I came out to my future wife on our second date. At the time my attraction to men seemed manageable and for many reasons, including years trying to change from homosexuality, something that I felt at the time was mostly in the past. We spent an intense two months wrestling with this issue before agreeing to continue dating. We married two years later. The topic of my attraction to men soon went underground for the next twenty-two years.Continue reading
“Make sure your vision and your goals are bigger than your fears.”
I love this quote. I heard it this past Sunday evening by Miss Coco Peru in her live-streamed program.
When I think about men coming out later in life and all the challenges they face, having a big vision and strong set of goals is critical.
Every step of coming out later in life, and I use the term coming out as an umbrella for everything a man goes through once they admit to themselves that they are gay or bi, triggers fear. Often not just a little bit of fear, but potentially big, overpowering, stop you in your tracks fear.
I remember obsessing about coming out to certain people. I scripted what I wanted to say to them. I got clear on my message as well as what I was not willing to talk about. I thought about how I might react to things I imagined they might say. All through this process my mind threw up a hundred barriers to coming out wrapped in fear.
My fear was not real or rational. My fears could often be traced back to my own internalized homophobia or shame that I felt about my homosexuality. Years of being in the closet does not prepare you to easily move past your fears.
I had some big goals that helped mitigate my fear. I had a goal of finding love with a man. I did not want to come out for anything less than love. I was not coming out to sit alone in an apartment and grow old. I wanted to find a partner, who I loved and who loved me. I also wanted an active, engaged life in the LGBTQ community. I wanted to join the board of an LGBTQ organization and be open as to why their cause mattered to me. I wanted to bring a male date to a work related event — my company at the time often bought tables at fundraising events and offered the tickets to employees. These big goals and many more smaller goals helped me push past and through my fear.
I also learned that on the other side of my fear was joy. After each coming out I felt stronger, happier, more empowered and often joyful. I also saw coming out as a way to combat internalized homophobia and shame. Often I did not even see the shame or homophobia until I tried to take a step forward and was met with my own fear. Behind the fear was often internalized homophobia or shame masking as fear.
The best way I have found to combat fear has been to have big audacious goals and a vision for my life that is bigger and more powerful than the fear.
Coming out later in life is already hard, but try doing it in a pandemic.
One of the topics we have been discussing for a while now in virtual support group meetings is how men just beginning their journey out of the closet, and in some cases marriages, can explore meeting men, building community, dating and sex with men and be safe at the same time.
Our support group virtual meetings have been a great vehicle for men to build up up their personal network. If a man finds someone during a meeting that they want to know better or something that a man said resonates, they can use the meeting platform to message another man following the meeting and begin a conversation.
We have also discussed not to underestimate our own fears and use our fears as an excuse to do nothing. It is easy to look in the mirror and see an aging body and wonder if you have what it takes to successfully explore the gay world. Will anyone want this older body is something I certainly thought about as I began to come out.
What do you do when you have not dated for twenty, twenty five or thirty years? It takes work and courage and moving past your fears. Going on dates, putting yourself out there, meeting guys cold is really hard and fear inducing. But we need to find ways to push past our fears and get ourselves out there.
I heard a wonderful quote last night watching Miss Coco Peru Live. If you have not heard of Coco Peru, she is a well known drag performer known for her humorous storytelling. She did her first live stream event last night and it was a wonderful mix of humor, song and storytelling. One thing she said that she had learned, which resonated with me was, “make sure your vision and your goals are bigger than your fears.”
For men beginning the journey of dating, meeting men, gay sex, and building community, creating goals and a vision for the life they want is incredibly important. It is the goals and vision that truly do get you past all the fears, and there will be many fears that come up.
A common refrain I have heard from older men, coming out later in life, after marriages to women, is this: “I have found the man of my dreams. I’m so happy.” That is, of course, until a few weeks later, when I hear, “It was incredible until he broke my heart. I’m devastated.”Continue reading
When we think about my own coming out to family and friends, it filled with anxiety, fear and indecision. What will they think of me? Will they still be in my life or will they turn away from me when they know who I am? What kind of hurt and pain will I be causing?Continue reading
As a person comes to terms with their sexual orientation or their gender identity it is almost impossible not to come up against the three headed monster of culture, religion, and family.Continue reading
After so many years of progress for LTBTQ and minorities under President Obama, these last few years have been painful. The country seems to be fracturing, first from COVID-19, and now from the death of George Floyd, with cities exploding into anger and protests, and in some cases violence. It is hard to watch for too long without turning away.
As a child I remember watching TV images of Vietnam protests and documentaries in religious school about the freeing of the concentration camps after World War II. It was hard then to make sense of the cruelty in the world. It is still hard today to see our country being torn apart and racial injustice running rampant.
Today, sitting in our suburban home, the events happing just a few miles away in Washington, D.C. seem like another world. Our neighborhood is quiet and the stores seem unaffected. I spoke to a woman earlier today who had helped care for my father during the last year of his life. In her community, a poor, black, inner city area, stores have been looted and people are unable to purchase basic goods. She was angry that mothers could not buy diapers for their babies or food for their families due to the looting and violence.
I do understand the anger in people across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out jobs and incomes, particularly affecting low income individuals. Then comes the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers. It is like a one, two punch. The tinder was ready to be lit and it was.
I see the protests in our streets as more than a moment in time. I see the culmination of the past few years where minorities saw gains made under Obama repeatedly lost. We have watched right wing hate go mainstream and a president continuously fanning the flames of discord and hatred.
The protests are a wonderful moment where people say, no more! While I do not condone the violence and destruction, I think the protests happening across the USA are an important moment of resistance and a standing up for equal justice for all.
Trauma is a term we often hear talked about in communities of color and the LGBTQ community. There is an entire body of knowledge about how to support individuals who have had trauma. But what is trauma and how ordinary is it?Continue reading
I have a vivid memory of a birthday when I was around eight years old. I had gotten a brownie camera that morning, a birthday gift from my parents. I was excitedly running around the house taking pictures. Suddenly dad was angry at me. I had done something wrong in the eyes of my father. I was never exactly sure what I had done. He got angry at me, threatening some kind of punishment. I remember being very hurt that my father was yelling at me on my special day. There was something about me that could bring out my fathers anger, even thought I knew he loved me.Continue reading
Day 73 at home. This is our new normal. There are things I like about home confinement and there are things I do not. I like sleeping late once in a while and staying up late binging on new steaming shows. I also like the quiet to write this blog and to work on the beginnings of a memoir. My husband and I are wonderful partners to each other in this difficult time. While I miss the occasional dinner out or dinner parties at home or running errands to different stores, I am happy to forgo that to be safe.Continue reading