Monday, February 25, 2008

Ironic Double Life

I have suddenly found myself in an ironic double life. I used to be this quiet shy straight guy that just had not found the right woman yet. That was how everyone knew me, they did not know about my being gay, having friends on the net, searching for the strength to change or the courage to come out. No one knew I had a boyfriend for a short time in my twenties, it was a secret world only in my head mostly, the straight life was the one I was leading. Now however it has become reversed. To my friends I am a gay man, to my sister I am a gay man. To some new friends that I have made, they have always known me as a gay man. To Dave I am his boyfriend, to his friends, family and clients I am the guy dating him, again to them I have always been gay. I am beginning to feel comfortable with this, it feels like where I should be.

The reverse to my life happens now when I go to visit my parents. There I am the straight guy again, the proper son, and I am not comfortable in that role any more. I recall the childhood days when winter would come, the coats and sweaters that I wore the year before no longer fit me, I had out grown them. No matter how much I tugged at the jacket it would ride up my sleeves or expose my stomach to the cold. The straight role does not fit me any more and I feel my parents don't really know their son. I had borrowed the movie Broke Back from Dan, as I mentioned before, my Dad had said that he wants to see the movie, mainly because he loves cowboy movies. I thought I would play it and maybe open up a discussion about gay people, how we don't choose this, that it is part of who we are. I did not show it to them however as my Mom reminded how hard they can be on people.

As I walked into the kitchen, my Mom said 'take a look at this' and threw down some pictures in disgust. I looked at the pictures to see my very pretty cousin, her handsome fiance and their cute as a bug baby. They are distant cousins so we do not keep in contact with them. I was surprised by the baby, the plan was over a year ago they were to be married but they had an oops-baby and so had to stop the wedding as she was due at the same time. They will resume plans and wed in June. Mom was disgusted, she said 'will that family never learn, that is terrible'. I said for Mom to step back a little, first they planed long before the baby came to get married so it was not like a shot gun wedding, second they are to be married this spring, third is was not perfect but they will end it well. The family is cute, they are both educated adults, doing well for themselves, down to earth and generally really nice people. I said most couples are doing the same thing only they got caught. Really, no one is having kids any more so it is actually exciting to see a baby in the family. Mom would just not see it that way, she insisted that it was horrible, they were filth for letting this happen, it was an embarrassment to the family and I suddenly knew that I would never be able to tell her. She was not always this hard on people, hard but not like now. As my parents get older they are becoming less and less reasonable, I always figure they worked hard all their lives, were good parents to us, so I don't argue anymore. I want then to glide into their final years happy. I am at a loss as what to do, Dave is very understanding. For now I will leave it but there may come a time when I want to move in with Dave and then it will be pretty plain what is happening. There is also going to be the day when one of my new friends that knows me as a gay person, will turn out to be related to someone that knows my parents, with small towns and huge families, that always happens sooner or later.

Ironic how the role is now reversed, for a day or two I am a straight guy again and I find it sad that my parents don't know the life I lead now, because this is the one that finally makes me happy.


Anonymous said...

Steve, better tell them or... do you want them to find out through a picture taken of you and your other half. That would break their heart, that you didn't trust them enough to show them you are happy in your real [gay] life. If you are happy with your partner, so will they.

Who knows how they will react to Dave, maybe he's that other son they always wanted but didn't have.

Birdie said...

Your last line says it all. This is the life that finally makes you happy. You are where you belong.

I'm torn about what to say to you. My brother never came out to us, his family, and lived his life separated from us as though we had already rejected him. I learned from his friends that he was especially afraid of me because I am a Christian. It was only in the last months of his life that he learned that we loved him and we didn't care who he loved. What a waste of love unexpressed.

You know your family best, but is there a chance that they will come around? It could be a shock to them, but your quiet confidence can lead them down the path to acceptance. I think it could be a start to show them Brokeback Mountain, because it humanizes the love they only know as a concept. It can bring understanding to the love you have now.

I have learned that coming out is not an event; it is a lifelong process. Only you can decide when it is appropriate to bring someone into your circle of trust. And you must weigh the price you pay either way. I'm so sorry that this is even an issue in your life. It is not right, but it is what's real. Please know that there are millions out there like me, quiet but accepting. (And I'm not so quiet anymore.)

Let love guide your way in all things.


Steve said...

I really think you should and will tell them in the end. Perhaps not now, but there will come a moment where you will.

If you don't, you will probably regret not having told them, years from now.

Jess said...

Well, I've been out for ages, as has Marc except to certain members of his family; most importantly, his very religious mother. He moved in with his "friend" Jess over 11 years ago, and we've been doing "don't ask, don't tell" since then. At some level, she knows. She has slipped and sent me cards occasionally signed "Mom." But she would be very upset if forced to consciously face the truth, so we know she knows at some level, but we leave it at that.

