mine was a screaming over-the-top queen, and it took me awhile just to get past him.

But once I did, I was pretty secure in it, and I felt nothing but relief. I swear, I bet that most of the neuroses and fears and just plain nuttiness that most gay people suffer from was totally caused by their years in the closet. The sooner you can ease yourself out of it, the better off you'll be.

Good luck, dude, and hang in there.

--Pecman

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@ movieguy -- Thank you, I appreciate that. Your online "accent" is nice too. :)

@ Pecman -- I don't *think* that's an issue with me, but I've been a little surprised at a realization or two I've had recently. I'm making some progress, at least inside myself.

These may seem obvious, but here goes, personal realizations:

1. gpaulbishop's post made me face a really tough one: How do I reconcile my feelings and personal beliefs with my religious beliefs? And related, what if family or friends reject me?

Well, I'm pretty sure God knows the truth about me better than I do. I've had problems, but I keep making it somehow and things seem to get better eventually. And faced with seeing one of my worst fears happen in someone else's life, I find that I cannot believe that God would condemn someone for being gay. So I disagree with Leviticus and with Paul's words in Romans. (I don't know how other faiths view homosexuality, and I don't mean to start a religious discussion, because I've seen how those can turn into arguments and "flame-wars" in forums.)

2. Somehow, I was mostly OK with others being gay, although it might make me uncomfortable. I was less OK with the idea of *me* being gay. This is despite that I've spoken up for friends and for the idea since (at least) high school. I hope I've learned to get past that little bit of egocentricity. I've also realized I needed to unbend a little about the whole issue, and let it be OK for me to relax about some of the different things out there. And just when the heck did I get more uptight about some things than I was in high school or college? It's silly.

-- By the way, several story authors have helped with that, due to what they've written. I'd list names, but I'm sure I'd leave out someone important.

Anyway, that's what I've got for now.

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Hey Blue,

I'm certainly no expert on coming out. I'm only out to two people myself, a gay friend I've known since childhood and my lesbian cousin. I would have to reiterate what the others have said, take it slowly, one step at a time. I think you are wise to use caution, especially, at this stage.

I'm nearly 38 years old and I only "accepted" my sexuality last November 30th. I say that because, like you, I really had no problem with other people being gay or lesbian. It was pretty much their business as I saw it. I couldn't accept myself being anything other than straight though. I fought a very long time against my thoughts and feelings and I was miserable until I finally admitted to myself that I was bisexual. (Yeah, I know, I've heard all the bisexual jokes and stereotypes and such but I've learned to deal with that.) I do love the ladies, I guess I always will and now I can say I also love the guys. There's nothing wrong with that, it's who I am. I felt bad for years because of it but now I'm trying to move forward with my life. It ain't always easy, either, but it is getting better.

Again, friendships will be made in time and hopefully you'll find the guy that is just right for you. Think through your thoughts and don't rush anything.

Wishing you the very best,

Johnny

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I changed my sig today, 2004-11-14. I had thought I'd keep the old signature line until I was fully out, as a reminder of where I've been. But now, I just feel it needs to change. I'll settle on a new sig soon.

Several people said they thought my old sig was an important question. So I am posting it here:

Blue - Joined: 2004-07-03;

If you knew I'm in the closet, would you: 1. Run away? 2. Still be my friend? 3. Join me in here? 4. Gently give me the courage to join you out there?

I came out Wednesday, 2004-08-11, and posted that news after midnight, so it shows as Thursday, 2004-08-10.

I am still coming out and still adjusting. I finally feel like I've turned the corner or am about to. Several friends now know I'm gay. One said, "That makes sense." Another stumbled just enough that I knew he'd guessed before. For another, it didn't matter at all. So far, no one has freaked out and rejected me. I am thankful for that, and I know it will be hard when that happens. I haven't told any of my family yet. But I feel, for my own peace of mind, that the people I care about most need to know, as a matter of personal integrity and for my safety and so that I don't have to hide. I have been in the closet long enough, too long, as it is.

Maybe you have noticed my recent posts are a little more militant about it. I think that is me trying to get used to the idea of beng out and psych myself up for the changes it will bring to my life. Maybe you've noticed some of my older posts waffle back and forth or go in circles. Maybe you've noticed I write very personally. I have held all this in so long, and for now, this is one of my few outlets to express myself.

I think I turned a corner this past week, thanks to some good advice from a few friends, some good reading, and enough time and rest to think it through.

