Saturday, July 28, 2007

I found out today that my dog is gay. He stayed at a friends house this past week while I was out of town. When I picked him up today, my friend said that he tried to copulate with my friend's male dog. He's been neutered, so I thought his sex drive was gone...I guess not. Although this new information about my dog isn't really that extraordinary (most dogs will hump just about anything), I found myself feeling sorry for him. My friends were laughing at him. I couldn't help but feel for him. Hardly anyone knows of my SSA, so I haven't ever been ridiculed, but I still feel the sharp pains of feeling different and not understood. I don't feel ashamed of my SSA, but wonder if I will ever feel normal and accepted. For those of you who are out to your friends and family, does coming out relieve some of these feelings as you encounter people who love and support you, even knowing that you are gay? I want compassion. I need someone to feel sorry for me, like I feel sorry for my dog.


J G-W said...

Well, one of the things that happens in the process of coming out is you discover a lot about who your friends are and what they are really like.

Believe it or not, some of the folks I thought would handle it best did not handle it so well. Others I thought would not handle it so well were so supportive and loving... I never would have believed it.

My whole family did not want me to tell my grandmother. They didn't think she could handle it. But you know what? She handled it better than anyone else. When I came out to her, she told me a story about how she knew a gay young man in her ward in Pittsburgh in the 1930s who was ridiculed and talked about. She said he left and went to San Francisco, and they never heard from him again. She told me that she loved me and it made no difference, and she said that she hoped that things for me would be much different than they were for that young man in her ward. Grandma was great.

There are many great, loving people out there who, if they knew, would give you incredible support. There are also some terrible schmucks out there. But one of the beautiful things about coming out is that the schmucks tend to disappear from your life. You gradually find a group of friends and family who support you for who you are, unconditionally. You also find that people stop making stupid homophobic comments to your face. Funny how that stops, when they know you're gay.

And yes, it is a wonderful thing to be able to be out of the closet and find that people love you and support you just the same.

J G-W said...

I should also add... I have no idea what kinds of complications enter the picture when you are married and trying to come out. That's something only other gay, married Mormons out there could answer...

GeckoMan said...

I have not 'come out' to many people, only to those who play a very special or significant role in my life, who I trust implicitly, such that I would want them to understand more complexity about me. I would do it for them and to deepen our relationship. It would never be to garner sympathy or support, because I would already have that mutual aspect of the relationship in place.

I would caution you to needily disclose a gay orientation to any generic group of people, particularly from church--they wouldn't strive for understanding and they don't need to know. It would just circulate and canker upon itself. I do not wish to be characterized through a jaded filter or to be given any special excuses because of who I am.

Forester, you will only begin to feel 'normal and accepted' by others when you first feel that way about yourself. Love yourself just the way you are.

Hey, can you poke fun at your own antics? Your friend wasn't being malicious, it was just funny to him. So, can you love your dog for being a bit horny? He doesn't need you to feel sorry for him, but I bet he'd love a scratch behind the ears and ball to chase.
And so it is with us...oops, well, you know what I mean (no pun intended, but on second thought, it is kinda funny!) ;)

GeckoMan said...

Just for the sake of playing 'devil's advocate' and considering another very legitimate point of view, I'm cutting and pasting the following quote from David Samsel's blog about coming out. David is a gay once-Mormon man who writes for QSaltLake. Although his position on coming out may sound 180 degrees from mine, it seems to me that we end up at about the same place: have the right motives for disclosure and love yourself for who you are. Anyways, here are his thoughts:

"I feel very strongly about the importance of coming out. Everyone deserves to live in the light, to be loved in the light. And it really does all come down to love. Coming out is an act of self-love; it’s the experience of baring your true self to those whom you love and then waiting to see if they truly love you, or if they just love the fa├žade that you created for them. There is a significant difference between being loved as you pretend to be and being loved as you are. You deserve to be loved as you truly are, by yourself, as well as by those whom you love."

I think this rationale is an appropriate attitude for disclosure to close friends or family, but if you want to remain comfortably active in church, I'm not sure if some ward members are ready for such honesty.

However, there is a gay man by the name of Rex Goode on the Disciples2 listserve that is openly out in his ward, as a faithful, temple-attending member of the church; so it can be done.

J G-W said...

I'm convinced being totally out of the closet in our wards can be done, and if more of us could do it, we should do it.

However we should be careful! I think we need to be well down the road of self-acceptance, and be comfortable enough with ourselves that we will not be torn down by the negative attitudes we will inevitably encounter.

However, as I said, I also honestly think that the negative attitudes are the minority. Most people, I have found, when you give them the opportunity, rise to the occasion, and prove just how loving Latter-day Saints can be.

It is a risk to come out, but only in risking do we open ourselves to the blessing of entering into a deeper level of trust and community with others.

Forester said...

I don't know, jgw. Do I really need to come out in order to prove to myself that I like myself? I know this isn't what you are saying, but although it would be liberating, it's really nobody's business. I can see myself now...standing up in testimony meeting, telling the ward I'm gay but I have such a strong testimony that I don't have to act on my feelings of SGA. I feel like such a hypocrite. This whole blog thing is just a way of trying to prove to myself how great I am.

J G-W said...

You are right, that's not what I was saying at all.

There are good personal reasons for coming out. They include: having a greater sense of honesty and integrity in one's life; overcoming the shame that often festers in secrecy; being able to have more meaningful relationships with people who are important to us, by helping them to understand something important about who we are.

Also, living with SSA in this society is very challenging. Coming out to our friends allows them to support us through some of the trials we must face. When I finally came out to my parents at the age of 27, the first thing they said is, "You mean you struggled with this all alone all these years?" They felt horrible, because they wished they could have supported me through this.

There is also one really good social/community-oriented reason for coming out: it challenges people's false assumptions about gay folks, and generally increases the amount of truth in the world in relation to this issue. People's misconceptions and stereotypes have harmed all of us, and it does all of us good to help educate people.

I agree with Geckoman, coming out is probably not a good way to build self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes from living our lives as we ought to live them, and being right with our Heavenly Father. And coming out is a very, very personal decision. While I can think of many good reasons to come out, I can also think of some harmful consequences of coming out, and it is up to each individual to judge the risks against the benefits.

I'm not trying to push you out of the closet!! I thought you asked: "For those of you who are out to your friends and family, does coming out relieve some of these feelings?" I was just trying to respond to your question, not suggest you ought to come out to anybody.

GeckoMan said...

You said, "This whole blog thing is just a way of trying to prove to myself how great I am."

I'm not sure how to interpret this. Do you mean you think your blog journal is fake, and that you are actually a lousy person?

I don't think so! At least, I hope that's not what you're saying. I think you've been pretty open and frank about your issues and feelings. So, not everything is rosy for you, you're often frustrated, and that's the way things usually are.

At least through the blog you know you are not alone. But what about the real world? Are you 'out' to your wife, or any other important family or close friends? If no, then how much longer are you going to hold on to your uncomfortable little secret?

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

My experience in coming out to family members has been so wonderful. I feel like it has brought me closer to them and like they are part of my life more so now than ever. Having a "big dark dirty secret" put a big distance between them and me. I feel like they are part of my life and like they understand me better now. My relationship between my sister and me had faded a whole lot after high school and her marriage. 7 years later as I have come out to her, I feel like we again are closer than ever. My relationships with each family member I have told have individually improved immeasuarably. I'm so glad that I have shared it with them.

Forrester, you are an awesome guy. You'll do what's best for you.


Since July 15, 2007