I rarely thought about coming out or even considered myself gay until I was in my early forties. When I was in my teens and twenties, I knew I had an appreciation and affinity for other good looking guys. But there was no way I could be “gay.” I had not experimented with other guys and had only dated a couple of women. I was totally in denial about my sexuality and not even near being closeted. I had a very naive and immature understanding of sexual identity and of being gay. At the time “gay” meant to me you were effeminate or flamboyant. Role models for gay people for me came from film and TV. I thought only actors like Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly were gay. That was not my nature or behavior. Gay also meant to me that you were considered to be a deviant, marginalized person. The only stories I knew about gays were sad, pathetic or tragic. You could not be successful or respected unless you wanted to have a stereotypical career as a hairdresser or other gay job. I wasn’t interested in that. Besides, I enjoyed being with my women friends. And even had sex with a couple of them. When I married, I truly loved my wife. Homosexual thoughts were rarely part of the early stages of the relationship. I was determined that I was straight despite the thoughts otherwise that floated around in my mind on occasion.
As time went on, I found myself becoming more ridged and controlling in my life and of the people around me. I experienced periods of depression and bouts of anger. I started to question my straightness. After I discovered the internet and found that there were similar married men with the same feelings and fantasies, I began to finally question my sexual identity. First, I considered myself as “bi” or having some gay tendencies. But I had no intention of leaving my marriage. I still could not conceive that I was gay. This went on for several years. What changed for me was when I met my soon to be partner Eddie. He was also a married man with a family questioning his next stage of life. We talked for days about changing our lives and coming out; we spent time together discovering our compatibility and mutual interests. Soon we fell in love and wanted to make a life together. I finally got it. I was in love with a man that I wanted to spend all my time with. I could not fake straightness any longer. I needed to transform.
When I decided to come out, I did it with the assumption that my ex-wife would never talk to me again. It would be a constant losing battle to see my kids. My parents, siblings, and rest of my family would shun me. They would be disgusted, appalled and angry with me. I also feared that I would lose most of my friends. I thought they would all side with my ex. I was even unsure how my employer would deal with it. Would I be allowed to keep my job or had I been too deceitful? Would they still want to work with me and trust me?
The decision to come out was truly stepping out into a void. I was taking on the risk of losing family, friends and career. I could be starting over again with absolutely nothing. I was a wreck when I did it. I was scared and frightened. I cried for weeks about anything. The divorce was painful. But over time it all settled down and worked itself out. It took a year for the divorce to be final. The ex and I have a workable agreement for co-parenting the kids and handing money. Most, but not all, family and friends have stayed connected with us. The concern about my job was a lot of worry about nothing. I am more relaxed and contented and less depressed then I was before. I find that I am spontaneous and involved and excited about life.
I have no regrets about coming out. Or of coming out late in life. I had some great times being married to the opposite sex. I have wonderful children. And now I am married to a fantastic and extraordinary man and we have lots of plans for the future.
10 gay signs I missed while growing up.