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Well, that went about as badly as possible

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by quadratic, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. quadratic

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    Thanks so much Chip, for your long and generous response. And thank you also for your words of welcome. There are small but encouraging signs: two of my kids dropped round briefly the other day, and I've spoken to a few other family members (mother and brother - they're both fine), and an old friend. I don't know whether my wife has been complicit as you say though - even given there being two sides to every issue. I know she has tried (and I've certainly made it difficult enough for her) to be at all times supporting, loving, nurturing, helpful, and fair. If she bad-mouths me to the children it's not out of malice, but frustration.

    Curiously she has asked me once or twice: "Are you gay?" to which I've always answered No. There's no dissembling here: I simply didn't like the label. Yes, I may be attracted to men, but that's me; "gay" is what other people are. I've spent far too much time exploring labels: gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, and the rest. I wasn't happy with any of them. The world being what it is, coming out in public as gay is still a political statement.

    In fact, when I registered for this forum a week ago, I decided - for the first time ever - to label myself as gay and see what happens. I'll wear that label and see if it fits. I simply don't like being pigeonholed.

    I also ordered a second hand copy of the Joe Kort book you mentioned, which will arrive "between 5 - 40 business days".

    And truly people here have been lovely and generous. I could do with a hug, though!
     
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  2. Chip

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    I'm really glad you found the information (and the community here) helpful! This is what the folks who originally founded EC, back in 2004, intended when creating it. I don't think they ever imagined a formal nonprofit organization or a community with international reach, but it's a huge labor of love for all involved. :slight_smile:

    Aha! So that pretty much confirms what Kort's experience (as well as ours here at EC) suggests: She suspected. And thus, sometimes the anger projected at you is as much at herself for not realizing and doing something earlier. Hopefully as things calm down she will come around. Encouraging to hear that your kids are thawing. It's a shock, and most people's first response to shock is anger.

    Could be. Or... it could also be that owning that label is scary, because it's pretty resolute. Many, many gay men, as they are becoming comfortable with who they are, rationalize their behavior with language. I had a friend who insisted that he was "homosexual" and not gay. I don't even remember the justification, but it was pretty ridiculous. Now he totally identifies as gay. Not to discount your experience... just to say that I think we all have bits of the 'bargaining' piece sticking around wherever we have internalized homophobia hiding out (which nearly all of us do.)

    That's got to be a record. "To serve you better, we'll ship your order sometime between this week and 2 months from now." Hopefully on the sooner end. :slight_smile:

    Let's hope we can all get to a place where hugs will be easier soon!
     
  3. quadratic

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    Tricky it all is. I also find that there's a societal attitude which makes sexuality hard to discuss: there's an entrenched notion of people being either gay or straight, with not much in the middle: indeed "biphobia" at least, used to be a thing amongst many gay men, who saw bisexuality as gay men not being true to themselves. This has led to any man who even so much as glances at another man with the merest of passing interest (say in a communal gym shower) is labelled as GAY and there's no turning back. Even with the alphabet being heavily used (LGBTIQA+) no single label can really encompass the rich and varying world of any individual's sexuality.

    I can understand your friend's labelling himself as homosexual (although it's not a label I'd choose; there's too much psychiatric baggage associated with it), if simply to differentiate himself from what he understood as "gay". This is sort of where I am, I guess - and you make some excellent points above. In the online bi-married men's group in which I used to be a frequent contributor, one man stoutly declared that he was just "sexual".

    There's also the issue that coming out as gay - even to oneself - has some definite political overtones. Even in the vaguely enlightened western world, to be gay is still to be "different", "one of them", "not one of us", and I ask myself if I want to be in that different world? The prevailing wisdom is that it's always better to be true to yourself, and to embrace the new world. Interestingly, when I emailed my eldest son, who's studying overseas, I said in the first line: "I've got news for you - your dad is gay."

    So I guess I'm still at that stage of formalizing my identity. This may seem stupid: why not just say "I'm gay" and have done with it? But I need to free myself first of any negative connotations, and as you so wisely say, there may be some internalized homophobia which needs first to be Firmly Dealt With. I'll challenge myself to duel at dawn - at ten paces, I say!

