How does one navigate their life to get from a place of hiding to a place of pride? Pride comes in stages as we repeatedly push against the thoughts and beliefs that made for hiding.
My son just wrote a paper for his college English class about when he learned that I was gay. His paper begins by describing a picture taken when he was about thirteen months old, sitting on my shoulders in just a pair of diapers, on a lovely July day. We are both laughing and happy. Then he describes me in later years as I began to get more distant and unhappy as I wrestled with my sexuality and the drive to live an honest life as a gay man that came smack up against the marriage to a woman that I was in. Once I left my marriage, I became 1000% happier, and it showed. I remember my coworkers and my son commenting on how happy I was. My son ends his paper with this sentence: “A man that I am proud to call my father.” A sentence that brought tears to my eyes.
When I think about my own journey in coming out, I know that my son, my wife, and both our families have had their own journeys to go on. I have seen in myself that you do not undo twenty-two of years of marriage and forty years of being in the closet overnight. It takes constant vigilance and constant pushing against the hidden thoughts that lurk in the subconscious to be proudly out. I respect my son and the journey he has been on. When he marched with me this past summer in the Capital Pride Parade, with my coworkers and my boyfriend, I knew that he had taken a big step. I see him today more at ease with my sexuality and who I have become. Maybe most importantly he sees how happy I have been these past two years and that seems to make him happy too.