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Bigotry's insidious effects run deep


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I hope that's not a real forum post somewhere - there's no point blocking out the guy's name in green but leaving his photo clear for all to see!

He's right, though, when you're in the closet and your nearest and dearest are constantly spouting ignorant bigotry of the homophobic kind, you can almost hear the locks and padlocks snapping shut on your closet door.

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I never came out to my parents. It's possible my mom may have tried to reach me a couple of times, but I was convinced they wouldn't understand or accept it. After they'd both passed away, I agonized for a long while about that. Would they have understood? Could I have told them? But recently, I've come to realize, I don't think they really would have. Last month, I woke from a dream and, unrelated to anything, remembered a couple of events from around elementary age or earlier, I had all but forgotten. It made me realize just how much my mother, at least, had controlled and stunted my social growth, thinking she was protecting me and doing the right thing. No, nothing sexually related, but it kept me from being with other kids, and contributed to the one time we really had much of a fight, when I was a young teen. My dad did similarly, again thinking he was doing right and protecting me, and again having the effect of keeping me from natural interaction with other kids, socialization. It is no wonder I have trouble keeping friends and have hermit tendencies. It seems I was taught to withdraw or be removed from others often. Add to that a sensitive boy who would retreat into himself in his room, rather than show how unhappy he was to be teased so much at school, eyesight, sports, brainy, or hmm, calling me gay/queer, and...yeah. And yet my parents were not consciously or intentionally doing wrong, they loved me and I loved them, despite unhappiness when they'd impose limits and pull me from things. Oh, how I've come to wish I had moved out during college. But while my grandmother was sick, I came to see I couldn't have come out to her or relied on help there, such as moving in until I could have afforded my own place. All of which means...I did the best I could have after all, short of moving out with not enough money and nowhere to go, to prove my point how fed up I was. But part of me wishes I'd carried through so they would have seen how serious and how desperately fed up I was, during college. I could barely accept myself being gay, at the time, despite that I'd defended friends in high school, and despite that I knew I liked guys, was gay, during college and had plenty of indications before that. I will never understand how my parents, loving and good intentioned, so short circuited me with friends and socializing, normal kiss' and teens' stuff.

So...yeah, I can absolutely understand how a young guy could post that in a forum. I rarely ever heard specifically anti-gay things from my parents, but sex in general was barely talked about. Oh sure, my parents kissed, hugged, told each other and me they loved each other and me, but beyond that...it just wasn't there much. It didn't help that I was shy and uptight, more than they were. How much of that was in general or my personality -- or my subconscious already aware I was subtly different without knowing it much yet in actual fact, I don't know.

What's the point of my rambling? Not to whine or dig at my dead relatives. But to show how very subtle and insidious some things in our social and sexual development can be.

I knew, or believed, it was unfair even as a small boy through my teens, to be prevented like I was. I believed absolutely I couldn't tell my mom what had happened between me and another boy at 11' that my parents would've understood, and after some doubts after they'd died, I now believe I was right about them. However, I had badly needed someone to talk to, it stunted my development for years (social and emotional sexual development) all because I knew my parents would not have understood it, right or wrong. (That friend and I got in over our heads and both he and I badly screwed up. Traumatic for us both, and yes, it still bothers me. If only we'd both known more and not been such fearful idiots, it might never have gone that way.) I wish parents would teach their kids about same-sex activity as well as the opposite sex talk. But my dad and I had not had that talk either.

Messages and attitudes, subtle or overt, spoken or not, get carried over in families and every other interaction between any people.

It is not surprising a guy would post that.

There is one key difference, though. These days, teens can see on the web that there are other ways to be,. That other people do differently, and that yes, there are gay people and what that's like. That is very different from not having any idea that what you are going through is not you only.

There is a long way to go. Prejudice, bigotry, false information and attitudes and beliefs run deep.

It has got to change.

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I never came out to my parents. It's possible my mom may have tried to reach me a couple of times, but I was convinced they wouldn't understand or accept it.

My parents were always very conservative, and while I lived with the same guy for more than 15 years (before they passed away in the late 1990s), we didn't talk about gay, straight, or anything else. When I first came out in 1982, I did talk to my brother and sister, and they both said, "hey, no problem... but don't tell the folks. They're crazy." So we just had a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and everybody got along fine. They were very cordial and actually friendly to my partner, and we got along fine.

If I had sensed they would've been comfortable with it, I would've been glad to talk about it, but they weren't the type to talk about certain things. An old friend of mine from the '80s had conservative Japanese parents who were exactly the same way: they accepted his partner, they would have them both stay in the same room in their house on vacations, they were perfectly respectful and friendly... but no discussion of their relationship per se.

So being out and in somebody's face is not always desirable, especially with one's family. I never lied or pretended to be something I'm not, but I'm not going to be obnoxiously gay if it makes people uncomfortable. Not a big deal to me.

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This kind of discussion never came up in our household, over who was partnering with who. Sometimes there was a private discussion about what was going on behind closed doors. hand.gif However, much was said about making sure everyone was protected, both physically, and the adults who were together, by legal contracts and Powers of Attorney, as my parents live in a state that will never... I mean never vote for gay marriage.

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