In and Out
A Gay Opinion 8/99
by R.A. Melos
Okay, as I've reread some of this, it is apparent I made my being outed sound much easier than it was or is. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still coming out. The process isn't an easy one, but self acceptance is one of the main obstacles to true happiness. Most of us don't accept ourselves as we are, whether we're talking about sexual orientation or looks. Let's face it, when you compliment someone on their hair, the first response is almost always a thank you, followed by a "do you really like it?" Or a "I didn't think it came out well." We are insecure about our looks, and many of us are also insecure about our sexuality.
At the time I was outed, by Mr. Right, I was secure enough about my looks. In fact, I've always been secure about my looks, it was my sexuality which frightened me. Yes, I say frightened. I was, as I've said, raised in a very small and small-minded town. While growing up, I heard people talk about "homos" and "gays" and "fags", and I didn't even know what these terms meant, but I knew they couldn't be good from they way the grownups used these words.
By the time I was in grade school, probably about first or second grade, kids would call each other "fags" or "queer" in an insulting way. I know I didn't know the meaning of the words back then. I believe it wasn't until somewhere around seventh or eighth grade, during what was then called Sex-Ed class, when the term "homo" was completed with "sexual" for the first time, and all we were told was they were sexual deviants who were attracted to people of the same sex. Now remember, this was 1976, and I was in a town where people still thought with a 1950s "Father Knows Best" or "Donna Reed" mentality.
All I knew was, I had feelings which classified me as a "sexual deviant", and I obviously had to keep this to myself. While growing up I heard my family talk in whispers about the "gays" and how they could never accept one in their family. Now, at 11 years of age, I knew if my family ever found out what I was they would disown me. So, from 11 until 34, I did my best to hide it from my family.
I really believed my parents would throw me out, and I would lose all those friends who I thought were so important to who I was and where I was going with my life. I now know those friends meant nothing to me, and weren't really my friends. At least, the ones who did abandon my friendship when they found out I was gay weren't true friends.
Anyway, throughout high school I struggled to fit in, and faked it as best I could when it came to being out with friends. I kind of hung out with those who were anti-everything. We were a group of apathetic people whose life slogan was "whatever". We didn't care about anything out there because everything could hurt us, and if we pretended not to care, then all those who would want to hurt us couldn't hurt us since we didn't care and they knew we didn't care.
Okay, so deep down we did care, and their cutting remarks did hurt, but we
wouldn't let them know we were hurt. We ignored and, on some occasions, tried
to fit in. Proms, graduation, homecomings, all those events, which as an adult
I realize aren't all that important, made me feel queasy and depressed because
I knew deep down in my heart I wasn't being true to myself, but was trying to
live my life for strangers who didn't give a damn whether I lived or died as
long as I didn't do either when they were doing something important for themselves.
After high school I attended college, and still didn't fit in, because I was terrified someone would find out I was gay. I guess I started to come out a bit back then because I got involved on campus with what later became known as "AIDS Awareness", an event to promote safe sex and educate people to the problems of all sexually transmitted diseases. I guess this was my way of being slightly open, and still being closeted.
I skipped in and out of college like a revolving door, trying to find some easier way of existing, but none came into play. I had, internally accepted myself as a gay man a long time ago, but I was still closeted to the world, and had all plans to remain so. I figured, as I've said before, I would just wait until my parents died and then move away and live my life as I please.
In 1989 my father died. I think he knew I was gay, because he once found a video tape hidden in my room. I lied and told him it was a joke gift for a girl who was turning 18, and we all thought it would be funny to give her a male stripper video. I knew he didn't believe me, but he covered well. Anyway, he was dead, I was 26 and still a virgin. (Anyone snickering will be asked to leave! Besides, I was saving myself. Oh, never mind!)
One week later I attended a party with some friends, one of whom told me he once "messed around" with another guy. I had been drinking, and got up the nerve to suggest to him he let me do something I wanted to try, just to see if I liked it. I admit, it was interesting, but I didn't really like it, due to the alcohol which was having a really bad effect on me. At that point in my life I stopped drinking to the extent I had been, and eventually got to the point where I maybe have one or two drinks a year.
