Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In or out?

The comments to a recent post have given me pause. Philip made the astute observation
"if you have been depending on this virtual community for a long time then my guess is that the support and validation you receive from this community may no longer be enough."
John added
"this is the price of the closet. This is why the closet destroys us."
But MoHoHawaii pointed out
the problem in Abelard's case is that he would bring his wife out of the closet with him and disclose his sexuality to his children. The decision to come out is not entirely his.

Plus, I'm not sure I'd recommend destabilizing one's social support system during a job crisis.
He is right, the decision to come out is not mine alone to make. To be honest, sometimes I almost wish I were "outed" so that the decision is made for me. But, while I think I would be mostly OK with it, I expect it would devastate my wife.

The job situation is also worthy of consideration. Especially since I am working towards becoming certified as a teacher - and I work in a state whose job discrimination laws do not include sexual orientation. A gay teacher - even a gay celibate one - might not be looked on too favorably in this reddest of red state that I live in.

The truth of the matter is, it's really a matter of "when" rather than "if" I'm coming out of my closet. But, the time has to be right - and I'm not so sure now is the right time.

In the mean time, while I am remote from other gay Mormon's, I'm not remote from gay culture. I live near Dallas which has it's own gayborhood. Dallas is also home to the Cathedral of Hope church, which claims to be, the largest GLBT congregation in the world. But, I don't know how much good that does me. I've met with local members of the Gay Christian Network a few times. I've even gone to lunch a couple of times with members of the local chapter of Affirmation. But, I don't know how to initiate such interactions. Truth is, I always feel a little out of place - It seems like I'm always the oldest person, the only person in a MOM, the only one still active in church, whatever. What's social retard like me to do?

For those of you who have come out of the closet - you have my deepest admiration for your courage. When it comes down to it, I'm really quite a coward and I avoid confrontation. Unfortunately, coming out brings with it possible confrontation.

On a more positive note, since I started down the path of alternative certification for teaching, my wife has noted that I seem much happier and have a more positive outlook on life. So, I guess it's not all doom and gloom for me.


MoHoHawaii said...

I'm really glad to hear about your plans to teach. I think you would be great at it, and I'm guessing you would be enjoy working with young people.

As for coming out.... all in good time.

Grant Haws said...

MoHoHawaii is right about destabilizing your family...coming out is totally different when it affects other people like it would a wife and kids.

For coming out, I started with some people I was close with, but who I knew weren't people connected to the rest of my world...so that way if they reacted poorly it would affect too much else, but it eased me into coming out to more people.

Philip said...

You probably already know most of this info so bear with me...

Most people come out slowly and over several years. They come out in stages. Usually first it's to friends then relatives or vice-a-versa. Then usually it's out to other gay people. For most coming out stops there because the next stages usually require coming out publicly. For instance, coming out at work or church or at school.

Unless you are planning on coming out publicly, you don't have to bring your wife out of the closet or disclose your sexuality to your kids.

(However, helping your wife out of the closet and disclosing to your children is a topic we can tackle at another time)

Some lessons I learned while venturing out into the gay community:

I had to work through a lot of internalized homophobia.

When I first started seeking out support groups, I didn't feel like I fit in. I found gay people strange. This really had more to do with my discomfort being around other gay people than anything else. After a while, I got over my discomfort.

However, I did find I had little in common with most groups and had to do a little shopping around.

For one thing I found it easier to deal with other married men than with single gay men.

However, most groups consisted primarily of single members. To find other married men, your best bet is to first find out if there is a group specifically for gay fathers or gay married men, and, if that fails, then check out bisexual and parenting groups.

I don't have hobbies but you do so it might also be worthwhile considering groups that cater to your interests.

The thinking here is that the common interest will make it easier for you to socialize with others.

I am much better one on one than in a group seeting so I found things got much easier once I made a few friends.

One thing I heartily recommend, even though I didn't do it for years, is to seek out "gay positive" straight groups.

The thinking here is that you will be better able to deal with your own sexuality if you know straight people that don't have an issue with your sexuality.

PFLAG is national and you can find the nearest chapter by going to their website: www.pflag.org

Dallas is a big city and there is probably a group for everyone. Usually the local rag has a resource page on the back or there is a local hotline number you can call usually listed under 'gay' or 'lesbian' in the phonebook.

Hope this helps.


Philip said...

Most gay people know about the closet in their bones but most have never verbally defined what it is in order to explain it to someone else.

One thing that really helped me was to come up with definitions of the terms "closet" and "coming out" that I could verbalize to someone else.

Most dictionary definitions of these terms are told from the perspective of society - the perspective of people not in the closet.

What is really helpful about defining your own terms is that you define it from your perspective - the perspective of a person in the closet.

Once I had a clear definition from my perspective then I was able to easily arrive at answers to a lot of questions I had about coming out.

Once I had a clear definition then I was able to easily defend why I came out to someone that had no idea what the closet was like except from a definition in a dictionary.

Once I had a clear definition then I was able to easily sort through the many confusing and sometimes contradictory things people, gay and straight, say about the closet and coming out.

Let me know if you are interested in hearing more.