Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Coming Out

One scene in last night's film held a certain resonance.
It was the drama filled scene when a post teen boy was outed by his parents in the hysterical Aids times of 1984, and the recognition wasn't one from my own life, but one I knew Chris had gone through.
With typical Chris understatement , he merely said when we chatted about the film on the way home " it was a difficult time coming out in the 80s"

I came out in the early 90s.
I was in my late  twenties when I started, so I escaped that parent angst so many men and indeed boys put themselves through. My father died in 1989 and I decided very early on, that declaring my gayness to a mother with her own problems would solve nothing. My sexuality would  have been hijacked by her natural love for drama and made into an issue of hers and not mine.
No, my coming out was centred around the most important people in my life...my siblings and my urban family of close friends.

And I never had a bad reaction.

Of course some of my extended family had their reservations about it all , a fact which,  through patience and non confrontation on my part resolved itself eventually. My brother apparently cried a bit and my sisters, as I knew they would be, were fairly non plussed about it all.
I think it helped that I came out more with a whisper rather than a full on queer-in-your-face bang.

My best mate, who still is a pragmatic and friendly Yorkshire man, just nodded slowly over his pint in the Back lounge of The Dog and Partridge when I told him " I guess you want me go with you to the odd gay bar now" he said with a wry chuckle . He never even paused for dramatic effect.

You cannot quite imagine how wonderful it is to share something like this with people you care about and not illicit a powerful reaction......watching another scene from the film Pride last night, reminded me so much of this coming out time. It was a gentle scene where the elderly Welsh miner Cliff ( the lugubrious Bill Nighy) simply says " I'm gay" to his lifelong friend Hefina ( Imelda Staunton) as they are quietly buttering bread  for a miner's benefit party.  Her buttering knife pauses very briefly as she replies " I know" . and the pair continue their work  in companionable silence.
No hysteria.. No angst.......
Just normality

Yes.......I was very lucky indeed.


83 comments:

  1. Lucky indeed John. I have a grand-daughter who is suffering because of her sexuality and has been for some years. I so feel for her.

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    1. I guess she is helped along the way by a broad minded and loving grandma like you pat

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  2. What a film, what a wonderful story. The audience in our little cinema broke out into spontaneous applause at the end... a thing I've never experienced before.

    I think you made the right call with you mum and dad John. Peter my cousin never did tell his mother. He died with her and I at his bedside, he was more worried that the doctor when he came, would see the fag in the ashtray by the bed. I said 'Don't worry Pete, he'll look at me and think what a cow for smoking in a guy's bedroom!'

    LLX

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    1. It wasn't the right time to tell my dad.... I was not even sure about it when he was alive....
      I think he would have been shocked to the core.l but I would like to think he would have come around eventually

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  3. My bestie told me during a sleepover when we were about 18. I simply said, "Finally!" and had to put up with him dealing with me not being surprised (he was hoping for some drama, duh). But really, we were of the opposite gender and having a platonic sleepover. A bit of a tell, really!

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    1. Maryanne....... It's not rocket science it it?

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    2. No it isn't, nor should it have ever been, but I guess for some it was, and for a lot fewer, it still is, and maybe one day it will just be as easy as telling someone how you have your coffee. (Black, like my men? LOL!)

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  4. heck i have a glimmering that one of my five is trying to go down that lonely road , but theres no hurry, all in his own good time and it wont make me love him an ounce less

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    1. Kate.... It's not a lonely road.... Believe me....it's not lonely as long as you have the love and support of family and friends......
      Living a lie .... Is so much more lonely believe me

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. What's was that susan? I missed you

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    2. Call me Susan once more and you'll miss me forever!! :-(

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  6. A very tender post John.

    Jean
    x

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  7. Im of an age where when I was a teenager there was a little bit of gossip, but it was just accepted when my friend came out. It took him huge amounts of courage and due to him not getting too much hassle a few other boys came out as well.

