A personal announcement, emphatic thank-you, and cheers to Fedora.

Blondish83 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
Blondish83 wrote:

This was also right after Bush had been elected

I don't know if this is healing or deteriorating, but I first interpreted that as the band fronted by Gavin Rossdale getting elected to something.

This made me laugh and disturb people near my desk at work. Thanks to you sir.

On a side note I've been told I perform an acceptable version of Glycerine at Karaoke. I freaking love the cello in that song and I let the natural scratch in my singing voice go crazy.

Yeah, that's one of those songs that cuts right into me, cliched as it might be.

Blondish83 wrote:

Thanks for all the support. It further validates my decision opening up to this group.

I have shared more with these Good(jer) people than I ever thought I could/would, and I have never ever been hurt or let down by any of them. There is so much love and respect on these forums, I sometimes forget I am on the Internet.

Thanks for giving us your trust, and congrats on the 30th too!

So Friday was my one year anniversary of having come out as trans in this thread.

Just wanted to thank everybody again for being completely and utterly awesome.

Woot! Happy anniversary!

Happy Anniversary, Hypatian! A very courageous thing you did. Kudos!

This is still one of my favorite threads on the internet.

Happy anniversary Hypatian, thank you for continuing to share your journey with us.

Yeah, what they all said. Happy anniversary!

Hypatia, I wish you nothing but the best as you continue your journey. I'm in the Pittsburgh area on occasion. We should get you, RadicalAns, SuperDave, and Bombsfall together at some point and have lunch sometime.

To the topic of coming out, I had an interesting weekend with some struggles of my own. It was the weekend of our family reunion that we have every two years or so. It inspired a bit of an essay that I posted over on reddit, but I figured I'd post it here, too.

I wrote:

It's August 16, 2013, and I'm driving. The highway I'm on will take me to the home of my childhood, and most of my adulthood; the home of my parents. Like many of my generation, after college, I returned to my parents' home, and stayed for a while. In my case, though, I got comfortable. I had enough income to be financially independent. But I remained in that house. Even now, two years after moving out, I still feel mixed feelings about returning. I'm nervous enough that I can feel my pulse through my neck.

It's November 14, 2011. I'm in the kitchen of that house, returning a dirty dish or looking for a snack. My parents had been away for the weekend, visiting my sister on the other side of the state. My father asks if I had attended church while they were away. I say no. The first domino falls.

That evening, I came out to them. They were the last in this particular chain of people I was coming out to. But I had planned on waiting a bit, until I was fully prepared to move. That afternoon, a PFLAG-recommended book had come in from Amazon. I had actually just started reading it when my mother came down to the basement (yes, I lived in my parents' basement) and started questioning why I hadn't gone to church. This would ultimately lead to a much bigger fight over my rejection of Catholicism and theism in general. As it turns out, my coming out as gay overshadowed my coming out as an atheist, until about a week later. But that's a story for another time.

It's October 15, 2011. About to roll over to October 16. I'm at a Holiday Inn, in Westlake, Ohio, in a large banquet hall, filled with people my age, mostly men, but unified in one thing: games. We all love games. Video games, card games, board games. Well, two things. We were all members of the same online gaming forum, which is why we're gathered here. Most of us had just met each other in person the day before, even if we'd been acquainted through this forum for years prior. The man I had worked with all year to help make this happen is sitting next to me, while I play a fighting game on an old Sega Genesis. Beer had been consumed. I had just won a match, and was ready to be done, when my friend hands off the controller to one of the few women present, with some kind of teasing remark. I brush off the offer of a new opponent and stand up, off to grab another beer. Surprised at my complete failure to recognize an opportunity to flirt, my friend pulls me aside.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but... Are you... Heterosexual?"

"No."

That's it, I thought. I was out. To one person, but I was out.

The weeks that followed, between that coming out and my parents, included coming out to the online gaming forum, where I received the strongest outpouring of support I could have hoped for, two cousins, and an aunt and uncle. I was testing the waters. Stumbled over awkward language (using the phrase "I am a homosexual" is NOT the best way to come out). Gauging reactions, and my own capacity to deal with them. Ultimately, though, I knew none of them were the same as telling my parents.

