Tuesday, October 11, 2005

National Coming Out Day

Well today is National Coming Out Day. And it's nice that they have a day for it. But it's not like you can send an email to everyone you know, one big mass email, and say "Hey there, I'm gay. Have a nice day." Yeah, that's not going to work too well. Coming out is a process. And everyone's coming out is different. We all have stories.

When did I first come out? It really is such an odd question. When did I first come out to someone else, or when did I first come out to myself? I think the latter is the more relevant question. When did I know, for certain, without a doubt, that I was gay. Not till I was probably in my late 20s. I'm a late bloomer. I knew I was different back in junior high and high school. And being different when you are a teenager is bad. So I pretty much took all of those thoughts and locked them away in the back of my mind. I went to the Naval Adademy, into the Navy, and kept myself so busy that I didn't have to deal with them. Denial isn't just a river, people. I knew I was in denial. I knew I was attracted to men, but I wasn't gay. I would buy gay porn, but I wasn't gay. I had segmented and compartmentalized my life and all of those things would be dealt with in time. When I finally decided to leave the Navy, I finally "came out" to myself. My last night on active duty I was on terminal leave dancing my ass off in a gay bar in Sydney. It was an interesting end to one life, and the beginning of another.

Being honest with yourself can be hard, but coming out to your relatives is harder. It's really difficult to describe the fear, heartache, and hope that goes through your mind as you prepare to come out to your family. I came out first to my sister. I waited until she had given birth to my niece. I wanted to make sure my parents had 2 grandchildren before I dropped the bomb. My mother was going to be coming into town soon, so I wanted to tell my sister first so that when Mom freaked out, she would know why. My sister is very cool. My brother-in-law, S, however, can be a stick in the mud. So I was very scared to come out to them. My sister used to live near by and I would go over atleast once a week to be Uncle Trey. I really enjoyed my time with my nephew and was looking forward to spending time with my neice. And I was just deathly afraid that my brother-in-law would freak and refuse to let me come visit my niece and nephew anymore. That would have crushed me. So I went and talked with my sister and told her. And her response, "Yeah, S thought you might be." S was totally cool with it and my sister was totally cool with it. All of that worrying and heartache was for nothing.

Mom was a different story. When my parents came to visit back then, they would stay with me, but we would spend most of the time at my sister's. I waited several days trying to find the right time to subltey bring up the subject, but there were no good opendins. So one day before we headed over to my sister's house, I sat her down on the couch and told her that I had something very important to tell her. Her reaction? "No, no you're not." It's like denial was a family trait. Of all of the various responses that I was prepared for, pure denial was not one of them. I replied, "Yes, yes I am." And her response, "Have you seen anyone about this?" Like it's a rash that I can get a cream for? I told her no. That I didn't need to see anyone. We had a very short, awkward conversation and then she said that she wasn't prepared to talk about it anymore. So we didn't. And for the most part, we don't talk about it. She has met my ex-boyfriend, but that's about as much as she wants to know about my personal life. It took me 30 some years to accept and understand being gay, so I can't expect my Mom to understand and accept it overnight. I hope one day she will.

Dad. He doesn't know. He's a hard core conservative. Graduated West Point. 32 years in the Army. Retired as Brigedier General. It's weird with Mom knowing and not Dad. And after all of the time I spend with Dad, it feels like I'm constantly lying, or censoring myself, when I talk with him. The truth is that despite his excellent health at the age of 75, he's not going to live forever. And I think he needs to know the truth. I think I need to be honest with him. So I'm going to come out to him. I'm heading out on vacation on Saturday and I plan to mail a letter to him on Friday. Yes a letter. Coming out over the phone is not good. And the next time I'll see Dad is at Christmas. I think there's going to be enough drama with all of us in LA visiting my sister for Christmas without me adding to the mix. So a letter. I'm hoping the formality of a letter will put a bit of distance between us and make this a bit easier for him. We'll see.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Trey--Good luck with telling the General. I hope Liz is in on the contents so that she can be there to talk to him about it. When other people process the event normally (or have processed the event--SB and S), then social pressure can help make it seem like less of a big deal. Give them my father's number if they want (caring) clergy to talk about it.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Vig said...

Wow. You'll be in my thoughts. I think it is normal for acceptance to take up to 10 years. I hope your Mom has come 'round more than you realize and can help your Dad be comfortable very soon. It is a different era, your timing may be perfect.

Good luck!


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