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Was Coming Out Easy For You?
#1
I've just been trying to answer Andy's poll about when we realised we were gay/bi etc. My history is a bit complicated and I wrote a long reply which didn't really fit the mood of the question, so I thought I start this thread in case anyone else has a story they'd like to share. An actual life can sometimes be stranger than a fictional one.

Shall I start?

I had crushes on and intense friendships with boys during childhood. I generally had one special friend at a time rather than belonging to any one group or gang. My mum even teased me about being in love with a male music teacher when I was eleven and still in primary school. I didn't recognise or acknowledge any of that as being gay though - "'mo" was the noun we used at the time in the sixties. I felt I was an outsider in all my social interactions at school, home and church - normal adolescence in that regard maybe? My family and cultish religious upbringing informed my inability to question what was really going on. Being a regular churchgoer affected my friendships at school while the music I wanted to listen to, my hair and the clothes I preferred to wear brought me (and my parents) a lot of pressure from church. During weekdays I attended a state-run all-boys school and through adolescence I didn't have many encounters with girls except when I went to church. I realised boys made good wank fantasy material in my early-teens and, thankfully our p.e. changing rooms, showers and the communal baths after rugby or cross-country running did not elicit the same fear that feeds the plots of a so many American films.

At church in my mid-teens I was given pamphlets to read and weekly reminders that explained that many adolescents can form unhealthy interests in members of the same sex. When I was pressured to "confess" to my "bishop" (not the one I guiltily enjoyed bashing of course Blush ) I was told I would grow out of it after I got to know some girls. I made friends with a girl from church at sixteen and we became best friends. I was also fully expecting to grow out of fantasising about males as soon as I got married. In our religion a loving heterosexual marriage was very aspirational and affected not just this life, but the afterlife too. From church leaders and teachers at church there was a lot of pressure to abstain from any and all sexual activity until marriage, so apart from my right hand I didn't explore many intimate opportunities. That doctrinal propaganda proved unproductive because, had I realised the disappointment of my wedding night before getting married, I probably could have saved a lot of people a lot anguish. Even so there was a lot of praying and repenting going on Angel and I was seriously trying to avoid giving in to temptation. The cultish nature of the church meant that throughout my life I had been trained not to recognise the knowledge or authority of anyone who contradicted the doctrine. They were being used by Satan to draw me away from "the truth". Masturbation would lead me into homosexual activity and homosexual behaviour was a sin worse than murder. "Parents, if you realise your son experiences same-sex attraction it would be better that you had tied a rock round his neck and thrown him into the Great Salt Lake," was one of the pithy aphorisms that were often regurgitated from the pulpit to the general congregation during my teenage years.

When I was nineteen four important things happened. After working in London for a year I started college*. I met and fell in love with a man* a year or so older than me who'd come to London from New York to work for an Anglo-American band I followed. He was clearly interested in me and filled all my waking and sleeping thoughts. I was not capable of processing these feelings as love, but it was too late anyway, I'd married* my best friend. Around this time I also discovered cottages*. I couldn't keep away, but was determined never to go back after every single encounter. I couldn't explain it and learned to begin to put all the bits of my life that wouldn't fit together into different boxes in my head. The next few years were a mess. I got through college and took my first job in a school. We moved away from family with a family of very young children of our own. By the time I was twenty-five I was trying to make ends meet in my draining, but poorly-paid job, be a dutiful husband and a good father to my beautiful kids and fulfil a number of exceedingly onerous duties as an elder in the church. I was failing in all those roles, sinking deeper into depression, lost my faith in a dramatic realisation and went out to commit suicide. I even failed at that.

So, in answer to Andy's question, while I had known for most of my life at some unconscious level, it took me until I was nearly forty to come out to myself and start to process what that was going to mean for me and my loved ones. That was when I finally acknowledged I was probably not going to grow out of being interested in men - slow learner - and my mental wellbeing took another dip (although the low periods had never completely lifted). I struggled on thinking this is what everyone copes with until so many of my friends and colleagues were telling me I needed to get help that I decided to go through the motions to shut them up. That was when depression was finally formally diagnosed and I began to receive treatment including what became a total of four years in counselling.

Very early on I had come to think to myself that my engagement and marriage were best described as a state of warfare interspersed with occasional periods of truce. During the engagement, older, married friends explained that betrothals were always tense and that life would improve once we'd tied the knot. When we were visiting my parents would walk out of the room rather than have to listen to the way she spoke to me. I convinced myself the truces made it all worthwhile and it would all get better. I would do better. It was a shock when my counsellor first used the word "abuse" to describe what I was experiencing. That sort of thing happened to other people not to men and certainly not to me ... but sadly he was right. It took a further five years, but getting to the stage of knowing I was not going to survive another year (I'd make sure I got it right this time) I finally found the courage to leave the home and my wife finally began divorce proceedings. All her church friends and family surrounded her with love and support and church friends I'd known since childhood immediately cut off all contact.

