Bit of a background: Ok so I am a 53 year old guy who has been seeing a guy for about a year. Two years ago I came out of the closet, which was more like a bomb shelter than a closet. A lot of my thinking and behaviour is still from years of being in the closet and acting straight. So just bear that in mind when reading this. My boyfriend described himself as always been gay. He has said of me that he thinks no one would guess that I am gay as I come across straight in my behaviour and general mannerisms. As most of my life has been in a closet. My boyfriend looks and acts gay. For awhile I couldn't understand why I am going out with him as I didn't have a real strong connection with him. But there was just something there. In the beginning of our friendship, I would pick him up from work and we would walk from his work place to a restaurant and afterwards we would go back to my car and we would drive to his place where I stayed for the weekend. Over the weekend we didn't really go out much and just mucked around (just hanging out) at his place. He said after awhile that it might be a good idea if we went out and did stuff together like a picnic at the beach, go shopping together, see a movie, etc.. Thinking about going out with him in public over the weekend really bought up a lot of anxiety for me, so much so that I started to make excuses. I really felt lame for doing so, because I couldn't fathom then just why I was feeling so anxious. We had been together walking to different restaurants and had I didn't have anxiety then. Personally I wanted to try and figure out what was my problem without having a meltdown with him. Because it was my issue and had nothing to do with him (or so I thought). There is a sports field at the back of his house (about 50 metres away)and one sunny afternoon, we could hear a soccer game being played at the sports field. He suggested that we go for a picnic on the edge of the sports field and watch and just generally relax in the sun. I thought it was a great idea and so after arming ourselves with food and drink and a blanket he walked to the sports field. The sports field has large green plastic see through weave surrounding its perimeter. As we got closer I could see it was only two games being played with a lot of friends and parents on the side lines watching the game. My boyfriend walked through an opening of the perimeter green weave and proceeded to lay the blanket down about 10 meters away from where I had stopped. I just froze and said to him, "I cant do this". He calmly said to me, "Its okay, what you are feeling is perfectly normal, but just so you know, no one here knows you apart from me. I want you to take a few deep breaths and know that you are okay. No one knows that you are gay, heck you don't even act gay. We are just two mates having a picnic here, normally with a lot of games on this perimeter is filled with heaps of people. Just doing what we are doing". And if it helps you I will act a bit more straighter to make you feel comfortable. I started to feel calmer, although still a wee bit apprehensive and went and sat down with him. We had a great picnic. After a short time he was his normal camp self and it actually relaxed me more. The next day I thought about this and I started to realize that there was a part of me that was scared of being seen as gay in public, with a gay guy. It brought up a childhood memory of being ridiculed and the feelings of embarrassment and a sense of being shamed. I have lived a good part of my life avoiding being gay or even slightly showing anything remotely gay in my life - which is why my closet existed. I had the feeling was that my emotions hadn't caught up with my reality. I remember several years ago (before I came out) some of my friends made comments of suspicions that I was possibly gay. They thought they saw me checking out a few guys and after watching me they made several comments to me with a homophobic slant. I recall that incident with a lot of embarrassment at the time as I wasn't emotionally ready to admit it to myself. My boyfriend just lets me be me and the fact that he talks me through my anxiety of coming to terms with myself is something that I treasure about him. He really is secure within himself to know that I am struggling with my identity and he doesn't take it personally that I don't want to be seen with him in public. I am starting to enjoy picnics at the beach and just hanging out with him in public spaces. Sometimes he enquires if I am ok and he says that I look a little tense. I'm pretty honest with him and he just talks me through it. I asked him if he gets bothered with my anxiety regarding being in public spaces. He just said that everyone has an issue with something, there is no one that is perfect and we all need encouragement to be better than who we are. After awhile you will feel stronger in yourself (which I am) and really its just being human. So I thought that I would share this with you.