    Thanks for sharing this John, there maybe someone out there that needs just this post.

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    1. I was a late starter.... But then better late than never

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  8. When I was a boy "coming out" was just a phrase that village kids used. They'd knock on our door and say "Is your Neil coming out?" I am not sure when the new meaning of the phrase took hold but I would have imagined that immediate family and friends would, like Hefina in "Pride", have inklings about a gay person's sexuality before any announcement was ever made. It shouldn't come as a complete surprise.

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    1. Having said this...my twin sister didn't have a clue

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  9. From what I have heard from gay friends, the anticipation of coming out is miles worse than the actual experience. I think it is quite common for parents to react by saying something like, "Do you really think we didn't know?"

    I have a young - extremely camp - gay friend, and I don't think he even had to bother to admit it to his mother. Mind you, things have changed a lot in the last 30 years.

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    1. My best reaction tom was from an old friend I worked with is psychiatry
      All she said was " thank fuck for that...something to make you more interesting!"

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    2. That was a good push down the path to Interesting, and look how far you've come...bulldog fannies and all.

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    3. Bulldog fannies indeed !

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  10. My grandparents were uncomfortable coming to our wedding because I had been living with my husband before we were married! I wouldn't give a toss if my son told me he was gay. I would just want him to be happy!

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    1. "I would just want him to be happy!"

      Exactly right!

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    2. What a shame.......I adored my grandmother....I am just glad I never was old enough to fight the need to tell her
      Her rejection ( by nature of the generation ) would have floored me

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  11. I'm so happy for you John that you had a wonderful and supporting cast of friends and family. I'm sorry Chris's experience wasn't as kind, but you did manage to find each other which is serendipitous! If only humanity could remember that our differences make us more human and get on with it.

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    1. Funny Chris' mum and dad are incredibly supportive now...

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  12. I have never had the conversation with my parents. I figured that by time I brought the same man home for the holidays the third year in a row, they would figure it out. They did, little has ever been said, but they have included him as a member of the family over the past 22 years.

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    1. I love this...
      Everything unsaid........just proves things don't alway need to be verbalized
      Would you get married?

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    2. We are waiting for laws to be changed, at the moment it is a quagmire, made worse by the fact that he teaches at a University in a different state and has to file tax returns in that state. If we both working in the same state, we could get married tomorrow, Virginia started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples yesterday.

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  13. my father was so anti gay that though i wasn't really sure i knew what it was at a very young age, i knew i was all for it!

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  14. The only person I know of in my family who was gay was my great aunt Mabel. She was very eccentric and lived with another woman for many many years......no one in the family ever met her. I asked my Mom one time if Auntie was a lesbian and she was horrified "Oh goodness no....she's just an old spinster sharing her house." That was what the whole family thought until after her death when they found the love letters between them. They were shocked. Such a sad life to have to hide away who you are, to pretend and play games to keep others feeling safe and happy. What does it matter for heavens sake. I'm so glad they had each other.

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    1. At least she found someone
      Surely everyone can celebrate that?

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    2. You'd think so.

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  15. A friend of mine from nursing school, a man, was so obviously gay and yet, he never came out, instead he married a woman, had children, was married for twenty-seven years and is now going through a divorce and has, at last, "come out." I put the quotes around that because everyone always knew he was gay and so, in a way, he was only coming out to himself. I feel so sorry that he had to live within such artificial confines for so many years. He was raised Catholic.
    But you know, he wanted a family. He wanted children, and back in the eighties there was no way to do that except in the traditional man-woman way.
    Still, it sorrows me. He would have been as loved and supported as anyone on this earth by his friends, at least.
    When one of my daughters told me she was a lesbian when she was fourteen, fifteen? I said, "I know, honey. Do you want to go see the Indigo Girls?" and we did.

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    1. I worked for several years with two men who lived together. They were very religious and involved in church activities. All of us were certain they were gay. Then one day they broke up and each got married to a woman and had children. They are great dad, and they have made their lives work for them, but it seems so sad.

