Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Ghost Of Christmas Past

Very recently at work I was reminded that being "out" and gay was and is for some people, not the norm in a person's life
Living "in the closet" for many is still the only way to be
Hearing these stories of repression and fear,  brings back memories that are awkward and painful for me to remember.
Many years ago now I had a relationship with a guy who was not "out" with his family or with work. It was difficult for me, but I respected his wishes and every Christmas, I felt like a second class citizen as no invites came for the office do and no Christmas cards were passed on by the potential in-laws.
I am being facetious here .......the truth was far less amusing.

If you are the boyfriend of someone in the closet
You do your own thing at Christmas.
I chose to put up with things until I moved into his house for two weeks in between  house moves. His paranoia was such that he actually changed his telephone number for the duration of my stay, and even though I didn't really accept it at the time, that awfully insensitive action was really the beginning of the end.

It pains me that there are some people who feel that hiding great chunks of their lives is a necessity, especially in the so-called enlightened "2010s".I am not talking about the folk who are just private here....everyone has a right to privacy..no ..I am talking about the people  who embark on relationships that are hidden away. There is shame involved and shame is the very worst of emotions to live with.

Eventually, for me, the feeling that someone was ashamed of what I was trying to be a part of, made me walk away from what was in fact, a flawed relationship.It took a while but it clarified what I would and what I would not put up with and it eventually made me realise that we all have choices to make when it comes to how we want to live our lives.

Like Scrooge, I think I can be grateful to those Ghosts of Christmas past... on reflection, mine made me move on to better days

56 comments:

  1. 'The truth will out' comes to mind John. It is very hard to live a lie.

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  2. And I am so glad you have found your better days. Your description of 'hidden' Christmases made me think of people in 'illicit' heterosexual relationships. One of them, usually the woman, also faced the Christmas alone thing. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Love should not be hidden or repressed.

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  3. As people when will we finally ever evolve as decent human beings and just all live our lives without hurt or pain being inflicted on others? there is enough struggle and unhappiness in life without us adding to it. How awful for you to have felt that way then....but better times and people were in your future.

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  4. It is wonderful, this post John. I've always loved your 'outiness'. So sad that others cannot be so true to themselves, for whatever reason. (And sometimes their wariness can be very real and justified, given certain cultural and social set ups.)
    Most of my aunties are gay and we grew up quite accustomed to their relationships. They'd bought houses and weekenders together and gone on holidays together for twenty or so years (just amazing that double professional income no kids demographic, considering each child costs roughly half a million bucks $OZ before they are 18).
    After a few decades of this, two of my aunties who are sisters 'came out' to my grandparents - and my grandies were really shocked! The fact that their daughters were actually partnered with the women they had shared their lives with, had never entered their minds! Nonetheless, their relationships were eventually deemed legit by the grandies, despite the aunties and their partners being part of our whole family for yonks.

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  5. Not so strange Sarah. I had two wonderful female ex-Parisian neighbours who lived openly together etc, and it never crossed my mind that they were gay. I'd always imagined that they were just very good friends. Maybe I was just naive.

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  6. I have two cousins who are gay - one male and one female. The male one was so obviously gay from the start, that I knew he was before I knew what gayness was - i.e. from the age of about 5. He never had to come out of a closet. We always suspected our lesbian cousin of being gay, even when she embarked on a short-lived marriage. She has never come out of the closet either, but now she is about 65 and living with her handsome partner quite openly it is another elephant in the room which has shrunk, year by year, until it almost doesn't exist. Her family (on my father's side) were East-End Jews from Eastern Europe (about 4 generations, we think), and this was either denied or never mentioned until the death of our parents. That's a weird one to keep in the closet!

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  7. I've known so many gay people whose lives have been ruined because they could not be open about who they were/are. One dear man actually went to prison! One of my closest girlfriends married a man who was a well-known hater of gays -- 15 years and one child later, he came out of the closet -- all three never really recovered from the shock of it and destruction it caused. Having to hide who you are and who you love has caused so much needless damage to all of us no matter what our sexuality. It is wonderful to read your blog and you are a testament to the richness of openness and a loving relationship and I just love you for it...

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  8. There won't be equality until it's unnecessary to come out.

