Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Peterpangirl, Nov 22, 2018.
What are your views on this statement Late in Lifers?
Agreed 100 percent. Being gay is just one of many attributes that makes me whom I am.
I'm 43 so I'm definitely later in life lol....I do agree it's only a small part of me being gay....it only seems like a big bit because this is the year I came out....and it's been a rollercoaster but next year being gay will be a tiny part of who I am...though I will stick up for LGBT rights wherever I can....
To be honest it kind of ticks me off.
In my experience when I have heard this it is more often than not accompanied by a sort of downward glance at those for whom it is a larger part of their identity, people like me. I came out twenty-six years ago, in a deeply religious family, in a deeply conservative part of the country. I came out in a time and place where people in the later in life section tend to say that coming out wasn't really an option. I'm not particularly feminine or flamboyant. It's not like I couldn't have stayed closeted, but it seemed wrong to me. Most of the people I came out to had literally never met an out gay person before, so for years being gay was absolutely central to how people viewed me. I embraced it but it being the case was not really an option. There were the marches, the rallies, the parades. There were gay choirs, book groups, political groups and charities. I always tried to be a good friend, employee, coworker, neighbor, a regular boy next door.
And I always tried to make sure that people knew I was gay while I did it--because when I was young I couldn't see a way forward as a gay man, I looked out at the vista of the future and just saw nothing. It's why I tried to kill myself in high school, and I was always aware of those of us who didn't make it and those who were still out there looking for some glimmer of hope, some normal way forward. And it was important to me to be that if I could. That when people made generalizations about gay people, when they said we're all perverts, mentally ill, etc. that there was always that little bit of doubt: the guy at the bank, or up on twelve or in my theology class, well he's not like that at all, he seems pretty nice actually.
And I guess if people are able to be gay now and have it be a small part of who they are that's good, it means that all the marching and shouting and stubbornly insisting on being who we are in the open rather than in the shadows really did change the world. That's great. I just wish sometimes that it came with a little more gratitude and a whole lot less side eye.
I agree with the OP and this post.
I understand that there were those who fought hard to break down barriers but not everyone is cut out to do that, much the same way some people can't evangelize about religion when organized religion tells you to evangelize and spread the word. I think that all GLBT people probably laud what the fighters have accomplish, especially if they prefer a more reserved approach to life.
You should be able to pick and choose how you rank order what defines you: your occupation, your place of birth, your place of residence, your education, your nationality/race/color, your creed, your values, your sexuality, your relationships, your friends, and so forth. Most health practitioners, physical and mental, tell me that men most often define themselves by what they do.
I think what some people might resent is how others decide how they are going to rank order this for you. Assume two people are attorneys. One is straight and one is gay. People then say the straight man is "an attorney" and the gay man is "gay" or a "gay attorney." This is because the most salacious details seem to reel in more attention. With the first one, people will picture a guy in a suit in a conference room or discussing a situation with a client. With the second one, people will picture a guy in the throes of erotic heat with another guy. That's how many people's minds seem to work. Sex is a much lower common denominator than is a career or a cultural aspect of a person and that quickly becomes the baseline for the many banal people out there. I think that it's this that many GLBT people who are conventional in so many ways don't like - they don't get to define themselves to others and show that there's much more to them than what they do between the sheets, which is even worse when some folks may not even be that sexually active or don't have a significant other.
Coming out has been very illuminating. My close relationships were always off. They would typically get overly involved and burn out. The type of women that were attracted to me for friendship had a fair amount of similarities. The type of men I would attract were also of a certain type. It was really hard for me to read people properly when I didn't understand why I saw them they way I did. Now, that is really not an issue. Knowing who I am helps me decipher MY reactions to other people. The lens is so much clearer. Even with my ex husband, I realized at some point toward the end how I was using sex for validation and even a sense of power. Before that, I would have to meditate and detach from sexual moments to be able to enjoy it at all, (and sometimes think of Victoria's Secret models.)
i think I agree and disagree. I mean for the most part it is only one of many parts to me but then on the other hand it never goes away, however comfortable I am with coming out etc etc I will always still have to when I meet new people. I also think dealing with questioning my sexuality and all of those struggles have changed my outlook on many things and the way I see things so in that regard it has had a massive influence on my life and not just in the respect that I have a girlfriend and so in that way I don't think it is such a small thing.
I see it as you see it. And I think that when there has been struggle and loss it does affect how I see this part of me.
I appreciate your struggle.
It’s a massive part of who I am, it’s a big part of my identity. I’ve fought hard to understand this part of me, and I find that the more open and in touch I am with my sexuality, I also have found community through this identity who I connect with on a deep level. It’s a part of me which has been difficult to be in touch with but now that I am, it’s a part of me which enables me to be vulnerable yet also strong.
