Sunday, April 22, 2007

Closet Update

For someone who should be focusing on exams, I sure am finding more time to blog than I expected. I suppose that I can only take so much of the Federal Rules of Evidence or The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 before I need to engage in some of my blog therapy :)

I haven't talked substantively about my coming out in a while, and although nothing monumental has happened lately, I thought I might give an update. I mentioned already that I have decided to come out this year instead of next, as was my original plan. I'm not the type to make a grand gesture; no coming out party for me. But I have had the talk with a few more close friends. So far things are going well. No one has been anything but supportive.

I have noticed one thing, however. It is so much easier to come out to people that I don't know well. New and informal acquaintances seem to come easily. I think the biggest thing holding me back is I don't like to disappoint. I worry about not living up the expectations of people I am close to. Not to mention that while I am in the closet, I am constantly lying to my friends and family. The longer I lie, the harder it is to admit to it. I still don't know when I will be ready to tell my parents. When I was home for spring break it weighed heavily on me, but sadly, I couldn't find the courage.

I think the best plan will be to tell my sister first. She is the most progressive and open minded person in our family. It will be good to have an ally should things not go well with the parents. I really do love her.

6 comments:

Thoughloversbelost said...

Best to take your time and go at your own pace, in my opinion. When the time is right, it will happen without any pushing or influence from others.

I'll relate to you a quick story one of my experiences... I was in hospital recovering from orthopedic surgery about 20 years back (had joints fused due to arthritis), and my dad came to the hospital for a visit. He's the kind of person who will tell you that somebody else said something when it's really his way of trying to pump you for information. Anyway, here I am fairly doped up on pain medication (when they wore off, it felt like they were still operating), he loads me into a wheelchair, and we go out on the lawn of the hospital. He says, "I have to ask you something serious, your sister says you're a faggot... are you? Not that it matters to me." I just about fell out of the wheelchair. The best I could manage to stammer out once I picked my jaw up off the ground was "No, when did she say that?" to which he replied, "Oh, doesn't matter really." (Clue #1)

By that point, the pain medication was starting to wear off, and I was about to start begging to be taken back up to the nurse for another shot.

Years later, I'm talking to my sister on the phone (still in my 20s at the time), and she's telling me about her latest phone call with him and his typical round of rants and raves (amazing what comes out of his mouth when he's loaded to the gills with liquor), and she said "He's up to his usual crap, harping on about how you must be gay, you never date, you work in an office (according to dear old dad, working in an office is for women and faggots, real men work in factories or do manual labour... in case you're wondering, he was a firefighter), etc. I finally worked up the guts to ask her about what he said to me that night at the hospital years before. To say she was shocked would be an understatement... my sister is a real tough nut on the outside, and a real softie on the inside, and she started crying on the phone. My heart broke immediately for her... she asked if I believed what he said, I said "No, after all these years, I know how he works." Immediately followed with, "just because I am, I would never tell him when he said it in that fashion." She immediately came back with "I always knew, but it was never any of his business, I would never, I swear, say anything like that about you." That was my official coming out moment with my sister, and we've been CLOSERTHANTHIS ever since then. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years back, and she always calls or comes over to talk about her fears, etc. She has not had an easy time with it, hers is the recurring type, and when she goes on a downward trend, she falls fast and hard. She says I'm the only one who can make sense of it all for her. There's just the two of us and our Mom, and we're a tight-knit little group, but we've always looked out for each other.

(I must post the whole story on my blog sometime!)

So, when the right time arises, you'll know when and how to do it. Don't let someone else force your hand, do it on your own terms.

ThoughLoversBeLost

Pink Elephant said...

Thoughloversbelost,

Thanks for sharing that experience. I don't expect my father to do anything like that (it's actually my mother I worry about disappointing more), but it was heartwarming to see that it brought you and your sister closer. I hope it can do that for me. Your advice is well taken, however, I need to come out on my own terms.

manxxman said...

Being "different" isn't the same thing as "disappointing". Never, never think of yourself as a disappointment. Being gay is what you are not who you are. It's just a part of the bigger you.

You'll find you have lots of support on here.....we've all been there.

Thoughloversbelost said...

I agree with manxxman... I recall something said to me once by someone I admired, he said to me "who you are is a whole and complete human being, there are no flaws, no faults, just perfection".

Do NOT let people label you with some perjorative term. Remember that opinions are like butts, everyone has one and they occasionally stink.

Being the person you are, the person you were meant to be, guided by whatever system of belief you have (which is different from person to person), is all that you can do.

My Mom says that the only hope a parent has is that their children live a fulfilling life. She reminded me recently, parents want their children to have more or do better than they did.

Time to stop letter others dictate what we think or how we feel. The world has become very polarized in recent years... I hope that at some point we will give our collective heads a shake and realize that we are all in this together.

As manxxman stated so perfectly, gay is just a part of the whole you. If someone labels you gay, what else are they missing out on?

Pink Elephant said...

Thanks for your encouragement! It may be hard to clarify, but I don't think of myself as a disappointment generally, but I am aware that my parents will experience some disappointment, at least initially, upon learning I am gay. I'm not apologizing for who I am, nor do I think that objectively it makes me any less of a person. But even so, I am not looking forward to the discomfort of changing their preconceived picture of their perfect little son, even though I expect in the long run that it will become a non-issue. Eventually, they will understand that my sexuality is only one part of the complex person I am.

From talking to others, it seems pretty common to wonder after the fact why it was such a big deal to come out to parents, but on this side of doing it I still dread it. Anyway, I really do appreciate the encouragement and support I have gotten through this blog. It has gone a long way in making me more comfortable with being honest about who I am.

Jason said...

Yeah... I'll add my own experiences. The first people i came out to was teacher's while writing paper's about my experiences. SO much easier not in person and with someone I really didn't know that well.

And with my parents... the hardest thing I ever did. To tell my mother... I had to set a date and make myself do it after backing out of it time and time again. Then she freaked and forbid me from telling my father which made it even more difficult to tell him. I got close on several occasions and simply could not do it. It was so difficult.

For me... it was the vulnerability. To open yourself up, to open up a part of you that is so vulnerable and such a core part of your being, because sexuality is a core part of everyone's being, even when we don't want it to be.... leaving it in the open like that is like putting a huge bullseye on it.

And with people you don't know that well... you have noting to lose. They stop talking to you, it's not a huge deal. It's sad, but your life isn't drastically changed. But with the people you love the most, they have the power to devastate you because they are so important in your life. It always makes it so much harder.

But you just have to take it slow. I wish I could say it gets a lot easier. Maybe for some it does. But I'm self-conscious. I still get that nervous rush of adrenaline when I say the words. It's been easiest for me just to let people find out naturally... not saying, "I'm gay," but simply not hiding it and letting people figure it out.

But you'll find what works best for you and find the time that works best for you to tell people.

And about the disappointment. For many parents there is a disappointment. It's like the loss of all the dreams and hopes they had for their child, imagining them settled down with a family, happy with kids, etc. It's all gone. The child they knew and the dreams they had for them are gone. For some that is all they can ever fell, but for what I'd say is most, they start over, get to know that the child they loved is still there, the child is just not exactly as they had thought they knew them. From there they come to realize the love they feel has not gone and that the dreams they had are not gone, but that both have just changed a little.

But continued best of luck with the process.