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    2. Ms moon.....you are a cracking mom!

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    3. Jan
      How sad...how very very sad

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  16. I've been the "the friend" twice. It was not a surprise. :-)

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  17. Lovely post. The comment about it making you interesting made me laugh. Although it may sound "off' and please don"t take this wrong, some of my best and most interesting friends are gay. I believe this is because they are not so hung up on the man/woman thing. Just my thought. Have a good day Mr.Grey. Mary from Alabama

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    1. Mary from Alabama
      You have a nice day too x

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  18. I just don't like any labels.....but like to view a person as a whole. My father had passed when my brother came out. Had he lived he would have spit in his face and thrown him out. My mom gave him her undying love and affection. He was the last of her nine babies. He waited so long....after 7 children and 4 women. Lot of wasted time. But many adorable nieces and nephews all of whom love and accept their dad.

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    1. Linda
      Every generation have improved gay acceptance
      The next generation .......will have it sorted

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  19. ok I will try again. New to me News flash, The good old US of A has cleared the way for 30 (count them; 30 ) states for Legal Same Sex Marriage!! Never thought I would live to see the day! Time for a Party! See you all later

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    1. Yes! Isn't it wonderful? We're slowly catching up to the rest of the civilized world!

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    2. How things change..... Oh I remember a tv soap having a gay kiss ( it was a tiny peck on the lips) in it ( in the 80s)
      And what a big fucking deal it was............
      Yes things have changed

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  20. I'm very glad coming out is so much easier now than it was in the dark days of illegality and widespread homophobia. It's good that admitting to being gay is often as unremarkable as admitting to a taste for ice cream (or scotch eggs....)

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    1. Nicely put my friend
      Wouldn't it be wonderful to be hosted only because you scoff too many scotch eggs

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  21. The times, they are a changing. Finally.

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  22. Let's hope we will see a world where there is no need to 'come out'..that being gay or lesbian isn't a big deal to anyone.
    Jane x

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  23. The unconscious response in people to The Self and The Other seems so ingrained that it makes me despair sometimes that we will ever have Acceptance. A mitigating factor though is sometimes those who we'd not expect acceptance in have it.
    Cheers to you and Chris,
    Mike

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    1. Mike
      Oh acceptance is JUST around the corner.....I will see total acceptance within my lifetime.... Perhaps not in the the Middle East or Russia ..... But certainly in the west

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  24. A boy I had a bit of a crush on for about five minutes during high school came out sometime after we graduated. I was rather surprised, but it didn't bother me. I felt kind of foolish for wanting to date him at one time. If I were gay and told my parents, they would have shit themselves.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. But would they have accepted you eventually?

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  25. I remember when a new good friend told me he was gay. To be honest I was a little underwhelmed as he had built up this 'thing' for a while and I was all excited wondering what he was about to tell me. I think I said 'Is that it?'. I would hope my son would not need to come out if he were gay that it would be a natural progression as it is for heterosexual kids x

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    1. Natural progression........
      Wouldn't that be lovely

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  26. On my nephew's first visit to meet his partners parents he said 'How long have your parents known you're gay?'
    The reply 'In about 10 minutes'

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    1. Hester...the best one liner in the comments!

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    2. Oh, very good, Hester!

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  27. Lovely post John x

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  28. Just yesterday, the Supreme Court let the Appeal's Court ruling stand, that states could not ban same sex marriage. Did that make sense? Everyone can now be married in our state and the Baptists are apoplectic. The right wing conservative moral majority televangelists have been preaching for years that gays were the cause for earthquakes, tsunamis et al. Unbelievable that anyone would give those guys money.

