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Long shadow of married gay man coming out of the shadows. Coming Out: A Long Process (for a Married Guy)

The first person I came out to was my wife.  I think I told her something like, “I have to admit that I sometimes feel a little bisexual, I think, maybe, perhaps, or maybe not.”

Okay, that’s not really what I told her, but it comes close to the idea of whatever words I actually used.  At the time, what I thought I had told her was, “I want to get it on with a guy or as many guys as I can.”  

What she heard me say was, “I can recognize an attractive man when I see one.”

I realized how unsuccessful my communication had been a year or two later.  I decided to tell her a secret.  A high school buddy and I fooled around for two years. Her response was, “Oh, that doesn’t mean anything.  Don’t worry about it.  Lots of boys experiment at that age.”

I guess when you experiment with a process long enough you finally get good at it!

She had actually dated my “friend” for a while–not intimately–so I felt obligated to tell her that she had made the right choice, because he had a small dick.  (That’s true.  She did date him, and he did have a small dick–at least as a junior in high school.  There’s always this nagging desire to see if it has grown any since then!  Ah, first love….)

My coming out to her continued to be a gradual process.  I loved her and didn’t want to hurt her.  In retrospect that I was just leading her to what I must have known was the inevitable.

My next coming out phase came after our amicable, although emotional, divorce.  I had started going to a gay fathers’ support group.  That collection of generous men did a lot to allay my fears.  They also contributed significantly to my own acceptance of my sexuality.

The meetings were held in a room in an Episcopal Cathedral complex that happened to be just a block from where I was living after my separation.  The first time I went to a meeting, I walked back and forth on the sidewalk four times before I checked to see if anyone I knew happened to be standing behind a tree spying on me.  I told myself, “It’s now or never” (a bit of an exageration, but lying to yourself can help at times).

I still consider stepping into that room the most important part of my coming out process.  I also used other support groups available to gays in my city.  Some men use gay bars as a beginning of their process, with me it was groups.  Either way, when you can walk into that bar or group without worrying about who knows, you are way more than half way through the struggle.

Coming out for me–and for many gays and bisexuals–is never finished.  Almost every new person we meet in the world will assume that we are straight.  My rule of thumb is that if they are not important in my life, I don’t bother telling them I’m gay.  I doubt that guy on the subway in Madrid that I talked to through four or five stops needed to know my sexuality.

If I care about the person or if they have some sort of impact on my daily life, I tell them.

Oh, there are times when I tell people who don’t really meet that rule of thumb. Sometimes telemarketers or phone survey people will ask to speak to the “lady of the house.”  In that case, I tell the caller that the lady of the house is a man, but I’m not sure which one of us it is.

One time I was in the new car market.  During a test drive, the salesman said, “Is there a ‘little woman’ who will be choosing the color?”

I replied, “The little woman is a big man , and he lets me choose my own color.”

I didn’t buy from him.  I wasn’t sure what part of his remark most angered me.   Was it the use of the term “little woman,” which I find sexist.  Was it his assumption that I was straight?  Was it that he thought I wouldn’t care what color I would get (I care too much about that!)?  By the way, I did tell him that his remark cost him the sale. (In fact, I didn’t like the vehicle, but I didn’t want him to know that!)

Fortunately for me, it’s been an easy process.  None of my worst fears happened.  It’s almost been a dream-like process for me.  I know many other men have not had it so easy.  

If you are thinking about beginning the process or taking it to the next step, I wish you the best.

Greg, Wisconsin

P.S.  Please share your fears, hopes or experiences about coming out with our readers.  See our “share” page.

 

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