I wasn't looking to fall straight into another relationship. I wanted to have some "teenage" years that I'd missed out on before I started looking for someone special again. However, we don't always get what we think we want. Meeting PA online and growing into our relationship over the past eighteen years has been just the best experience. I wish I had known then what I know now. I would not have hurt so many people. However, until the lockdown experience of this year I can honestly say that my life has never been happier. I wish my mother had lived long enough to know I could be happy.
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#2
I came out at a New Year's Eve party about 2 weeks before my 28th birthday.

I came out in stages.  New Year's Eve to a small circle of friends and my younger brother.

New Year's Day to my other brother.

A week later to my parents.

Not long after that to work and then extended family.

About a month or so after coming out I was at a bookstore and found this book.  I think it's almost 25 years old now, so some of the information may be out of date, but it dealt with being gay and coming out in a light-hearted yet informative way.  I still have it on my bookshelf.

https://www.amazon.com/Homo-Handbook-Sur...0684813580
Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: 
''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!
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#3
I've never fully come out, but started coming out at 19.

When I was 13, other kids started to seriously question me being gay, because, for whatever reason, they thought it was their business. I managed to lie my way out of being outed at 13 and 14, but 15 - 18 was harder because people started to bully me more and my mental health went to shit (almost like those two things were related, what a coincidence). Even though there was at least one openly gay guy in my high school who managed to stay somewhat safe by hiding behind girls, I could never risk it, because even though I was still closeted, I had it worse than him. I'd get sexually assaulted and worse everyday, so I had no idea what my bullies would do to me if they found out I was gay. It didn't really make sense to me that they were so homophobic yet did so many homoerotic things to bully me. Whenever I was being held down and forced to say things I didn't want to say, I'd never admit I was gay when they asked me, because I think they'd then think I was somehow enjoying it.

When I was 19, I told my mom. At the time, that was the average age people came out, and I didn't want to be not average. I told my mom, and she freaked out and went into full on denial mode and told me it was just a phase and hormones and blah blah blah. She told me not to tell my dad, and to not tell anyone at my job. She kept on telling me she was having nightmares that I was going to get killed and basically be the next Matthew Shepherd . . . so, those were fun times. Anyway, my dad died of a tragic accident a few months later, so I never got to tell him when he was alive.

I've never told my brothers . . . but I have had "sleepovers" with other gay guys when my brothers were still living with me. My younger brother figured out I was gay and so does his wife. My older brother on the other hand, for whatever reason, it never clicked that I never had a girlfriend and have slept in the same bed as guys who visited me. I mean, um, I don't know. He never asked, so, whatever.

I don't have the same job I used to have where I had to stay closeted, so now I tend to be more myself. I'm sort of at a crashed point in my life right now where I'm ready for whatever to happen, happen. I also promised myself I won't stay closeted at my next job (well, unless it pays a shit ton of money, but in my new profession, the most money comes from predominantly liberal areas).

I can get really uncomfortable talking about being gay with people. I don't tell my extended family, like my grandmas, aunts, and uncles, because they might ask why I didn't tell them sooner, and that would just bring up bad memories that might make me dissociate or have an anxiety attack. There's too much bad blood between me and my family, people I went to school with, and my entire area in general, that I'm ready to just move away and never come back. It makes me sad because I grew up in a very beautiful area of the world and I have just as many good memories, but it is what it is.
What happened?
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#4
@Chase thanks for sharing your story. It makes me sad though and I hope you can see something better in your future.

It never ceases to amaze me how so many people think it is any of their business who we love. It is certainly not as though our choice of partnerships has any effect on their lives at all. Even if it does it is their issue to sort out, and absolutely not ours to "protect" them. That the bullying and hazing often includes sexual touching is very unhealthy and is something society needs to work harder to address.

After I'd finally come out to myself and found the words to come out to a close friend it became easier and the process of coming out got under way - I see it more as a process than an event. It was not something I particularly wanted to do, but I felt a peculiar compulsion to do it. These days the compulsion has left me, but when I talk about normal stuff with people I do make a point of including male pronouns if I can refer to my partner in the conversation. I'm normal, he's normal, this conversation is normal. If there is a downside to this it probably manifests itself as a tendency to overshare. I suspect that may not be the case if there had never been an issue about sexual orientation.
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#5
@Chase I'm very sorry that you had to go through that shit. I really am at a loss for words. I don't think conjecture is helpful. It does make me remember some of the stuff that went on at my high school. I spent my years in high school pretty much alone. Didn't really have any friends, never did sports or any extracurricular activities, dances, etc. Although I was not out. I really had an internal struggle for a while.