With that said, being out is very freeing, and we're both out in virtually every other respect, with straight friends, all of my family and much of Marc's, at both of our jobs, etc. It really feels great to live openly and be yourself, but it's possible to do that and not insist upon telling your parents, at least not right away. Also, don't rush to move in with anyone. Even if Dave is Mr. Right, there's no rush! If it's meant to be, it will be. Living together adds new stresses... more than you may realize. First see how much you can build the relationship. Of course, you may be in no rush, but the mention of it suggests that it's at least on your mind. That's understandable, especially in this newfound joy, but just don't rush. With all of that said, I'm thrilled to see how things are progressing so well for you!

john said...

It's such a hard decision about who to tell and who to keep in the closet with you.
I'm still confused on the whole issue.

Renzo said...

Better live in honesty and allow your parents the right to choose their path forward with you. I know it's hard as I myself have come out to my parents (who happen to be missionaries). No small feat but they received a new insight on their own religious beliefs and on what loving their son means. The responsibility will rest with them and you'll be able to free yourself of the burden.
It may take some time as it did for my parents as well, just be patient.
I always believe there is meaning in all things and lessons to be learned but that it can only happen through honesty.
I've enjoyed reading your blogs.
Best wishes,

S said...

As my parents got older, they got (somewhat) more passive. It's probably because they know they can't change anything and that people are a little crazy.

Wayne said...

I never "told" my parents. I lived in a different city, and had a "roommate". Of course parents aren't dumb, they'll figure it out. Especially after you've lived with your "roommate" a while and never talk about girls!

danny/ink2metal said...

this is always a hard topic because only you unsderstand the relationship you have with your parents, but i do believe that you cannot live your life for the sake of your parents' happiness.

they put you on this earth and nurtured and cared for you so you could lead your own life, seek your own happiness.

even if it is hard for them to accept, steven, you're still the same son they raised and i'm sure that will be more important to them than who sleeps in bed with you at night.

and not to scare you but to help put a little perspective on this issue i'll give you some insight from my own personal experience.

i stopped talking to my father for over a decade because of a comment he made to me about how he didn't want me to remind him of my homosexuality by requesting that i did not talk about my life in his presence. a that point, i had already been living with my partner for two years so how could i not talk about the things we were doing? anyway, neither my dad nor i ever expected it to be the wedge that would separate us for so many years, but it was.

the thing was, as much as i loved my dad, i needed to be who i truly was and not some "half-person" to the people who truly loved and respected me unconditionally. since he couldn't accept that, i made a decision to live my life honestly and stop talking to my dad.

meanwhile, many great things happened during the time i wasn't speaking to my father and although i wish i could have shared those things with him, i was still able to enjoy those moments with my partner and the family and friends who would appreciate being a part of our lives. and i don't regret it.

my father was the one with the problem, not me. and it's his loss since he wasn't willing to be part of my life, gay bits included. luckily, i did make the first move to bring him back into my life and we talk, but i still find it difficult to be completely open about my life. but now it's up to him to start to make it a comfortable topic for us to discuss.

anyway, i hope that puts a reality spin to what the consequences could be if you choose to tell your parents and don't get the warm reception you are hoping for. but, you never know, they might react like my mother did, and just nonchalantly say, "yeah, i always knew. and your point is?..."

Java said...

I've got no advice for you. But I'd like to tell you a story.
I am not gay myself, but I used to be very religious and homophobic. You may have figured out I'm not like that anymore. :-) Now we have a gay couple living with us. The story is this: my in-laws are very religious and homophobic. And old and set in their ways. We didn't tell them about our boys for a while, trying to avoid the issue. They live 5 hours away, so it's not like they'd drop in and surprise us! But so much of our lives includes the boys. They are a part of our family now. It was hard to not say something about them. My husband and I were both afraid they'd be mad and get ugly with us.

Well, last May our daughter graduated from high school and the in-laws were coming for the event. We couldn't put it off any longer. About a month or two before their visit my husband took a trip home. He needed to "come out" to them about our change of heart, about our pro gay activities, and about our housemates/new family members. We were both pretty nervous about it.

He brought up the subject after dinner that Saturday evening. He told them what was going on at home and that the boys were living here. He said "being gay isn't a choice. It's inborn." His mom said "I thought it might be. Why would anyone chose to live with such persecution?" I don't remember what his dad's words were, but he seemed OK with it all. It was a very short conversation, and their response was basically "oh, well. Good luck." We were pleasantly SHOCKED!

When they came for the graduation they had a chance to meet the boys briefly. It was all good. It's mostly a non-issue now.

That's what happened with us. No one knows what your parents might say. It could go either way.

Good luck!