Friday, August 11, 2006

Sunday, August 06, 2006
On coming out

In my last blog I made a point about being out to family, friends, and colleagues at work. I just want to make clear, however, that my coming out was no act of courage on my part; I was pushed out of the closet by the fickle finger of fate. In 1994 my then partner, who has since passed away, contracted a devastating form of lymphoma, and suddenly all my efforts outside of work were dedicated to seeing him through his illness. We had no time or energy to stay in the closet; frankly, we had much more important things to worry about.

Within a few weeks of his becoming ill, my gayness was right out there for the world to see. And lo and behold, it made almost no difference at all. My sister and brother in law were no problem, and even my then 77 year old mother took all of three weeks to get used to the idea. I lost no straight friends, and my relationship with colleagues and business associates was completely unchanged. I remember having thought back to the early 1960s, when even at one of the most liberal and progressive colleges in the US, being caught in an homosexual situation would have resulted in immediate expulsion and therefore, with little exaggeration, a seriously damaged life. Despite all we still have to do in terms of tolerance and acceptance, we have really accomplished a great deal, guys.

Unfortunately, however, I can't advocate breaking down the closet doors for everyone. I'm fully aware that my situation was in certain respects quite privileged:

1) I was director of my office, highly respected in my field, and therefore very useful to business associates and colleagues. Cutting me because I am gay would have been quite self destructive on their part. At that point I was also sufficiently financially established to afford even losing my job, if need be.

2) I was able emotionally to carry the idea across to my mother that either she accept my being gay or she would lose me as a son. I never actually said anything so brutal to her, but she knew that I was perfectly capable of walking out of our relationship if she gave me any trouble in this regard. I learned later that several of her friends who know me, and my sister, had told her the same thing, even quite directly.

3) Although I had never previously said I was gay, I had long since given up playing straight by dating women or saying things to imply that I was straight. So, my friends and colleagues didn't feel deceived when the truth came out.

4) It may be objected that my friends remained with me because it's pretty hard to cut a guy who is devoting a good part of his life to caring for his dying partner. But that isn't really fair to my friends, who have continued our friendship after my partner's death and are still friends with me and my new partner today. I just was pretty good at choosing friends.

So, coming out isn't always for everyone. But guys, it really is a lot easier to breathe outside of the closet.

posted by Bruce at 6:23 PM

The_Gay_Dude said...

I would never dream of going back into the closet....once ya cross that barrier....whether things are tougher or easier for ya doesn't matter....cuz how ya feel what counts.....

Monday, August 07, 2006 12:58:08 AM

charlie said...

Bruce Sorry to hear about your partner. It is hard to find a posituve side to things at times but I thik that you having your Gay Freedom is positive. You will never forget your partner I know but if it were not for him you may still be in the closet hiding the real you.

God Bless,

So osrry to hear aout your partner, even though it seems like the rest of coming out was a breeze!

My first partner Robbie died of leukemia just two years after we began dating, and even though I wasn't out at the time, my family knew there was something wrong...

My coming out was also by default when finally shared with one of my sisters what I was going through, and she proceeded to tell everyone else...

You have the opportunity now to make a real positve difference in the lives of those you love because of this horrible tragedy... And, from the sounds of your post, you do!


Monday, August 07, 2006 12:35:37 PM


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