It wasn't until I was out of highschool before I came out to my sister and about a year later. I remember I was 20 at the time and my parents for some reason thought I was selling or doing drugs something like that when I was going to see my boyfriend at the time. So coming out was very weird and tense because I was being questioned about what I doing, where I was going, etc. So my coming out to my parents was the result of being interrogated. That being said, I am fortunate that my parents, even my grandmother, were accepting of it. I know I am very lucky and a lot of guys weren't so lucky when their parents found out. I don't know how it would have been if I had come out during high school. Being in the south and in a small town, might not have been so pleasant.

Even now, I don't really tell people. I am out to family and friends, but I don't tell the world. I've never been to pride or anything like that. I do know the country is slowly moving in the right direction. One of my friends who owns a local radio station is gay and is married, he's been fortunate to not have received much backlash if any against him and his partner. Although they aren't broadcasting that to the world, word in a small town usually gets around.
Chickity China, the Chinese chicken
You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'


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#6
So far my story is close to @marshlander 's, I grew up in a very religious household going to bible study and all that. I have had people ask me why I'm single and I usually think of some bs answer, but I do seem masculine and I am into sports so it has been pretty easy to convince people I'm straight, plus two of my aunts claim that god already has a wife for me and one saw in a dream that I was married with kids, I don't want any of that Sad . I've struggled with depression for a while with two close suicide attempts so now I finally decided to get help. I still can't stop thinking about all the times I could have dated and attempted to have a life but I wanted to be a good boy so God wouldn't hand me over to the devil.

I think my biggest problem will be getting away from the church, it was started by some friends of my family and I basically got thrown into some positions there. It really sucks because like many church people they're so hypocritical, they talk about being open and accepting to all people even gay people but when an out gay guy tried to join they kicked him out. There's also the conversations they've had with the family talking about how gay people are possessed by demons and spirits so I can't stop thinking they'll try a gay exorcism if I ever come out.

Maybe one day I'll snap out of it, grow a pair and just leave. Or the world will end which is mainly what they've been talking about lately.
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Life sucks then you die 
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#7
Sorry to read that, @ceez. Religion, somehow the acceptable face of superstition, has a lot to answer for. I'm still astounded that you say that your church was started by friends. At least that is kind of honest. The church to which I belonged was instituted by God! An arrogant and completely unverifiable claim.

People who have known you for years are unlikely to re-evaluate how they think of of you, unless it's to disfellowship you!!!! Simply "growing a pair" may not work. Love the pair you already have ... Tongue

The best move for me was to move away from the people with whom I'd grown up. It took one layer of the pressure off and I could begin to define my own boundaries. Unfortunately, many of those same people followed me into the area where I'd moved, but by then I'd already been able to draw one line in the sand and refuse to take on any church responsibilities.

How embedded are you in your community? Would you consider moving away to a place where you can make a new start?
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#8
(07-27-2020, 10:57 AM)marshlander Wrote: How embedded are you in your community? Would you consider moving away to a place where you can make a new start?

I stayed here to take care of my grandmother after we found out she had cancer, she raised me so I didn't mind staying. Now that she has passed I would love to move far away, the only problems I have now is I'm roommates with my sister, who can't really afford a decent place on her own and I  have no idea how to even begin moving somewhere else. A friend of mine moved to another  state and asked if I wanted to go but I  don't know how serious he was or if he is even gay friendly.
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Life sucks then you die 
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#9
@ceez I've knew someone that just packed their stuff and left and struggled between living in their car for about a month. I wouldn't suggest something like that unless it is really bad. Definitely have to save money and that is easier said than done, I can certainly speak to that. It can be done but it ain't easy, that's for sure, it's a lot to leave behind and a huge leap of faith that everything will work out.
Chickity China, the Chinese chicken
You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'


[Image: 848398.png]
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#10
(07-27-2020, 02:49 PM)ceez Wrote:
(07-27-2020, 10:57 AM)marshlander Wrote: How embedded are you in your community? Would you consider moving away to a place where you can make a new start?

I stayed here to take care of my grandmother after we found out she had cancer, she raised me so I didn't mind staying. Now that she has passed I would love to move far away, the only problems I have now is I'm roommates with my sister, who can't really afford a decent place on her own and I  have no idea how to even begin moving somewhere else. A friend of mine moved to another  state and asked if I wanted to go but I  don't know how serious he was or if he is even gay friendly.
That makes it more awkward if family close members are involved in joint living arrangements. Do you and your sister own the property or are you renting? Would you mind if she chose to move away with you? Could you float the idea that she might start thinking about another room-mate?

Almost every time I moved into a new area it was because I got a job there first. Once in an area I found somewhere to live, but sometimes had to move once or twice until I found somewhere more suitable.

Courage and strength, mon brave. I wish you the best! x
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