I don’t think I’ll ever get to stage where I will say, this is just a small part of my identity.
Exactly. I don't just see it as struggle and loss, although I respect you have potentially had more of that than me. I can also see how much growth it has caused in other areas, understanding myself and others.
Oh, the wickedness of certain words...like "only" or "small"... or "it is just so and so...".
We are whole human beings, we are not made up of parts like some automobile engine...the conscious self is a greater mystery than our analytical knives could ever dissect. We can never truly know ourselves, just as the eye cannot see itself, or the tongue taste itself.
To call something "only" or "small" is to make some value-judgment as to the relative importance (value) of this label (gay) versus all other labels and definitions that we affix to ourselves; not realizing that all of these labels are abstractions; they are not reality.
We of the later-in-life set do however have an edge on being able to judge whether this has been important, or not. We have had the "privilege" of a before and after: of living a straight (-jacketed?) life followed by a gay life.
I guess the best analogy I can think of is that of a color-blind person who is suddenly able to see colors; one can say that this person's ability to see colors is an important part of his or herself, however, what has really happened is that color is now part of everything this person sees. In other words, what has changed is a perception, and henceforth, nothing will ever appear the same as before...I think it is irrelevant to state that color-vision is an important part of such a person. It would be better to say that the event of seeing colors for the first time was a revolution of perception which will affect everything this person sees from that point on.
In the same way, we have had a before and after coming out...I can only speak for myself, but ever since that day, when I came out to myself, nothing has ever appeared the same again.
We see not with our eyes, but with our minds. Such a fundamental change in how we understand ourselves cannot help but change what it is we see and do, even if it may seem mundane and ordinary, we are fundamentally different, even if we cannot really define what that difference is.
Being gay is a very BIG part of who I am, but that doesn't mean I share it with everybody I come into contact with.
I get annoyed when I meet people for the first time (normally straight women) and they realise I'm gay, and all they want to talk to me about is my sex life, and their own experiences hanging out with other gay people. I mean, I've only just met you, and you want to know all my intimate details? And you want to start telling me about your other gay friends when I barely even know who you are? I'm supposed to care about your gay history?
But with people who I've come to know and trust over time, like my work colleagues for instance, we've started off getting to know each other through friendly conversation about ordinary things, like family and home life and places we like to visit and things that annoy us and stress us out. When I feel comfortable with someone, then I may start talking about my sex life and where I go to get off and what my last date was like, and I'll make sleazy comments about guys I find hot (they know I'm being sleazy in humor and I'm not actually going to do anything inappropriate) but I have no problem with being seen as the gay guy at work, because these are people I have a working relationship with so our interaction isn't just about me being gay, but me being gay is a big part of our conversation.
Also, if I'm on a date with a guy, then of course I will share a lot of details about my sexuality. We're on a date, so there is a strong chance we might end up having sex with each other at some point, so being gay is going to be at the forefront of a lot of our conversation. And it's pretty important that we get to know where we come from and how we've coped with being gay men in a predominately straight world.
I like some of the other commenters feel being gay is huge part of who I am now. Since coming to terms with my homosexuality and embracing it honestly and openly I am not the same person. Being gay encompasses for me so much more. Not only the obvious sexual aspects but almost a total culture revision to who I am now as opposed who I was pretending to be in past. My “ gayness” has permeated in good way almost every aspect of my life. I love the gay man I have become. At the very beginning of this journey I wanted to hide any aspects of the changes in me. I wanted to bury the gay in a secret place so no would know. As I grew that all disappeared and being gay has become the essence of who I am , how I think, live my life, whom I love and how I represent by self to the world. Gay is so much more than who I sleep with!
It is definitely a Big part of me and who I am. If it wasn't I could remain closeted and married. It's not about just the sex - it's the core of who I am. I can freely talk, act, be who I am meant to be. No more hiding, keeping secrets, living a lie. To diminish it to just a small part of me would be saying all those years of suffering had no value, no impact. Everything I went through was just ehh.. No, I fought the battle of 100 lifetimes and I came out ahead and alive. Being gay doesn't define me - I am Gay!
^^^^ Picture my Woman pose with the last sentence....
I agree.There is not much different between a straight couple life and a gay couple life.
It’s just one part of who I am but it’s a significant part because it changes the way I see the world and I’ve struggled to come to terms with it.
Great thread! I want to read carefully through everyone's post, but for now:
It seems to be a very individual thing. I think it's kind of like other things that can range from a passing interest to a life's purpose, and everything in between. For some people it's the most important part of their lives, but not so much for others.
For us late-in-lifers, I think there's a time when we're taking the lid off of some long-suppressed but fundamental feelings when our newly-acknowledged sexuality does become the most important part of our lives.
This is much how I feel.