I'm 35 and just now ready to come out. But it's not so easy when you're...
No matter what I do or do not do, someone gets hurt. I either go through life denying who I am, always fearing getting caught or being outed, or I hurt my wife. It would be easy if she was nasty or hateful, but she loves me and is truly my best friend. Do you have any advice?
Dear Mr. Doubtfire,
Sure coming out is hard; and for good reason. The social pressures and stigmas put on gay men are tremendous. Gay people should be given a metal for being brave enough to come out in a society where gay men are viewed as weak or an abomination of nature or blamed for natural disasters like Katrina. So, we've all been left with a choice to make: Deny our inner selves or face the battles of being an openly gay man. No wonder there are so many people on the down low. As anti-gay social pressures increase, so does the temptation for many gay men to stay in the closet. I don't know about you, but I feel great being a moving target- not! The irony of the situation is that many people don't accept gay men for who we are, but at the same time ask us not to live a lie.
People say being gay isn't a choice. Of course being gay is not a choice. One cannot decide to be gay, but a man can definitely choose whether or not to live a gay lifestyle- which is your current situation. But before I go into how to find some inner peace with your decision to come out (we've already established that you cannot choose to be gay), let me describe what it means to live a gay lifestyle.
When I say gay lifestyle, I'm not referring to the stereotypes and generalizations usually associated with being gay, I'm speaking of fully accepting one's same gender loving feelings without hiding or living a lie. I'm referring to fulfilling your dreams of having a family or raising children or not as a productive member of society. All this can be done as a gay man. Not a gay man living within the confines of the heterosexual norms.
Sure, things are tough now because a very beautiful person in your life was hurt. We cannot change that, nor can we go back in time and obsess over previous choices. What matters is the now. You can now begin the process of healing your inner wounds and exploring a part of you that has been suppressed for so long. I don't suggest going out and making up for lost time (in the bedroom or the club), but I do suggest spending some quality time with yourself and developing new life goals. Here are a few things to consider:
- Now that you are out, what kind of life do you want to live?
Understand that you can be gay and still like the things you like. There is no one way to be gay!
- Do you still have the same desires for a family?
Many men in previous heterosexual relationships now have gay partners and still maintain positive contact with their ex wives and kids.
- Have you found a gay-friendly support network or friends?
If not, try starting in the Gay Life forum or visit a local gay community center. They have tons of programs and you can meet some great people with similar interests. This is very important. There are also many men in the forum who share your same experiences. They have been a tremendous help to others and can be helpful to you as well. You should surround yourself with as many positive influences as possible.
- If you are spiritual or religious, have you found a gay-affirmative church?
Browse through the gay-friendly church guide for a spiritual home that best fits your faith. Spirituality has helped many men through this tough time.
- What are your coming out goals?
Coming out is on your terms. You shouldn't feel the pressure to come out to all at once. Make sure you are comfortable. Set goals for coming out. You already made a major milestone by coming out to yourself. Now set other targets such as coming out to your family, friends and coworkers. Some people go for it "whole hog" and just spill the beans. It takes years for others. You decide for yourself!
Your gay friend,