    Thanks again for the wisdom so generously given,
    Al
     
    #23 quadratic, Jul 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  4. Chip

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    For what it's worth, my friends and I often use some of the words (often considered derogatory) amongst ourselves, or to describe folks we know, simply because we find them hilarious and it's less tedious (and arguably less political) than the other words. A friend of mine says "I'm a big old 'mo (short for 'homo'). I often use the word 'poof', or sometimes the (very dated but delightful) 'friend of Dorothy'. And when one of the folks in my circle does something particularly stereotypical, one of the others will often just say "Fag" which always elicits something between amusement and concurrence. Or, for someone who's super gay, "Oh, he's a bonfire" (as in, flaming faggot). But I don't think (at least out this way, northern California) that 'gay' has much in the way of political meaning at this point. It's really just the most commonly used term. I think it's all about what is comfortable for you, and what people around you are used to or comfortable with.
     
  5. quadratic

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    I know what you mean; my gay son sometimes refers to himself as a "queer-o-sexual", which actually trips off the tongue very neatly. But it's one thing to joke amongst friends; quite another to label oneself in the way that the world (thinks it) understands.
     
  6. Nickw

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    @quadratic

    The label thing is a big issue for a lot of us. Maybe because we developed interpretations of what being gay was when we were younger? Maybe we could then say "I'm not gay" because we didn't meet that criteria. I know I did this. I know my FWB did this. We've had a lot of talks about the labeling issue.

    When I came out as bisexual, I made it a point, as you have, to call myself what I feared the most "gay". I did this so I could own that gay was a part of my sexuality. Now, my wife calls me gay when we are with my FWB (You gays....) My FWB will not let me own gay. He corrects me all the time and wants me to wear the "Bi" label. But, I call myself "not straight". It seems odd; but, that almost gives me a feeling of being better than being straight. I know this is lame. But, it is what it is. I'm not straight and that just seems like it fits the best.

    When I first started to have intimacy with men, I found myself using the label to initiate the process internally. "I'm gay so this is what a gay man does". Now, I find myself not so interested in defining anything about what I do. I just feel what I feel and I don't need the distraction that definitions provide me. I trust you will get to that point too.

    Labels can be valuable as you explore your sexuality and they can be a tool to aid in acceptance. But, ultimately, you get to define and own your label.
     
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  7. Chip

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    I'm reminded of the t-shirt "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is" :grin:
     
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  8. quadratic

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    I was just rung up for a chat by an old friend with whom I haven't spoken for a few weeks; he was as cheery and chatty as always, but mainly to say: "So I hear you've come out as gay now?" What could I do but agree.

    So I guess that means I must be

    [​IMG]
    or maybe
    [​IMG]
    No hiding now!
     
  9. Lyman

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    Hi, Quadratic. I’ve been reading your posts and I wanted to show some affection, as I understand your suffering (like everyone in this forum). Remember that it’s not your fault and that things will probably be alright within some time. In the meantime, throw yourself into work, reach out to supportive people, lean on EC, or whatever feels right at each moment.

    You’ve already been given lots of great advice, so I’m only adding a couple of things.

    I’m almost the same age as your gay son, and I have a theory about why he’s had the kind of emotional reaction he’s having. My personal journey has been far harder than it had to be because I’ve been given a terrible upbringing with respect to sexuality and affection (including some awful religious stuff), and because I’m pretty sure that coming out to my parents while living with them is a bad idea. So I’ve wasted many years living a lie.

    Now imagine that my dad/mum comes out as homosexual... I’m sure I would be extremely upset, like in: “So you’ve caused me so much pain and tribulations with your actions and remarks, making me believe that it was wrong to be how I was... All this for no reason?”

    Of course, I’m not saying that you consciously did anything to make your son feel that way, but according to what you’ve posted he clearly didn’t expect you to be supportive to a gay son:

    Nobody can tell why he thought that. But whatever the reason, again, it’s not your fault.

    By the way, if your wife and son(s) didn’t expect you to be non-homophobic, that confirms that your coming out as gay has been a huge shock to them. So, as others have said, they’ll need time to process it and, after that, they’ll probably come around.

    That also happened to me (and still does, to some extent) and, in my case, fear is the cause. What helps me is to remember that that scary word is just a concise way to communicate to others that being attracted to men is a part of who I am and have always been — IT ONLY MEANS THAT. I want to be out and proud one day, so having issues with terminology is something I can’t afford. I started with “fake it until you make it” and now I’m close to making it.

    I remember that I once read an interview with an author that said that about himself. His rationale was that we was so old (he’d been born in the 1920s) that he was “pre-gay”, that he was “pre-everything.” I think he meant that he was already a fully-fledged homosexual adult when the Gay Liberation Movement took place and even when “gay” started meaning more than “merry, lively” (1953). However, as a general rule for people not in their 90s, being scared of the word is a bad symptom.
     
