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Struggling to come out

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by caper88, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. caper88

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    Hey everyone, I am a 33 year old female. I have struggled with my sexuality all of my life. I am out to a few close friends but not my family or publicly. I'm not sure why I struggle. Maybe I will give you a little background of my current life.

    My mother can be judgy about things but she doesn't show any sign of homophobia. I think there might be some aspects she may not understand and I think she would be worried in the sense the issues I may face from people who are homophobic. She does know a few gay people and I have never heard her spoken in terms of gay being wrong or immoral.

    The man my mother dates (I was in mid 20s when they started dating so I don't view him as a father figure) has more "old fashioned views"...sorry I am not exactly sure to explain. So I suspect he wouldn't understand but I have never heard him say anything about gay people. The only time I have ever heard him mention things he don't like is when it comes to his own children..ex he doesn't understand why both his boys are with women who had children before they met...he doesn't view nor would he treat these kids like his two biological but my mother is pretty quick to jump in when he goes on at his kids about this.

    The family members I care about also don't seem to show signs of homophobia. My aunt's (not overly close with) husband and their son makes the odd comment at family gatherings..his son is in hockey and they will call apposing team members fags as a means of intimidation.

    Both my grandparents have passed away. They use to go to the Catholic church all the time but I do get the sense they still would of loved and accepted me as I am. They were both very both very loving people who always seen the good in everyone. I mean they accepted my brother despite his addiction problems. I do kind of regret that I never told them.

    Maybe I am just renting and trying to vent. I'm not sure why at my age I still struggle? Why at my age does it still matter what people think or care about? Do I have internalized shame and just don't know it? Guilt? Any tips, advice or insight on this it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks everyone for listening
     
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  2. Comrade

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    It seems to me that you are just worried about what would happen if you come out, and that's natural. You shouldn't feel pressured, but if you don't come out now (somewhere within these years) you might never come out. Best of luck to you!
     
  3. QuietPeace

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    I think that for many of us we never grow out of wanting to fulfill our parents expectations. There is also the fact that society has expectations of us and that makes it more difficult to come out at least for many of us. It also seems very rational to me for you to be worried over what your not quite step-father will think or say, it may be generalizing but "traditional" or "old-fashioned" people are less likely to be accepting.

    Could you try talking privately with the most accepting person that you know first and see how it goes? Then if it goes well start widening the circle of people you tell. You do not have to be out to anyone that you do not want to be and you do not have to come out until you are ready.

    @Comrade it is never too late. I know people who have come out in their 50s and 60s (IRL know) and even know of at least one person who was not out until their 70s. Though it is sad that anyone has to live really any amount of time not living as their true self, for many it either is not safe to be out or they just do not feel safe or ready yet. Everyone needs to do things in their own way and in their own time.
     
  4. LostInDaydreams

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    There’s not much I can add to what @QuietPeace said above, but just wanted to say that you’re not alone in this.

    I’m out to some friends and not really hiding my sexuality in other areas, such as work where I’m a member of the LGBT group, but I’m not out at all to family (and I’m 33 too).

    My mum, like yours isn’t homophobic and has had gay friends through work, but she can be very judgmental. I get comments on my clothes and parenting style, for example, and she can be very quick to jump on things I say and make assumptions.

    Also, my stepdad has quite old fashioned views too and does make occasional homophobic comments. He thought it was funny that sexuality was being recorded on the census and also makes comments about my appearance, such as that I look better with long hair or in skirts, etc.

    It’s exhausting and it’s really hard to contemplate coming out to when you’re not sure that you’re going to get a positive response. So, don’t beat yourself up for being full out yet. Everyone gets there in their own time, and you don’t have to come out to everyone anyway. My therapist and I were doing some work around my relationship with my parents/stepparents just before the most recent UK lockdown, perhaps that’s something you could consider if you feel really stuck.
     
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  5. DecentOne

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    Welcome to EC caper88!

    I didn’t come out to myself as bisexual until late middle age, then immediately to my wife (who is an LGBTQ ally herself, but at first wasn’t reacting well about _me_ claiming the bisexual label. She was embarrassed about her initial reaction and words about a year or 18 months after).

    I was lucky to grow up in a family and religion that valued diversity, and while I identified (quite easily) as straight, I know I would be loved for myself and so didn’t fear coming out to my Mom (sorry to say Dad had passed away).

    I just needed the most important people in my life to know more about me, from my own words, and that I trusted them and knew I could share anything with them. So my wife, our kids, my Mom, and other family members heard from me. Turns out one family member shared it with other family members before I did, but I don’t get the sense they were offended I hadn’t reached them first. One cousin (who I got to before the grapevine did) said: “wow, you said that so nonchalantly, just mixed in with all the other catch-up news!”. Yeah, not to make a big deal about it, but feeling good each time I said it.