It's November 20, 2011. I am coming back from a weekend of liberation and celebration. I had found myself among friends in Columbus, Ohio, going to my first gay bar, then to Cincinnati, to see the musical Wicked. Going back was an agonizing three hour drive, thinking of returning to an awkward home, with distraught parents, struggling to understand a son they thought they knew. When I pulled up to the house, though, I proceeded as though nothing had really changed.

In the past month, I had been working on moving out. Friends in Akron, Ohio had recently rented a house. There was room for me. I was throwing things away that I didn't want to bother moving, and packing everything else. But this evening, I wasn't quite ready to start moving out. That didn't really matter. My mother began talking with me, asking me the typical questions you'd expect from a shocked, in-denial parent about their gay child. It was at this point that things exploded, and the question of my atheism came to the fore. I left the house that night, to stay in a hotel. I stayed there for the next three days, returned home for an awkward Thanksgiving, and moved out the next day.

That was it, right? I was out, now. Independent again for the first time since college. No scrutiny, no obligation to attend mass to keep the family in peace, no denial of who I was. The people I cared about knew, and I was done coming out. Right?

It's August 17, 2013. I'm wearing two rainbow-colored bracelets, in the middle of a family reunion, with people who I mostly don't really know, and I struggle to remember their names. These people aren't that important, right? They don't need to know.

"What's going on in your life these days?"

"Hey, Michael, haven't seen you for years! What's new?"

"We need to get you a wife!"

There are people here who know, but nobody talks about it. Not even me. Mostly, I've actively chosen when and where to be out, but it's here that I truly realize, I'm not really out.

I'm in a complicated closet. The list of people I'm out to has grown steadily. But after I worked to tear down the closet I was familiar with, I started building a new one. One that I had voluntarily constructed. My first closet formed around me, and I barely noticed. I denied it was even there. I'm watching myself build this one, and it's worse than before, by far.

It started with my mother's request that I not tell a few specific family members. My great aunt, in her 90's, whom she insisted wouldn't understand. An uncle on my father's side, who is also my godfather. Why I listened, I'm not sure, but I did. I let their discomfort become mine.

A gay friend of mine who has been out for more than a decade helped me through a lot of things shortly after coming out myself. More than a year ago, he warned me against this. The only way that I can change someone's comfort level with my homosexuality is to show that I am comfortable with it.

This doesn't mean shouting from the rooftops, or making every introduction, "Hi, I'm Michael, I'm gay." It means not being afraid to correct someone when they say, "We need to get you a wife!" with, "You mean husband." It means not holding back when your family members are swapping funny stories about weird sleepwalking occurrences when you have one to share about your former boyfriend. It means that you shouldn't avoid talking about the cute Québécois guy you met recently as the motivation for starting to learn French. It means that when you're at a family reunion and someone proposes a simple icebreaker, to share five things about yourself that the rest of the family doesn't know so they get to know you better, you don't grab your car keys and run. Whatever the other four things are, on my turn, without a doubt, one of them should be to say, "I am gay."

*hugs* Good luck to you, NSMike. Family can be very very rough when you care for them and yet they don't understand.

And yeah, we should totally do lunch some time. Let me know when you're going to be in town, and I'm totally up for it. I'm still sad that I begged off that one time with the Dave and Busters meet-up thing. That was deep in the bad years, and I was just so terrified of knowing people. (Which is so weird to look back on.)

We forgive so much of our families. It's hard. They are our family.

Thank you, all of you, for sharing stories about your bravery and your struggles. Ultimately I have far simpler challenges but I can look here for inspiration on living a fuller life.

Hypatian, congratulations on all of the progress you're making. You've come a long way in the last year, and I hope all the best for you.

NSMike, your insight and resolve are inspiring. I do mean that sincerely. Hopefully you, too, have a lot of real happiness ahead of you.

Thanks for sharing that story NSMike. I came out young and having been out for half of my life (15 years) I can share that I have not stopped coming out. You only come out once for each person but there are hundreds and thousands of people in your life. I just came out to this gaming community 12 years after an assault I suffered at a convention for my suspected orientation that forced me to closet myself in all my gaming activities.

