Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Shame

 

The exceptional Russell T Davies series It’s a sin, has brought back many old memories of the gay world from the 1980s. 
I wasn’t officially gay then .
No, the hatred and misinformed ideas of gay plagues and gay lifestyles shamed me into the closet so deep that not even my emotional intelligence could reach it.
This was the story of many young gay men of my generation .
We would be destined to come out later when the 1980s gave way to a more enlightened 1990s.
There was no internet then, no phones no apps ......if you were confident and ‘serious’ in having a relationship you met another man in a gay bar or from adds in the newspapers. If you weren’t you trolled around the same gay bars or else ambled around the parks after dusk.
I met my first proper boyfriend through the Sheffield Star.
He was closeted and angry and was generous and exciting and the relationship was a real abuse disaster waiting to happen. 
The abuse did happen and a couple of years I walked away with my head kind of held high and my mind firmly fixed about what I would and would not accept from a relationship with a man. 
I would never again accept that it was alright to be denied, to be hidden away, to be lied about.
I deserved better than that.

Before I met my husband, I dated a guy from chesterfield . He was a lovely, big teddy bear of a man, a broad country speaking animal feed wholesaler who worked through the Pennines and for several months we were happy with me visiting him , mainly at weekends or visa versa. One week day he unexpectedly found himself working in Sheffield and we met up for coffee and before we sat down I saw the wedding ring on his finger.
It wasn’t one of those he’s married kind of scenarios  at all
But it was a case of him wearing a wedding ring to pretend he was straight in the eyes of his colleagues and his customers. 
I reluctantly walked away from the relationship and didn’t look back 
Shame has no place in being gay
Shame has no place in being anything


64 comments:

  1. Well done you...absolutely. I loved It's a sin, but found it a bit funny thinking of the 80's as 'vintage'!
    Perhaps your chap is in a different 'space' now? maybe he has changed.....a gay chap on First Dates recently mentioned finding a Hus-bear and that sounded lovely!
    I love your determined, absolute, stand no nonsense
    attitude to life now John x

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  2. So, you're telling us that thirty some years ago when it was quite common to be terminated from a job because of your sexual orientation, you walked away from a man who wore a wedding band because he was frightened?

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    1. No Dave I did not....I walked away because he was stuck in the closet and wouldn’t be moved from it. The ring was merely a symbol of that shame he felt .
      I had already experienced the huge difficulties where one partner was hidden and the other open ...it was a recipe for disaster then
      I did what I felt was right at the time
      And so did he

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    2. Dave-John did say he was"reluctant"and he I'm sure would have spent a long time trying to make the relationship work and not have given up on it in a flippant manner x

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    3. Sorry to interfere John x

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    4. I get where Dave was coming from after re reading , I didn’t quite make it clear that he was in no way going to leave his closet

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    5. I remember those times. The discrimination in the workplace for homosexual men was appalling. I was only too happy to be the token girlfriend for business functions and similar. Those days are long behind us fortunately.None of my personal friends ever got married to a woman and had kids for promotion career purposes. They were authentic homosexuals

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    6. They were terrible times Dave. The discrimination was appalling

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    7. Yes, I agree just looking back at my family’s attitudes to homosexuality when I was a child is a painful exercise .

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  3. There's a theme going on this week. Shame exists in too many forms. For instance today is world holocaust day, and to this day Jews feel ashamed of something they have no need to feel shame for. As do many Germans who also feel the shame of their forefathers. It's a destructive emotion mentally and has no place in modern society, yet still it exists. My last boyfriend and I parted ways when he felt unable to commit wholeheartedly to me because of his shame. It wasn't an issue for me but sadly I see him now as a lovely man who will never be free from the shackles he created for himself. His shame in itself creates a real shame, namely that a man cannot be himself.

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    1. I get that mave
      You cannot carry others’ shame

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  4. Barbara Anne4:16 pm

    Shame should have no place in any life. If you feel shame, think, think, and either change or stop what you find shameful or change your thinking and decide it's fine for you. It is essential to be true to yourself. That's my 2 cents worth.

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank u for that . When I separated from my husband, the shame I felt was overwhelming

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    2. That's interesting John, when I was separated and later divorced from my first husband I felt an overwhelming shame as well. Like I wasn't "good enough".

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  5. You're right about that, but easier said than done. I'm sure I still struggle subconsciously with shame and homophobia. People who grew up in our time had it a lot better than those before us, but we did not escape unscathed.

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    1. (Let me add that despite whatever residual homophobia I probably carried, I came out in 1986!)