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  9. "we all have choices to make when it comes to how we want to live our lives" excellent thought, and one we should all reflect on

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    1. I know it's not as easy as that nic...it's only a personal view

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  10. As the wise 'they' say...let your past make you better not bitter. Well done you John The Dogs...xox

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  11. and then Chris came along..it was meant to be John x

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  12. I was lucky enough grew up in an incredibly free and diverse household and world given the times, and was horrified to realise, when I went out into the wider world as a student, that not everyone was so liberally minded. I am often shocked, even now, when friends come out with a throwaway homophobic comment; people who would consider themselves to be free of prejudice. It's shit that people feel they can't be who they really are. I know.

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  13. So glad you found happier times John. Jx

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  14. I hope that poor sad man finally found the freedom to BE.

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  15. My brother spent many years hiding...with 4 wives, 5 children and trying to make do with what he was never meant to be. Many people were hurt. He is now in the relationship he was meant to be in and he and George have been happy together for many years. No one should have to go thru that kind of pain. Good for who you are with Chris and a long and happy life to you...the past is the past and best left there.

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  16. Mr. John Gray, that "stepping stone" got you to the wonderful place you are this day with Chris ... a journey of getting where you need to be. xx

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  17. Secrets and lies cause so much pain to ourselves and those who care about us. Glad you walked away from such an unhealthy relationship.

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  18. I might add that some people don’t want to come out because same-sex ‘sex’ is considered ‘dangerous’, and ‘danger’ can also be exciting, risky, enchanting and quixotic, and perhaps particularly so if you are already married to someone of the opposite sex. The style “men who have sex with men” recognises this.

    Viewing this as “shame” is only one of a range of explanations.

    Can we not consider too “coming out” itself a form of oppression, a yielding to the ‘demand’ for hetero-normal types of relationship? Not being “out” does not necessarily equate to being “dishonest with oneself”. It is a matter of perspective. In this sense, “not coming out” is an act of resistance. Whether this is shameful is another matter altogether.

    Nx

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    1. like I said Nige, this was written from a purely personal point of view
      nothing more
      like most things, llke you said it's a matter of perspective ( and memory)
      x

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  19. My Mum's lesbian friends (a couple) came to mine and hubby's wedding (1983).I noticed that they were not in any photographs,and slipped away before the reception.They said that they didn't want to cause any embarrasment for me when others looked at the photographs,and that guests would look at them during the reception, not Chris and me. It broke my heart that they felt they had to hide who they were.
    Jane x

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  20. John... A subject close to my heart.

    As an instructor, teaching at a medical university, I can say we are diligently working to educate our up-n-coming medical professionals to be aware of all stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and lack of awareness.

    As a mental health professional, I work with many same-sex couples. Oftentime, there is significant trauma with this exact same subject.

    I am so glad, John, you were able to leave the relationship. Many in the same situation - stay.

    You have written another post that once again, reminds me self-authenticity is something we should all work for... I, myself, need to work on it more (damn, it's so not easy though).

    Kelly

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  21. So true. I've had a number of friends and acquaintances over the years with the same sorts of issues as your ex. I try so hard to respect others' boundaries (and perhaps limitations), but when the shame crosses over to me, I have to walk away. I've lived through enough and empowered myself enough to not be dragged back down by someone else's shame. Glad you chose the path you did!

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  22. My neighbor has just started the transition from man to woman after many years of marriage and children. I see him/her from time to time in full female attire and although I make small talk and we have never acknowledged the change. She pretends not to know me and just makes small talk back. I wish she would say "hey, I go by "Shauna" now and get the awkwardness over, but I totally understand the discomfort and unwillingness to talk about it. I can;t imagine the years in the closet with this one.

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  23. Years ago, my partner was "out" at work. I worked at another company across the street. My company was very conservative and so I was not out. It was never a real problem except that it sometimes bothered me that my partner's co-workers knew nothing about me other than that I was a lesbian. I felt diminished by that fact because I'm a hundred other things besides that! Of course, time changes things and it's no longer a consideration.