    Later I came out to my supervisor at work, as news of my coming and going from the LGBTQ center, or my involvement in a LGBTQ hobby group might travel through the grapevine. (I didn’t want any surprises - being seen as an honest worker is important to me - turns out when I came out my supervisor revealed they were LGBTQ too).

    Then I just kept on coming out to the rest of co-workers (with excellent support from my supervisor), and to everyone at church, and I wear a pride wristband all the time now.

    It was joyful for me to be authentic that way. I’m glad I didn’t wait to tell family members, and others I interact with on a regular basis (except for the fact I didn’t figure this out for myself until after decades of living as a straight ally - something shifted at this stage of life, it must just have been the right time).

    Each person follows what is right for them. You do you!
     
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  6. dirtyshirt84

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    Hey Caper88.

    I just wanted to say I have felt much the same way as you. My Mum used to make negative comments about lesbians and I grew up in a conservative, rural place that wasn’t ideal for coming to terms with being LGBT. I think so much has changed in the last 20 years though, and I think my Mum’s attitude has changed as society has changed.

    I came across this the other day, I don’t know if it’s helpful to you but it really resonated with me:

    ‘The way you chose to live your life is your decision. You can survive other people’s disappointment or disapproval. And your decision may allow you to not just survive, but thrive.’
     
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  7. SevnButton

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    Hi @caper88 -
    That is such a good question! Why do we care what people think? It shows up a lot here on Empty Closets. People with loving families care what their families think, and so do people with dysfunctional families. I think the answer is that most of us humans truly need each other. People describe the awful feeling of being alone, and people in solitary confinement literally go crazy. So yeah, it is really frightening to think that you could lose your relationship with someone if they knew your truth.

    It's also painful to constantly hide the truth about ourselves. People here on EC often describe an amazing feeling of energy and liberation when they come out and start to express on the outside what they truly feel inside. That's authenticity.

    So, what to do? We all have to figure that out. For myself, I try to face toward authenticity, and take steps big and tiny in the right direction.

    Best wishes and good luck to you!

    =Sevn
     
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  8. BiGemini87

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    It's not uncommon to struggle with these things still, even well into adulthood. A lot of what you see, hear, or experience growing up tends to stick with you, no matter how much you try to tell yourself it shouldn't matter. Logically, you can know you're grown up and therefore, don't require the approval of your family members--but sometimes, especially if you didn't have a particularly great upbringing, you might find yourself regressing to something of a child in your mind whenever you're around the family members in question. Some people just have a way of getting inside your head, and it takes time to dislodge them and their words.

    Even in an ideal upbringing, it's natural to have some reservations, I think. We build up this idea of what it means in our minds, how people will react, etc. based on things we've seen. But I think there comes a point when you come to crossroads and you have to decide which path to take--the one where you continue repressing your true self to keep from creating potential conflict with others, or the one that will allow you to be who you are, regardless of what may or may not follow.

    The latter path is ideally the one you want to take. Having to hide part of who you are--especially something that can't be easily ignored or explained away--can have detrimental, lasting affects on your mental health.

    So while your worries are perfectly understandable, especially as you try to navigate just what you're feeling, I think it's important to shrug off the expectations of others and be the you that you want/need to be.

    But take your time; being in your 30s doesn't mean you have to rush this. You still have time, and coming out is something you should only do when you want to, not because you feel like you have to.
     
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  9. out2019

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    Have you told anyone?
    When I called a LGBT center where I live I realized how 'normal' I felt telling them I was gay. No shame or fear - the only thing I think about for example when thinking about dating is 'what if someone I know sees me". That made me realize I did have shame.

    I haven't done it but others here say having a community that is LGBTQ is important.I can see that- having that space to grow and accept yourself might be easier than trying to change long existing relationships.
     
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  10. SevnButton

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    Oh yeah! That feeling is priceless, speaking openly with someone and it's no big deal, no more than talking about the weather. Only it IS a big deal because there's someone who let's you be you, and who understands.
     
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  11. KeriBeth

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    Unfortunately, I have no advice. I’m in a similar situation, though.
    I have actually come out to my mom (who is accurately described in the original post) TWICE. The first time when I was 12, to which she responded that I was “too young to know”, and again more recently. The second time I came out to my mom, I was surprised to hear that her response hadn’t changed. I didn’t expect her to throw a party for me or anything, but I was hoping for a little more acceptance. I am out to and accepted by my father and my step-father, but my mom’s reaction has made me hesitant to tell anyone else.
     
  12. Contented

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    Coming out especially a little later in life presents some real challenges. For me it was much easier to admit to myself that I was gay but harder to finally come out as a gay man. It was even harder to come out to my family. If we are honest with ourselves at some point to matter the pain we need to acknowledge our true sexuality to our families. It is impossible not to unless you want to live a covert life. Secrets have a way of getting out so better to control the event of coming out rather that it controlling you. Granted it is not the easiest thing to do but sense of liberation and the joy that freedom brings is well worth it.