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    2. I think one of the benefits of coming out later is that you are almost fully cooked . I knew myself, I knew it was the right thing to do and I benefitted from the fact it was the right time ...the right time as in the right cultural time where homophobia sort of went out of fashion

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    3. I frequently wonder what it will be like for gay children who have truly accepting parents who will not only "accept" their children but will actively encourage the traits that make them who they are. In ALL regards. What an amazing blossoming we might see.
      As for shame itself- it has had and still does way too much power in my life even though I have actively tried to root out the sources and deal with it. I'm better but not "cured" of it.

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    4. Those parents are now there and those straight children in schools are so much more accepting of sexuality differences.

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    5. Yes! Thankfully.

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  6. If you can't be honest about who you are, it eats away at you and your relationships (gay or straight, friends, family...whatever).

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    1. Yes regardless of sexuality and gender

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  7. shame is a useless emotion. if one feels shame they need to do something to remedy it and not continue to carry it with them.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Ahhhhh.....shame is an awful gift given to us by others, be it society, our parents or ourselves. I know I have it but I, like so many others, am learning to properly love myself unconditionally which is the best shame buster of all. Poor fella, I hope he learned some self love and learned to be who is actually is.

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  10. My step cousin died from this in 1995. His family told us that he'd returned from abroad with some type of mystery "tropical disease". Only later did we discover that it had been AIDS...he was only 34 and not out of the closet. A lovely man. Arilx

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    1. Aril,
      How sad the family felt they had to lie to maintain everyone’s good name

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  11. Shame is a very weighty burden isn't it?

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  12. I am binge watching it's a sin. Shocked at the care in the hospital. My late dad was fiercely homophobic and I never knew why. As a mum of 2 grown boys I cant imagine rejecting them cos of their sexuality. Love them too much. Theres room for all sorts in this world. Sadly some people dont see that.

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    1. I was a psychiatric nurse in the 1980 s and so had little contact with the hospital care of patients
      We had little training of it and even less discussion

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  13. I think my parents’ basic driving force was to be respectable and fit in. I, being a rebellious black sheep, didn’t follow their plan. I married a teacher and was ‘a real disappointment’. I was expected to marry up. My father made peace with me on his deathbed. My mother never did. I’ve been married to my teacher for 49 years. I follow my own star.

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  14. You know, it is easy for some people to sit in judgement of others. It is almost as if they cease to see the people they are judging as human beings. They are not people. They are adjectives.

    You know when this all changed for me?

    It was in the mid 80s. My then husband's cousin was gay. It caused a great deal of shock in the family, and right away, people began to align themselves. Her own mother felt it was a choice, and that Kim had always been difficult. This was just one more way to be a problem.

    Me, I was an in-law, and I kind of felt like I had no horse in the race, so to speak. Our relationship was unchanged because it didn't matter to me. One day we were talking, and she said, "If this were a choice, why would I, out of so many choices that I COULD make, make the decision that would cost me most of my family?" The pain in her voice...I knew that she had told me the absolute truth. That she could no more help being gay than I could be the mother of my children.

    Kim is the godmother of my youngest daughter. I have never known anyone with as pure a heart as that woman. She is kind, hardworking, independent, thoughtful. A perfect role model.

    Sorry for the 'novel'.

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    1. Nicely remembered and written . Thank you

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  15. Homophobia is still shocking and upsetting. Lesbians also suffered because of it, but not nearly as much as gay men (in my opinion). I remember the trepidation I felt when I joined the 'Pride Committee' at my work. But, it is better to live an authentic life and feel right with oneself. Not everyone can do so, and I would never judge anyone who can't but it is very freeing to just be yourself. Thank the Goddess that the world is changing!

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    1. And has changed from those unrecognisable days of the 1980s

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  16. I grew up Catholic and, boy oh boy, do they know how to pile on the shame and guilt!! I quit all of that after my father's death and when I think back, I cannot imagine that I believed and followed all of their silly rules for so long. Too much judging going on when all Jesus wanted was for us to treat others as we would want to be treated!
    I don't have religion now and am better for it.

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    1. And boy are their services soooooloooonnng

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  17. I feel shame at not only a failed relationship but also somehow being a person someone would want to bully as people may think there's no smoke without fire x

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    1. Yes the shame of a failed relationship has sharp teeth

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  18. My Mother terrified me. Catholic Church. She'd write me letters telling me she would kill herself if I was gay. So... for a number years I wasn't. I was bi. And then one day... can't say what changed it... I'd had enough and at the age of 27 came out of the closet. I never went back. And yes, my Mother? She did try... but that's what 911 is for.