Even today I am being considered for a promotion and am not sure how to reveal my orientation to my new peers. I will likely follow my usual mention of my 'partner' when discussing weekend plans. I let them connect the dots and ask me. It saddens me that me and the love of my life have been together 7 years and I have to pretend he is a long term roommate for fear of workplace bias. We have been together longer than many I work with have been married (some with multiple marriages in the 7 years). However, I am always touched by the warmth and caring I get from nearly all I tell and after one of our legendary dinner parties any uncertainty is passed with regard to their support for me or my husband.

I dream of the day when I can discuss my weekend plans with my husband openly at work and abroad and its so mundane they talk about our room remodel instead his gender. We are getting there and I can't help but feel its happening one quiet 'outing' at a time.

Well, some things are happening, and I initially posted it in the Atheism thread, but it's spread out to a more general issue.

Here's what's going on.

The question.

The email.

The current state of affairs.

Aw Mike Hopefully they just need some time to process.

Just had an hour and a half conversation with my mother. So, I've kinda made the concession, just on this occasion, to keep to myself. In addition to that, though, I told her that we're too quiet on all of this. That the elephant in the room (not so much atheism, but homosexuality) is hanging over us too much. So, I'm hoping to get some communication moving between us. Increase some understanding.

One thing that baffled me is that she told me they feel like I'm all about the gay now, that it comes across in everything I do. I was just like, "Wha? I wish, I might pick up more guys that way." It's entirely in their heads, because they know about it now, and didn't before. I don't know if they're willing to acknowledge that, though, because when I said, "I don't even remotely understand what you mean," she couldn't explain it.

Overall, I think it's just better if I go and support my dad for now.

You're absolutely making the right decision.

If you want to avoid 'talking' to people that might cause you anxiety, wear a scarf around your neck, and if people begin to talk to you, just whisper back, in a hoarse voice 'laryngitis' and point at your throat.

It might seem like a cheat, but it get's you out of any verbal interactions during the service (avoiding endorsing the faith), and means you only have to lie about your health, not yourself when people approach you to 'chat'.

Could be the lesser of two evils for you in reconciling 'closeting' yourself for your parents during all this.

NSMike wrote:

Overall, I think it's just better if I go and support my dad for now.

Doing it for all the right reasons. Hope it's not too hostile an environment for you, and you guys do get some dialogue going on this.

You could also start flirting with every cute man there.

dejanzie wrote:

You could also start flirting with every cute man there. ;-)

It's a Catholic church. Most attendees are a few decades older than me. Especially the group that shows up on weekdays, since it's a weekday service.

NSMike wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

You could also start flirting with every cute man there. ;-)

It's a Catholic church. Most attendees are a few decades older than me. Especially the group that shows up on weekdays, since it's a weekday service.

Yeah, haven't all the cute younger men left the Catholic Church already? Or taken vows. You could hit on all the younger priests there, but I suppose that would present its own problems.

NSMike wrote:
dejanzie wrote:

You could also start flirting with every cute man there. ;-)

It's a Catholic church. Most attendees are a few decades older than me. Especially the group that shows up on weekdays, since it's a weekday service.

Ah, so they'll all start hitting on you first.

I really sympathize with your parents. Heterosexuals don't get hung up about sex at all.

I personally often go 15 or 20 minutes without thinking of various sexual acts.

Ok, maybe not often, but occasionally.

It might have happened once.

I know there are some there, because my dad told me the priest he talked to after I came out told him he'd heard stuff in the confessionals.

Just be polite man, support your family and when you're there don't be a jerk if they ask you about it, hopefully people will understand and if they don't that's their problem. Good luck : )

I hope they come around bud. Even my uber Catholic aunt, who goes to bible study every week and made us sing "Happy Birthday Baby Jesus" one Christmas Eve, didn't have an issue when I came out. She looked me right in the eyes and said "God wants you to love who you're meant to love."

The new Pope is apparently cool with gay dudes so hopefully that attitude will spread up north soon, dunno

Mex wrote:

The new Pope is apparently cool with gay dudes so hopefully that attitude will spread up north soon, dunno

Not really, he just wants his peeps to stop picking on them so much because it's making people realize they're jerks.

NSMike wrote:

Just had an hour and a half conversation with my mother. So, I've kinda made the concession, just on this occasion, to keep to myself. In addition to that, though, I told her that we're too quiet on all of this. That the elephant in the room (not so much atheism, but homosexuality) is hanging over us too much. So, I'm hoping to get some communication moving between us. Increase some understanding.

