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So alone....

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by StevenT1965, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. StevenT1965

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    Hello all, apologies if this is lengthy or rambling to you, story of my life, right?

    I'm 56, I came out to my sister (first) and parents about two years ago, this was after several years of therapy that helped me wrap my mind around the reasons for some very self-destructive behavior. I'm not unusual in having been married and having children while in denial, my ex-wife and children do not know I am gay. Someday, perhaps, when I have a better handle on it, myself.

    I have two problems/issues/concerns that I am struggling with, one I believe is major and the other is just....devastating to think about its implications.

    First problem: I am unable to relate to the struggles men my age, who have been out their whole lives, have experienced. The whole gay rights movement occurred and passed right by me while I was snug and secure in my closet of denial. I never experienced the discrimination, the violence, the legal problems, the AIDS epidemic (thank God!), never marched in a parade, never publicly advocated for legal rights and equality. Honestly, I feel like a fraud, especially when I'm gathered together with other gay men my age and the conversation turns to their lived experiences, their struggles. I feel lost, alone, like some sort of arriviste who has gained accession to this lifestyle, to this freedom to be who I really am, through fraudulent means. It seems stupid but I can't help feeling that way, like I'm an imposter. The upshot is that I know I'm gay, I'm not inexperienced, but I don't know HOW to be gay. Does that make sense? Because I'm lost.

    And that sort of leads me to the second problem I have is that I just don't know how to establish a meaningful connection with another man, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, sexual, you name it. And that's a direct result of being in denial my entire life, faking being "not-gay", faking heterosexual relationships, faking a marriage to a woman I pretended to love because I thought that's what I needed to do. I can have sex, that's easy, hookup culture is a thing and I use it. But I am absolutely clueless on how to establish a meaningful relationship with another man that may eventually lead to a meaningfully, physically fulfilling one, especially since it's unlikely I'd have any shared life stories.

    The thought of living a life devoid of friendship, companionship, and love is terrifying but I just don't know how to break out of this...mindset?
     
  2. tidalpool127

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    Hey there. I'm gay in my mid-30s, came out in my early 20s. I've always had certain mannerisms, but when I was newly out I either exaggerated certain ones, downplayed others, or took on ones I didn't even naturally have because I thought all gay guys had to be a certain way and I was insecure about being rejected by our community. However, I have learned something since then. There is only one trick to being gay. Do you have sexual and romantic attraction to other men instead of women? If so, congrats, you are gay enough.

    People do bond over shared life experiences but people also bond over shared interests(and gay men have a whole range of interests) and sharing time together, getting to know one another. Plus, you say you have no gay life experience. Not true, the kids today may be coming out earlier than ever but we all know what the closet is like. Plus you say you were safe in your closet like you didn't have the same hardships but friend, the closet is a heck of a hard place to be. I know the hookup culture can leave you wanting something deeper, I have been there.

    Are there any lgbt support groups or gay sports leagues(some of it is real athletic but some is like kickball and bowling) in your area? My town has an lgbt community center. Is there a place like that where you live? If you use facebook, my area has a group for lgbt people. I don't live in a super rural area but it ain't that big either and it is in the South. So maybe there are things like this in your area? I know the pandemic makes it hard but a lot of groups are doing virtual meetings. Just some suggestions. Just know you are not alone. We are here for you.
     
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  3. quebec

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    Steven.....So many of the things you said could have come from my mouth. My early years were different than yours in that I was out for about four years in college. The death of my boyfriend/lover/soulmate and the rejection of both of us by his parents devastated me. I wasn't allowed to be with him in the final weeks/days. I wasn't allowed to be at the funeral and I didn't ever know where he was buried. I was so emotionally ravaged by the experience that I pushed everything away and eventually blocked the memory of what happened and eventually even his memory. For over forty years I "thought" I was straight...but there were always signs. Over time it got worse and worse. I became convinced that I just had a kink for guys...or rather I convinced myself. Eventually in my late 40's I knew that I was gay, but I kept refusing to accept the reality and because of that my guilt, self-hate and depression continued to build year after year. Finally at the age of 64 I reached my last sexuality crisis and made my first post here on Empty Closets, begging for help while I was looking at a full bottle of pain pills as the alternative. The wonderful people here on EC saved me that night and I will forever be thankful. So like you, I skipped all of the things that you listed. I didn't have to fight my way through the "Dark Years" of Stonewall and Aids, etc. But I lived in my own little closet of hell, just as you did. That doesn't make us second class gay citizens. It makes us like thousands of others in the generations before us and after us that didn't have the opportunities that are becoming available more and more today.
    *****So for your first question...How to be gay? Beside reading many, many posts here on Empty Closets, I watched hundreds if not thousands of youtube videos put out by gay presenters. Most of those were by people much younger than me, but I still learned a lot! There were some videos by guys nearer my age and those were also really helpful. I had years of gay education to catch up on and, since the videos were entertaining, it made the learning fun too. A year after I came out on EC I started seeing a therapist who was himself gay. I surprised him when he discovered that I was very up to date with gay terminology, etc. and embarrassed him a couple of times when I knew something that he didn't!
    *****You second question...the suggestions that @tidalpool127 made are very good ones. Finding groups that you might be interested in, especially if they are sponsored by a local LGBTQ Community Support Organization. There are some churches that are LGBTQ accepting and they will often have meetup type groups. Look around and see what is available in your area. Of course there is the old standard of the gay bar and that's not really too bad as long as you know why you are there...looking for friends, not a hookup since you've already said that's not a problem! :old_smile: I sure hope that this helps out a little. I can remember what it felt like after I came out here on EC and I had the relief of having come out, but then the next question was...what now? Remember you are a part of our LGBTQIA+ Family and we do care! Please keep us updated on how things work out!
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
  4. QuietPeace

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    Welcome to EC.