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    1. A flippant comment with some weight and behind it.
      I get that humour I really do ...I never came out to my mother
      I really couldn’t be bothered with the drama

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  19. I'm so glad you wrote about this. I respect people's choices and the decision to come out is a personal one. However, we've had gay friends in long-term relationships who always had one foot in the closet. Family didn't know, work didn't know. We tried to support them but when their shame was reflected back onto us (invited to dinner parties to discover we were expected to be in the closet for the evening, for example), we stepped away.

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    1. Yes, i felt being hidden was a discourtesy to all those that came out so vociferously before us

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  20. The closet is definitely its own form of hell. And once you come out, it's like getting out of prison! I've always made it clear to people that I will not be closeted for anyone. If they want to live their lives in the closet, that's their business. But I will not join them.

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  21. Shame is a tough place to be. Hopefully, today, people are living their lives to the fullest.

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  22. You could try to live in the present not in the past. Gays are as accepted in our society as heterosexuals these days yet some gays still want to hold on to that idea that they're "different" or special.
    I'm gay and I'm not different or special, I'm as much a part of this society as anybody else and I don't expect to be treated differently or thought about differently. I don't keep harping on about the past and how things used to be, I appreciate that I can be a part of today's society just the same as anybody else. Then along comes somebody who can't let go of the past and move on and makes a point of proclaiming how "different" they are. My brother doesn't keep proclaiming he's heterosexual so why do you and others keep proclaiming you're gay? We're "ordinary" just the same as anyone else.

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    1. I disagree ...but I get what you are saying x

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    2. Nice, BJ. The old “I never had any problems being gay so it didn’t happen to anyone else. What’s the big deal?” Argument wins every time. How nice for those who have lived a charmed homophobia free life. Nobody says gay folk are special. The only thing special is that they STILL get kicked out of their homes and families, arrested, shunned, abused, attacked, and even killed in parts of this country and the world simply for being gay. Their not “holding onto the past,” Tgeyre experiencing it in the present and still struggle for equality under the law. No, no one needs to carry the past, or cry about the inhumanity and persecution they never experienced and have no concern fir those who still experience it; but they also have no right to silence those whose lives were (and are) a lot more hellish, dangerous, and lonely. Stop making comments as if your experience is the norm and you somehow know more about the “lack of persecution” than those who actually experienced it. And just be grateful you didn’t.

      Sorry if wanting and expecting the same level of freedom, liberty, acceptance, protections, and inclusion makes me come across as thinking I’m special. I’m funny like that, since I tend to want that for everyone else, too.

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    3. Breen Lantern -- My comment was to John, it's his blog and he's replied saying he gets what I'm saying, he might not agree but he gets it.

      You are obviously more narrow minded, however I wasn't talking to you. Your instruction to "stop making comments" applies equally to yourself.

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    4. “Gays are as accepted in our society as heterosexuals are these days.” I assume you are talking about the UK. Let’s examine that, the church of England’s position is that marriage is between a man and a woman. So no gays are not as accepted.

      In my view until people think of sexuality as they do right and left handedness we have a ways to go! If I were left handed and not allowed to marry in Church, even though I could not longer be fired for being left handed, too right I would still keep harping on about it.

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    5. I have not really experienced discrimination but I don’t look for it.
      That doesn’t mean that some people still have a dreadful time fitting in , being accepted being hated or disliked,
      For them we need to fight the bigotry , and fight bigotry of any sort regardless of sex and sexuality and gender

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  23. This:
    "Shame has no place in being gay
    Shame has no place in being anything"
    Truer words...

    XOXO

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  24. When I came out at work in the 1970s the most common reaction was not so much open hostility [though I did hear whispers of that behind my back] but more a kind of 'sympathy' at being so 'afflicted', with the assumption that I must wish I hadn't been gay. ["Oh, what a terrible shame for you!"]. I was once asked by a well-meaning, I'm sure, senior female officer if I'd considered asking my doctor for 'treatment'. These were common attitudes then, not helped one bit by the then anti-gay hysteria of just about all tabloid newspapers, as well as some 'quality' ones. [Wasn't it only as recently as the 90s when the Murdoch papers announced that if any of their 'agony aunts' voiced support for equalising the age of consent they would be fired?]. But back then I didn't have the ready vocabulary to respond measurably and intelligently to the 'what-a-pity!' stances I commonly came up against. Even before I came out and despite the then absolute condemnation from the R.C. Church to which I was devoted, I can honestly say that one emotion I've never felt at being gay has been shame.

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    1. Interesting Raymondo
      And power to you coming out so early x

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    2. Not really so early, JayGee. I was then in my late 20s. Now I have unbounded admiration for those who do it when still in their teens, despite being aware of the ructions it can still cause in one's family and social lives.

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  25. Flashback to the stress of hiding, self hatred, double lives, denial of true self, it was a difficult time to be who you are. Glad I survived. Never going back.

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