30 May 2010

 

June 2010: Multiple 20-Year Anniversaries

Well, here we are on the edge of June 2010.

I take the coming of June to represent the anniversaries of several almost contemporaneous events for me. In this case, the time in question is 1990.

Sometime in the second half of May 1990, I had had enough, and I finally came out as a gay man. Until then, I had proclaimed to a small—very small: onezies and twozies—subset of my friends that I was bisexual. I knew underneath it all that I was gay, but I felt obliged—for me, for them—to proclaim that I was bi, so that my infatuations with my fellow males of the species could be explained as a lark, a fling, an occasional digression, but that when push came to shove, I was one of the boys, looking for a nice girl.

But that was all bunk: I was never looking for nice girl. I understood that etiquette and protocol demanded that I was looking for a nice girl, but I was never, in my heart of hearts, looking for a nice girl. To the several nice girls whose time I wasted: I'm sorry.

I was in grad school at the time, and I was in our offices when a pouty young undergraduate who was working for my academic, not thesis, advisor at the time, went off on some shpiel about Congressman Barney Frank, and how "we" didn't endorse "his kind."

"What kind is that? Because I'm that kind." I went off on this kid about how I was a gay man, and how there was nothing wrong with being a gay man, and how he ought to keep his not-so-subtle insinuations to himself.

It was, as those of you who have been through any kind of "coming out" experience know, cathartic. Some enormous weight that I wouldn't even admit to myself that I had been carrying around was now gone.

Within the day, I had told my academic advisor. Within the week, everyone in our lab/office. Within a month, everyone that I thought was of importance in my life, including my family, via a trip to see my mom in Florida and one of my brothers and his family, who were living near Atlanta at the time.

I can still remember coming out to my mom. The reason I wanted to come out wasn't just so she knew who I was, but so that I could someday be involved with someone, to have a relationship, to connect. I really regret that those of you who object to people being gay can't understand that we have these relationships with others—same, as opposed to different, gender—that are exactly like your intimate relationships. It starts and includes a large sexual component, but it evolves into a knowledge of someone else who is there, who knows you and all your wrongheadedness (and even your better aspects) like no other, and who puts up with you for all your foolishness and your imbecility because maybe, just maybe, you bring something to them that they value. Because maybe, just maybe, someone besides your mamma loves you for just being you. In spite of you. And if you're lucky, your mamma will understand how much you love that one and how much he loves you. (I was lucky.)

In that same late May framework, I also finally went out to a gay bar. The Ramrod in Boston, to be exact. I had been in gay bars previously, but always in a fleeting, I'm not really here, manner. When I finally went to the Ramrod one Thursday night late in May 1990, I meant to be there. And I felt comfortable there. It's cheesy, but I felt quite at home there.

Did I mention I was thirty-three freakin' years old by that time? I know there are those who come out later, but by contemporary standards, that's a very late bloomer.

I also quit smoking cigarettes in the same time frame. I had the notion when I first went out to the gay bars, that if I was ever going to quit smoking, it had to be then or it would be never. I had seriously started smoking—buying packs as opposed to bumming cigarettes—when I was 13, so this year marks the anniversary of as long of a time of not smoking as the duration of time I smoked! Twenty years smoking; twenty years since not smoking.

When I got back. after the big trip to see my mom and my brother. to Cambridgeport, where I was living at the time, I finally started hitting the gym.

Somewhere in there, I also went to my first big Pride event on the Boston Common. I remember running into other grad students there who I had never came out to and who had never come out to me.

There are too many anniversaries to keep track of in all that, so I just adopted 1 June 1990 as when I came out at work and to family, when I started going out to gay bars, when I went to my first Pride event, when I quit smoking, and when I started lifting weights. Just easier, even if it is less precise.

Now it's 20 years later.

If coming out has meant anything detrimental to me, I am not aware of it. Above all else, coming out is an act of integrity, and we, as a culture, as a society, ought to value integrity, maybe above all else. Coming out was made easier by the fact that I had many life experiences behind me by that time, but more difficult that many of those experiences were based on lies or on hiding who I really was from others.

Those who frame the gay issue in a framework that suggests that gay people—non-straight people, to be as inclusive as possible—are as we are to insult that which created us all (that gay people are gay to insult God) are just wrong. I can say that unequivocally. I'm sure those of you who believe something foolish like we hate God or we're evil intrinsic can find some isolated text to justify your position, even as you ignore similar directives regarding mixed fibers and shellfish and the stoning of unfaithful wives and the like. That such is life is frustrating, but not sufficient of a reason for me to give up.

So, happy 20th coming out, quit smoking, started going out, started working out, anniversary to me!

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Comments:
Wow your story is great. My friends say it is a very difficult process to come out. I can only imagine.
Thank you for sharing your story. And happy 20th! :)
 
I congratulate you for having the courage to come out!!Your post is honest!

Happy 20th!

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News
 
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