Some of you have seen me at my most confused and discouraged. You've also seen me at my best, the real me online, the me I want to be. At last, I think I am even starting to be that me in person. It's been a long time since I felt that way, and even longer since I hid one side of me in the closet. Now at last, you'll get to see the whole of me, online and in person.

That feels *good.*

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congrats blue!

i send you a humongous hug and lots of love and let me just say that i'm so glad that you're gaining confidence and finding acceptance within your friends and yourself.

i wish you'd never had to struggle through any of this, but lets hope it gets much easier from here on out. good luck with your family, and i hope it goes better than you think it will.

more hugs,

gaby

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First to you Blue, I would say I?m glad your slowly making steps forward. Even the smallest step is a positive thing. Don?t be influenced by anyone but your own inner feelings. Take your time, be comfortable with yourself first, then move from there. The amazing thing is if you someday totally come out? you will look back a few months later and say? WOW that wasn?t so horrible? I should have done it 10 years ago. But again follow your heart and your gut? do what YOU feel comfortable with. I would tell any one this. But I do give you a warm hug and tell you I am proud of your achievement... I hope you are just as proud, you deserve to feel good about it and I hope U do.

Coming out is such a personal yet also such a universal experience in gay life. Everyone has their own set of tales that go along with it (from tragic and sad, to hilarious and crazy) there are so many variations on the theme because of our differences, yet it?s a uniting factor within the community. My editor AJ and fellow AD member put it so well when he said it?s one of the first topics of conversation every gay person has with another. ?Are you out?? and ?How did you come out.?

Even when one is totally and completely out it seems like a never ending process depending on how one?s life unfolds. I have been out for what seems like forever, yet even after years of being publicly gay I find that I end up coming ?out? as my life circumstances change.

Starting a new job, or school, meeting new people (especially ones who are starting to become friends), moving to a new part of the world? it seems that every time this has happened I once again ?come out.? I?m sure my experience isn?t that unique for anyone else who is out, even those of us who have been so for a long time.

A few months ago when I first started my university job, I was approached by a colleague who had brought a female friend with her to a small ?yet acquainted? get-together my department hosted. A few days later this colleague approached me and asked if I was ?with anyone.? Of course I knew where the conversation was headed ? her female friend had taken a fancy to me and wanted to know if I was available. At that point I had a few choices: I could say yes I was currently with someone and leave it at that or I could say that I had a ?partner? (and maybe she would make her own conclusions) or I could do what I choose to do and told her that ?yes I have a great boyfriend.? After telling her, she simply smiled and said ?I guessed someone as nice as you would have someone with someone.? Damn what a compliment? I beamed all day I have to admit. Since then this colleague and I have gotten along wonderfully and are at the very least ?workplace friends.?

And while fear is often the biggest factor in deciding to or not to come out. I would tell anyone that bottom line is that truly coming out is the best for one?s sanity. Without going into great detail, my own coming out as a young gay guy to my family was terrible? on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being the worst) I?d have to rate it a -52! My father passed away never reconciling the fact that I was gay and I ended up leaving the family home at 18 ? only returning infrequently. Over the years my brothers and other family members accepted me, but I did what many gay people of my era did ? I constructed my own family.

Today coming out is a bit different (thankfully). Yes there are still ultra-conservative families and people who will give you a hard time? but it is a bit easier today and more accepted. AND there are lots more groups, and organizations willing to help and offer support.

The surprising thing is when you tell a person you are gay and they say? ?well, I guessed or suspected.? That?s happened to me so many times? and the cool thing is in this modern world it?s rarely mattered. Sure there is still some serious bigotry out there, but it?s not what it used to be. And as others have said, the amazing thing is while you may seem to change in others eyes (but not the ones who truely love you) will won't have changed one bit yourself - other then feeling better about who you are.

I don?t push any of you to come out, but I tell you that you lives will be for the better after you do (if for to no one else but? YOURSELF! And your piece of mind).

Have I experienced some pain, sadness and rejection in coming out ? yes! Would I have maybe done some things differently ? of course. Do I regret coming out when I was 18 and being openly gay ? NO NEVER!!!

Have courage, have faith and have conviction. There will be those who won't under stand you or even hate you for what you are without ever really knowing you. But there are many many more who will like you, admire you and yes even love you for being who you really are. Not to mention the guy who looks back at you every day in the mirror.

Love

Jamieoficaria

(for some reason I was able to log on but the system wouldn't let me post under my user name!)

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