    There is no right way to be gay, other than having same sex/gender attraction. Everyone is different, you need to just be you.

    The only way to establish any relationship is to communicate. Spend time with a person and each of you share your experiences. As others have said, you do not have to have shared life stories. My current husband is 17 years younger than I am, we both grew up in different countries, he had a supportive parent while mine were abusive, the list of differences is long. We still connect, we talk about things. While we have many differences we also connect on many common things which we never would have known had we not started talking.

    As far as meeting anyone who you can establish a relationship with. I avoid dating sites and apps, I found them to be entirely about hookups and to be totally superficial. I set out and to things that I enjoy which historically meant volunteering, being around other people who want to do things that I do. I met my current husband in a group organized to play games. If there is an LGBT+ center near you it is a good place to find other people who you know are at a minimum accepting allies and many will also be LGBT+. Seek out other things that you like doing and you will meet other people who have things in common with you.
     
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  5. PatrickUK

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    Let's take this on first:

    Seems to me you are better informed than you imagine. Okay, so the struggles passed you by, but you are clearly not oblivious to what we have had to go through and fight for. You are aware of the discrimination, violence, legal issues and AIDS epidemic and that's a great starting point. If you are genuinely interested there are many later in life gay guys who will be only too happy to share their knowledge and experience with you and if you are gracious enough to listen and ask questions that will buy you a lot of credit and friendship with most of them. Don't ever be afraid to be honest. You may encounter a few spiteful old queens who have a go, but it's only because their tongues are made of pure acid. We just roll our eyes at them!

    Honestly, the main reason the 'old stagers' fought so hard and did the political and legal battles is so others wouldn't have to. It's no bad thing to not have that intimate personal knowledge, but really, don't be afraid to ask. The thing that really pisses us off is when our experience is derided and dismissed as irrelevant... especially concerning sex and safety.

    And now this:

    Once again, it's about honesty. The foundation of any good relationship is honesty, be it a platonic friendship or intimate relationship. There is no shame in anything you have described in this post and there is no shame in admitting your lack of awareness and experience. If you really desire meaningful friendships or relationships with other gay men you will do well to be honest. We love honesty!

    Over the last ten years we have seen more and more people coming out later in life. They've seen battles fought and won and it's given them the strength to finally be true to themselves and live with a new confidence and authenticity. For me, that's one of the great achievements of our community. For as much as we want the next generation/s of LGBT people to have an easier time, we also take joy in the fact that older LGBT people can now be themselves and (potentially) live their best life.

    In summary, the answer to both of your problems is honesty. You've already spent years being someone or something else in the closet, so you don't want to carry on that process now with members of your own community. The time for hiding your true self is over. No more shame, no more fronts. Be honest, be authentic and get the best out of life.
     
  6. tidalpool127

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    Oh David, I'm so, so sorry that happened to you. Steven, I'm not trying to derail this thread we are still here for you. I just....this got me. I was crying this morning when I first read this. When I was younger and a lot stupider I used to think "What do we need (gay) marriage for? More than half the time straight people screw it up, so what's the big deal?" Then I watched a documentary called "Bridegroom" that told a story where the exact same circumstances happened to a gay man when his partner died. Afterwards I thought "Holy hell, THAT's the big deal" and knew marriage was a right worth fighting for. Again, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I cannot understand how we can be so inhumane to one another.
     
  7. justaguyinsf

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  8. bingostring

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    Do you have any gay friends? You need a support circle who will not judge you and you will feel normalised by this.
    Another thought is ‘group work’. A men’s group or a gay men’s support group. I think it could be life changing for you.
     
  9. I'm gay

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    You are not alone in feeling this way. Most of us late-in-lifers have some similar feelings about being a fish out of water. But please understand that your feelings are being generated by your discomfort at being in an unfamiliar place. The other gay men around you aren't thinking that you're an imposter, just you are thinking that.

    The only way to get comfortable "being gay" is to gain experience in being around other gay men - not just sexually - but in social situations too. Of course it's going to be awkward for you at first. If you stop hanging around gay men because you are uncomfortable, though, you won't make any progress. You are going to have to force yourself to be social. People often dismiss gay bars and dating apps. I think that's the wrong message. People do find each other through those avenues. You just have to understand that you may have to wade through a lot of "no's" before you find your "yes."

    Depending upon where you live, there may be groups you can join that share your interests. It's a great way to meet people and increase your circle of gay friends.

    I have met and socialized with dozens and dozens of gay men since coming out. I've told my story to many of them. No one cares that I hid in the closet. Not one person has ever made me feel bad for coming out late. It was all in my mind. And I believe it's all in yours as well.