  10. SiennaFire

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    Hi quadratic,

    Like you I came out later in life and went through the trials and tribulations of the transition. I'm happily on the other side today.

    I captured some of the things that I did to help myself heal the shame of being gay and accept myself in the following blog - Healing the shame of being gay.

    I hope that might help you as you go through this difficult transition period.

    Best,
    SF
     
    #30 SiennaFire, Jul 19, 2020
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  11. NotTooLoud

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    Wow, I feel sorry for your loss. I, too, lost most of family due to my ex-wife's brainwashing of our children and other members, even of my own family members. But, I believe those people made a decision. They were too narrow minded to see the gray areas and could only think in black and white. I grieved their loss for many months, and then I went on with my life, as though they had died, actually. I moved to a different city, and found a home, a new chuch, and a new family, although we are not related by blood. And now, I really don't think about them with regret or shame, just dissapointment for their decision. They were wrong to do what they did to me. If they want to be a part of my life, they better start by apologizing.
     
  12. quadratic

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    That sounds quite awful, but that isn't my case at all. There is no brainwashing; on the contrary, my wife has always aimed to be as fair-minded as possible. But when her husband of 30 years - a man to whom she has devoted over half her life - suddenly appears to be different to what she imagined, she certainly deserves some time to confront this new reality. And I don't want to lose touch with her or my children, even if at the moment I'm giving them all breathing space. They owe me no apologies - rather I need to apologise to them for so violently and suddenly upending their lives.
     
  13. NotTooLoud

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    I guess our situations were different. My wife never devoted herself to anyone but herself. She used me as a meal ticket and provider. She lied, cheated, and stole from me. I devoted myself to her, for fear of my gayness. The feeling was never mutual. I just don't trust any woman anymore, thanks to her.
     
  14. JessNC

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    Thanks for sharing your situation, Quadratic. It sounds like a lot of turmoil but a lot of sharing as well. Can hugs be sent online? If so, here's one for you.

    61 here in a long-term hetero marriage with two grown children and only now navigating same sex desires and gender identity awareness issues. I won't get into the details here but how you are handling things seems quite remarkable from my perspective.
     
  15. quadratic

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    Well thank you, JessNC, for your kind words. It's still pretty awful. I've tried reaching out to my gay son, who is not happy - he says it's a matter of trust, and can he trust me again? My wife is sad and bereft beyond measure: "just hanging on" she says, and again the issue is my hiding my orientation for so long. They tell me that had I come out, say, 20 years ago, we could have managed. Leaving it for so long simply (in their view) makes a mockery of the last decades of our relationships. I am "not a nice man", and also "dishonest". I had hopes of trying to reach out in a way that might encourage them to take a broader view, but clearly that time is not yet.

    However, I am receiving some counselling (fortnightly) which is very helpful at least in sorting out my own feelings. The counsellor (who is a woman) tells me - as indeed other clinical psychologists have before - that I can't be responsible for other peoples' feelings, and also that I can only live one life at a time. But this is scant comfort when my family are so unhappy with me.
     
  16. JessNC

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    Yes, that sounds extremely difficult. Perhaps, with time, they will see that your holding onto things wasn't just an act of denial but of valuing the people and the life you had? As you say, not much solace in the face of such rejection, I know. You are a brave person and your seeking out your truth with integrity is admirable.
     
  17. Nickw

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    Hey @quadratic

    I'm sorry that things continue to be so awful. It sounds like you are, at least academically, not blaming yourself too much for keeping this secret. But, it does bear repeating what many here have posted. It bears repeating to yourself. "Your sexuality is not a choice and you did not set out to deceive anyone."

    I'm not sure that anyone who has not lived it understands how we get to where we are, later in life, with this understanding of our sexuality. I know that I just had no idea how important my sexuality is to who I am. You, too, have suffered from over the last twenty years trying to live a life, for others really, that did not fit who you are.

    I hope your wife and children come around soon. The anger will, likely, resolve. In the meantime, hang in there!
     
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  18. KeLeWi

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    I wish I had words that would help you. I hate the cliché "give it time," but honestly, time will help. Your family needs time to reconcile the new reality with the past. They also need time to adjust to a new reality, as do you. More than anything they need to know that your life with them was not a mistake and that you have always loved them the best that you can. And that you would die for them. A love like that cannot be denied or ignored. You are still, and always will be, a man who loves them.