Drinking was a large part of my teen years and early 20s, especially between
the ages of 18 to 26. All of my friends drank heavily, if you consider being
able to down a couple six-packs and a pitcher of Red Death (that's a combination
of Alabama Slammers and Kamikazes, and for the nondrinkers it's really not your
best choice if you plan on starting to drink), heavy drinking.
Giving up drinking when you don't have a problem with it isn't a real challenge, and I never liked it anyway since I always felt terrible the next day. Why make myself feel physically ill, when all I needed to do to make myself feel sick was think about living alone for the rest of my life fearing my family would hate me? I reasoned.
I'll skip the details of meeting Mr. Right. If you're interested go back and read the first entry, called Awakening. Suffice it to say, he outed me to my mother, and the transition from straight son to gay son was made. It wasn't and easy transition. I know I may have made it sound easy, but it took a couple years of hearing my mother cry every night because she felt like a failure.
No son wants to make his mother feel like she failed, but no matter what I told her, she thought of herself as a failure, because that was the mind set of her generation. Since I was an only child this meant no grandchildren, not that she ever made any effort prior to the revelations of my sexuality to hint at being a grandmother. My mother is a good mother, but not someone who wants to dote on a grandchild. She has always been more independent, and didn't need grandchildren to justify her existence.
I knew the kind of relationship I always wanted, even when I was in the closet, because I wanted a relationship just like my parents. My mother and father, while a perfectly normal married couple for their generation, didn't feel compelled to always go out as a couple, and both parents had many separate interests and went out without having to be on each other's arm constantly.
It was an ideal situation, in my estimation. I know I never want to have to
ask permission of a partner to go out to a meeting, or a party, or any other
event. I expect my partner to be secure enough in my love of him to know he
can always trust me. I also expect the same in return. I thought I had that
with the one I refer to as Mr. Right. In some ways I still think I could have
that with him, but only if he can come to terms with his homosexuality. (Okay,
so I'm living in a dream world. He'll never change any more than straw can turn
to gold. As one of the meanings of a particular tarot card interprets to "you
can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear". Not that I'm saying Mr. Right is
a pig. Maybe a jerk for missing out on my love, but definitely not a pig). (I
may revise that opinion in the future, but as of 2001, physically he wasn't
a pig, even if he did wallow in the mud of sexual gluttony with multiple partners
of both sexes.)
Anyway, two years later, and my mother is adjusting to the fact her only son is gay. She has acknowledged my sexuality and doesn't urge me to keep it a secret anymore. In fact, she's even started telling her friends. It amazes me how these men and women of her generation, after knowing me most of my life, and seeing I wasn't ever involved with a woman, and I was 36 years old, are still surprised when she tells them. That's just the type of small town we live in. Sheltered.
I added this installment to clarify the transition, mentally, from "In" to "Out." Not only was it a rough transition, but one of great relief. The night I was outed was a terrible night, and it did not get better for a long time, but it has started to heal. My burden was lifted, inadvertently, by Mr. Right. I know he did it to be malicious, to hurt me as much as he could, but instead he's made my life so much easier. Oh no, it isn't a breeze, and I don't get everything my way, but I no longer care what society thinks of me, since I realize strangers don't care who I'm sleeping with (unless it's someone really famous), nor do they care about my sexual orientation at all.
I've come to realize, strangers only give you a passing interest until they move on to something more important in their lives. As I've said before, Mr. Right is someone who fears rejection by society, and he has my pity, as does his current beard, because I know it's impossible to run from yourself, or hide your true self forever, and as long as you do continue to hide you only serve to hurt yourself.
I wish Mr. Right could feel the relief I feel. I wish he could look in the mirror and have real self pride and self love, and most of all self respect for the way he lives his life. I wish he could look back on his life with pride that he lived an honest and truthful life, and was true to himself.
I've learned to feel all of these things thanks to Mr. Right, and to my studies of Kabala, paganism, Wicca, mysticism, and the occult. All paths of whatever God or Goddess you follow encourage honesty, self love, and self respect.
So, our lesson for today is, love yourself as you are, and always be honest with yourself. Let's face it, if you lie to yourself, then you can't even trust yourself. There truly is no one on earth whom you can trust, and that is a sad thing.