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  24. I have a very good friend that is gay and only has been "out of the closet" for a few years. When he told me, he said that he didn't want to tell anyone for fear they would not be his friends any longer. My reply was, "If they are your friends, they will continue to be your friends, if they aren't, they never were your friend". It's not my place to judge anyone, as a friend, it is only my job to love my friends. Funny thing was, I told my friend that I knew for quite a some time that he was gay, I was just waiting for him to get to a place that he felt ok to tell me. He continues to be one of my dearest friends and I love him for his kind heart, loyalty to his loved ones and his love for all God's creatures. I have another friend that is gay and he's never told his family and I know he never will, I respect his decision and value his friendship.
    I think you are exactly where you need to be John!! There's a song by Carrie Underwood on her new album, and the title is....There's Good in Goodbye, I think we all say goodbye to things to find something better.

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  25. I wonder what became of him - still living half a life ?

    I know a woman who has lived with women for years. She has always referred to them as friends. It caused difficulties for invitations etc. She has started using the word partner now and it has made it so much easier to invite her & her partner.

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    2. I dont know if I would say "half a life" just a life that couldn't suit me

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  26. A lovely post, John, and probably a painful one although you are in a great life now with Chris. A couple of nights ago I was on the phone with a friend back in Atlanta, catching up and talking about my move in a few months back to the South. I finally "confessed" to her that my big concern was that since my knees started "going bad" and are too painful for me to walk as I used to, I had gained a lot more weight. I moaned that my little grandson might not like having a "fat" grandma. My friend straightened me out - she said he'll love me because I'm me. She further told me that it will never matter to her and her husband, except for possibly health reasons, because they will always love me as I am. I needed that reassurance. Guess I'll have to learn to accept myself!

    Nancy in Iowa

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  27. What do you mean "gay" ? I didn't know you were ! What will the neighbours think ? Heavens above John ....you have truly released the hounds now ! I just thought you were a keen chicken keeper !

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    1. I saw you today with your "downton Abbey" flat cap on!

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    2. It helps me to avoid conversation with folk who small talk ! Head down , look at their feet !! If I had a bloody pound for every clown who has told me " cold isn't it " this week I would have £8 ....

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    3. oh you "not so affable despot you"

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    4. Bah humbug .....

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    5. I shall refer to you as Lord Grantham from now on and Eve will be Lady Mary

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    6. I have never watched an episode of DA in my life .....I believe DA fans are the new Trekkies , odd sorts who think its bloody real .... Not a patch on us Whitechapel murder obsessives , at least we can rely on fact to back up our weird interests !!

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    7. well...on reflection... what with the tweed hat... you are starting to dress like....? Sherlock Holmes?
      perhaps I could be your Watson..... and... hummmm who from the village could play Moriarty?

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    8. One of the dog twins perhaps ?

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    9. One of the dog twins perhaps ?

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    10. One of the dog twins perhaps ?

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  28. I had posted about knowing someone closeted, not realizing she was until we were in a situation where she became completely uncomfortable, and the penny finally dropped. As Sarah said, the wariness often has justifiable reasons, which makes me sad.

    One fellow hockey player whom i knew for years before i started playing hockey, as she worked with Himself, used to refer to her "roommate" as the two shared a house. At company functions, this woman often came alone, and i once innocently asked where her roommate was. She looked a bit flustered, said she had to work, and that was that. When i started playing hockey on her team, i got a chance to meet her roommate, who was indeed her partner. They threw a number of great parties, and i was so glad to be on their invitation list.

    I'm glad your ghost of Christmas past is indeed in the past.

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  29. I don't know whether I'm dim or naive but it never occurred to me that folks were *still* having these issues. In the 21st century? I thought we'd evolved a bit more than that. It makes me sad....

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  30. I am only hoping that the future generations will look back on these and older times and think "oh, how barbaric!"...

    Humanity in the here and now still has a lot to learn.

    Thank you for writing an honest posting - too often people dont know and will continue on being totally clueless to what their neighbor/coworker/friend/relative might be experiencing; even those who think that they are "within the know"...

    like I said, Im hoping it will change for the better...

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  31. Great post and comments here John! It took a few years for Ron and I to 'come out'...until we were comfortable,secure and courageous enough to do so. Considering it was in the 70's, we were taking a risk with friends and family...we were petrified of becoming isolated and shunned. But as a commentor said above, they weren't friends if they couldn't accept this.
    Times are changing so quickly now that this will soon become a non-issue. And thank God for that!