One thing that baffled me is that she told me they feel like I'm all about the gay now, that it comes across in everything I do. I was just like, "Wha? I wish, I might pick up more guys that way." It's entirely in their heads, because they know about it now, and didn't before. I don't know if they're willing to acknowledge that, though, because when I said, "I don't even remotely understand what you mean," she couldn't explain it.

Overall, I think it's just better if I go and support my dad for now.

I think it's incredibly hard to set your limits and clear your head in the middle of so much. I think you can be forgiving of yourself of any "concessions" you might make for some family peace, given just how much is going on that is so heavy.

But after I hope you find some emotional quiet space, set some limits that you can live with. I'm not sure if every family has what I call "the family disease." Some elephant the family structures itself around not facing. But I do believe that sometimes the only solution is let them know you won't tacitly approve by keeping silent and letting this continue. "I can remove myself from the situation, or we can talk about the situation. There is no more quietly being a witness to the situation."

It really depends on how much they've cemented their lives around not facing things. From what you wrote about your dad...he's known for a while, and is not surrounding himself with soundproof cement walls of denial. No matter what...that's a hell of a lot more hopeful than hitting your head against walls with both parents.

My heart goes out to you. When I was in the Men's Glee Club, we used to call waiting for people to realize, "wow, so there's gay people in the world, and some of them I know and love" "getting on the Clue Train". But some people, no matter how far you walk them to the Clue Station, and no matter how many Clue Tickets you buy...they're not getting on that train, and you can't ride it for them.

This place, and these amazing, loving goodjer folks, really helped me hold my life together eight years ago, and then BAM! I was off to Greece to find, love, and live the rest of my life with my soulmate. So, you know.

It gets better.

By the way, one of those Glee Club guys was co-author of Avenue Q, and wrote the song below for Glee. It pretty much says what I would say to you right now if I could write a song for Glee. Might help.

Everything went ok last night. A few awkward, nervous laughs when asked about when I was getting married, and so on, but I expected that.

Something I realized last night, though: my nonagenarian aunt, who attended, would probably be futile to come out to. She didn't recognize me at first, and struggled to put together the facts that I do not live with my parents (she asked them if they had moved to Akron after I told her that's where I was living), or that I was 31 years old, or perhaps that I was even older than a teenager, as she kept remarking on how much I've grown (I haven't gotten any taller since I was about 15). I'm not sure she's entirely well put-together enough to even begin to understand, and coming out to her is now less about my mother's prohibition and more about just letting things be, especially when dealing with futility. I had not realized she had deteriorated so much.

My dad now looks like a cancer patient. It was a little shocking. A couple years ago, when my grandmother (his mother) died, we found some old audio tapes in a box somewhere that had recordings of a Thanksgiving dinner from when my dad was a child, with my great grandfather speaking before dinner and talking about the importance of the holiday. My dad remembered the event and said that about 4 months after that speech, he had died. I ended up being enlisted as the person to take video of the ceremony last night, and, realizing that there's not usually a reason to point a video camera at my dad, wondered if this was going to be his version of my great grandfather's last recording. Mind you, the chemo is working to some degree, because the tumors are smaller according to the latest scans, and they haven't even remotely exhausted treatment options yet. The thought was still there, though.

And one final note. My grandfather (Dad's dad) died when I was about 7 years old. My memories are of a grandparent dealing with a child, so serious issues were never really discussed. My grandfather was a character, though. Everyone who loved him, loved him fiercely. Aside from simply getting to know him better, there are many reasons I wish he had been around longer, and I think I may have tangentially learned of a new one last night. A relative whom we don't see very often congratulating my father after the ceremony said that his parents would be proud. After this comment, my dad said, "Well, I don't know about my dad, but my mom would be." I always knew my grandmother was Catholic, but I don't remember ever going to church with my grandfather. I'm wondering if we had a skeptic/atheist in the family and I just never knew. At the very least, he was apparently not particularly enamored with the church. Considering my parents are still dealing with my atheism and homosexuality themselves, it's probably not the best time to ask if my grandfather was on my side in any way. But the thought is slightly amusing and comforting in a weird way.