Monday, July 2, 2007

Pride and Shame

June was Pride Month for GLBT folks (July is Pride month for all Americans!), and as I mentioned before, this year marked my first attendance at Pride Events as an openly gay person. I had been to a couple pride events in years past, but in my own mind, I attended as an anthropologist ("isn't it odd how even the fat ones take of their shirts?") not a participant.

I must say, that despite my concern that the Mardi Gras atmosphere may be counterproductive (and indeed leading to my inability to settle on whether Pride in ti's current form is good for us a "community" or not), I had a darn good time. After all, I am young; I like parties. Sure I may worry what the Fundies think of the bronzed and toned boys dancing on floats in their underwear, but in the meantime, I like looking at them. And talking to them!

It was refreshing to be around so many other gay people and supporters. Even when I was behind the table at the Log Cabin Booth, the vast majority of people who came up were very respectful, and many said something like "I'm a registered Democrat, but I still admire your courage in both the gay community and the Republican party." The whole weekend I got my taste of the relief of being out of the closet. It encouraged me to continue on this path.

But then my parents visited. Right back into the closet I went, almost subconsciously. I won't say that I am a huge projector of my sexuality (my voice is an anchorman's articulate baritone, not a femme's high-pitched lisp), but I do have a few stereotypical "tells" (crossing my legs at the knee, my choice of music), which I downplay around my parents. I didn't talk about any of my non-work friends, and even implied that I hadn't made any. The entire time they visited I could feel my face wanting to scowl, which was as much to hide any expression that may seem gay as it was a response to my discomfort.

That said, I do love my parents, and honestly I think I was more annoyed at myself than at them. Everyone who has taken the plunge tells me that it is much better on the other side of the mountain. Pride gave me my first real taste of that. Now I know more that than intellectually, I have experienced the relief of not hiding part of who I am. Nonetheless, my shame about being gay to my parents doesn't seem like it is dissipating. I found myself wondering if it was possible to be out where ever I end up and not ever affirmatively telling my parents (I determined that at some point my parents would realize that a lawyer doesn't need a "roommate," and my mother, as is her head-on way, would ask me directly). I have decided that this past visit is not the kind of relationship I want with my parents. Coming out to them is now all but inevitable. I just need to summon the strength.

Anyway, I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me so far; particularly my online friends Matt, Phil, and Jason, and my in-person friends Nick, Karen, Sean, Marcia, Alan and Allison. Hopefully I'll finish what I've started here.


Alan said...

So here's my question: what are you going to write about when you do come out to your parents? At this point, that's my biggest concern with you coming out to your parents. I'm not worried they'll abandon you, or cut you off. I'm worried that you'll have to change the name of this blog.

Totally kidding, of course. I understand that sometimes the hardest people to tell a secret is the people you love the most. As I've told you many times, we're all glad to be supporting you. Anything you need, you don't even have to ask. Be good and keep writing.

Pink Elephant said...

I hadn't thought of that. Maybe, for the sake of my readers, I shouldn't ever come out. Kidding too. Nonetheless, though I am definitely doing it, I'm not doing it like at the end of this summer or something.

I suppose I could change the name to "The Pink Elephant: Coming Out of the Other Closet." I could always blog about the reaction of people who find out I'm an Uncle Tom's Cabin Republican. I can tell you now, Boy date #1 (not 401(k); I haven't told him yet) was rather disappointed to learn that I start wars and strip mine for amusement [am a Republican]. Not to mention the whole policy debate side of my blog. Of course, people don't read those posts...

andronicus said...

Just call it "The Pink Elephant". Sayz it all.

As far as coming out is concerned, just get it done, now that you have made the decision. Promise yourself a reward, like an iPhone or something, once you tell 'em.

Icon said...

There are lotsa different perspectives on the "pride parades." Last week I marched in the Toronto Pride parade for the third time. (The view of the [boyz in the] audience is spectacular and the size of the crowd simply boggles the mind.) Now that approximately million people surely weren't all gay so there is an incredible amount of support or, at least, curiosity from the str8 community. Please don't pass on the chance to march in a parade. My group is the National Gay Pilots Assn. Our float was built upon a real airframe of a Piper J4 Cub covered in Mylar multicolored paper (not rainbow). We had two uniformed pilots in the cockpit and six go-go boyz in black shorts and cut-off uniform shirts with collars and epaulets. Our airplane was a very original concept and our dancers gave us sex appeal that was very competitive with other floats. We won an award for exhibiting the most pride spirit.

A couple of months ago, I had a perfect opportunity to come out to my flying partner. We were in Florida at a major fly-in event and were joined by a couple who are good friends of mine. During the course of conversation, by buddy asked how we three knew one another. I was very glad for the opportunity to tell him that we are members of the National Gay Pilots Assn. (Interestngly, he didn't and hasn't offered comment about that fact.) I hope that your opportunity to come out to the 'rents is so fluid and easy.