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  32. I have a cousin who is gay and her parents/sister quit speaking to her when they found out...she has since moved to Australia and missed by all the rest of us...it's been 30 years and I still want to shake her sister whenever I happen to see her...their parents are idiots so I would expect no better from them...

    As for me, I prefer people with a sense of honor, humor and bathe frequently...not much else matters...

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  33. I've spent a great deal of time sorting through all your comments. The best I found is the past making one better, not bitter. I have a very personal story to add to the mix; a gay son in law, who floundered for years in the clutches of his church. And hers, my daughter was recruited at age 17. A stupid decision cost my son in law his livlihood; they did divorce, my son in law got on with his life but my daughter remains in her bubble. Four children with inadequate housing,clothing, food, medical attention. They certainly have had a childhood to remember. I am nearing the very expensive end of wresting custody of the two youngest who hope we can take custody of their brother, too. We do smile and say those old bromides, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It's an adventure that gave me four grandchildren, but at what cost, and we're not talking dollars here. And so, a very happy Christmas Present to you; it makes me happy that you found your way out in time.

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  34. Good post, John. Everything happens for a reason, or so they say.
    Have a great Friday. ♥

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  35. Miss Chef has never come out to her family, after 12 years of our steady "friendship." Her mother's religious views are the reason, though I have to believe they have now reached a state of willing denial. Fortunately, we live several hours apart, and everyone in our work and social lives knows us as a couple.

    I find it fascinating the vast majority of your commenters has a story to share about someone gay they know personally. I really think that is how we will finally ease our way into social nonchalance re: homosexuality--leading our pitifully normal everyday lives in plain sight.

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  36. I was also in a similar relationship with a French man for 3 years a few years ago. There was definitely a strain and when, eventually, I was introduced to his sister, (which was a huge deal) she seemed to accept it but hated me on sight for some reason. She then spent the next year introducing him to French men that she thought he would prefer. Perhaps this said more about my nationality than me and slightly off topic, but definitely was the beginning of the end. After her reaction I was actually quite relieved that I was never introduced to his parents! It is a difficult way to be in a relationship though.

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  37. I worked with someone who was divorced with two children. He'd moved away from his home county and always talked about his 'lodger' Everyone thought he was gay but he obviously didn't want to make it public knowledge. I often felt for this anonymous man who wouldn't be talked about, didn't get invited to work 'do's' , even wasn't introduced if you happened to bump into them together in the street! Eventually, and after long 'general' conversations about homosexuality instigated 'randomly' by a couple of us he realised it wasn't ever going to be an issue for us. They are both now two of my dearest friends and over the years have become open about their relationship to all who meet them which just warms the cockles of my heart!

    I'd hope that if my son thought he was gay he would feel comfortable about telling me and he could go out into the big wide world knowing his ability to love and be loved by someone was far more important than whether that person was male or female.

    Brilliant post John...I'm so glad you've found your happy life x

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  38. So glad you realized you were in a flawed relationship. If you love someone you should never be ashamed of them. I can't believe anyone would ever have been ashamed of you, for whatever reasons - even his own sad, sad desire to stay hidden in a stupid closet. You are a bright light in this universe and nobody should ever keep you hidden away. As the immortal Patrick Swayze once said, "Nobody puts Johnny in a corner!"

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  39. As others have said, it's very sad that in this relatively enlightened age, there are still gays who feel they can't tell people what they are and feel compelled to hide the truth. Unfortunately there are still rampantly homophobic families which make that concealment necessary. Religion is usually at the bottom of it.

    You were right not to put up with all the furtiveness and look for a more honest relationship.

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    1. thank you all for your comments
      ....I guess all I wanted to say is what I remember what it was FOR ME to be in a hidden relationship rather than to judge others who perhaps feel the need to keep their sexuality secret.
      for me, it just felt wrong

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  40. Your story resonates with me, and I've no doubt with many gays before they "came out". In my case my now "husband" and I, (as a queen would say) worked in the same high profile company and never appeared together for three years. Happily 27 years later we look back on that period with mixed emotions, but are glad that for many years we have never felt the fear or need to hide who we are. When I did first start coming out to friends - I can't remember how long ago - perhaps 20 years - they all said "oh for heaven's sake, we knew that". If there was anyone who didn't, I don't know of them, and if silently, then I don't know them now anyway.

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