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    1. It's good to hear the great news........I just hope there is no back lash

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  29. When daughter came out, I had an inkling but she had been away at university and job for such a long time it was kind of a given. But she never said anything to me.
    When she told me it was brought on by some disagreement we were having about my desire for her to look into a job offer in Japan, (really nice job offer) and then it came out she wanted to stay in California with her partner. Not the best time to tell me.
    I gave up so much when I married my X and lost so much. I didn't want that to happen to her. But it is her life and not mine to live.
    And I am not proud of this but I have always supported my children and to be the last person told was kind of sad for me. A very important part of your life and you can't talk to your mum ?
    But that is all me and not daughter. Most of all I just want for her to be happy and have a job she likes.
    Sometimes life is just life and we live it the best we can.

    I hope I can find this movie here. Sound lovely and I adore Bill Nighy.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. As a bit of insight, knowing that all families are different...I told my parents last because I knew 100% that my friends would not reject me. The generational difference in acceptance made me a less sure of my parents' potential reactions. There had always been a hint of distaste and suspicion when discussing the possibility of other family members being gay, so I wanted to be sure I had a supportive network in place before treading softly there.

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    2. Thank you gayle and Alison......it's intereting to see the issue from both sides

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    3. I knew she was gay but I felt it was her choice when to tell me.
      But when I was suggesting she look into the job in Japan ... that's when she told me. Not the best of time.
      When I asked why after all the years of supporting her various endeavors she felt I would not be positive she is my daughter after all and I love her.
      But like I said that all on me that I felt sad. She even had a postcard that she showed me and her friend in England was asking have you told your mum yet ?
      I also supported my children and ran inference with the X. She has never told him but I am sure he found out because he has erased her from his life. I have heard from friends he only talks about the two sons. We have no contact with him. He is a sociopath and we stay away.
      I just wish she would have told me earlier.

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  30. Thanks for sharing this, John. I didn't even come out to myself until I was 30! That was in 2000, so an even more accepting time, though I was still a bit nervous that my old college friends would second-guess our past relationships. Ill-founded worries; my brother's response was "That doesn't surprise me."

    My parents were another story, but after several years they have come around, and as a family that pretends to have no emotions, I think our relationship is better for having had to speak honestly to each other about something.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that Alison...
      In some way I would have liked to have come out to my parents....but it was not THAT important to me to do so

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  31. The only time i ever cared about someone's sexual orientation was if i wanted to have sex with them. That said, there was one time i really liked a guy and he came out to me. This was in the late 1970's, and i must admit, i was relieved that it wasn't that he didn't like *me,* but rather he just wasn't interested in my plumbing. We made a pact that we'd never steal each other's boyfriends, and we never did.

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    1. This comment made me chuckle like mad Megan x

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  32. My son was 15 (now 26) when he told me he was gay. He was in his bedroom and he called out to me. I knocked and went into the room and there he was on his bed in a teary eyed, snotty nosed mess. He said Mum I have something to tell you...and cried harder, I put my arms around him and said what is it love... he said .... Mum I'm gay,... then cried harder still. I just said... "Oh love is that all... I knew years ago". I was really upset for him that he suffered such anxiety about something that really wasn't about to phase me. He is my son I love him no matter what he is... gay, straight, grumpy, happy. This was in 2004 not the 80's of course .... but the angst is still relevant I think.

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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    1. Jo
      Thank you for that
      This is the best post comment today!
      I luv u
      X

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  33. I remember being fresh out of college and working at my first job in a CPA firm in Houston, TX when we first started hearing about this new disease, AIDS (1986, maybe?). My immediate supervisor was just a few years older than me and a friend, and she confided to me in a somewhat bemused manner that her older brother (who her family had always suspected was gay, but had never come out to them) had contracted the disease. Sadly, he died very quickly. It was just a terribly confusing and scary and sad time for so many people...

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  34. Glad you did, and glad you got (mainly) positive support! ..... And so you should!

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  35. I've utter respect for anyone coming out. It must take courage and I'm very glad that it's become much more acceptable. The haters are still out there but luckily they're not so easy to find.
    Really good post John.

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    1. I appreciate your words kev thank you

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