Thursday, October 11, 2007

come out, come out where ever you are!

When I moved here, my first friends in DC were all gay men. The most welcoming of them are two guys that I affectionately called, The Boys. I met one of them at work. His name was Ryan. And we were both stuck at the Crap. The other Boy was Charles and he was Ryan's partner. They lived together in a cute basement apartment on the Hill. And when I finally found a place to live, I became their neighbor.

Words cannot express how grateful I was to The Boys for taking me under their fashionably designer wings. They showed me the ropes of living in the city, a place I would eventually begin to accept as my home. So when I had no place to go for my first Thanksgiving in DC, I was not surprised that Ryan was nice enough to invite me to spend the holiday with his family near Richmond. I accepted without hesitation. I had no doubt that I would feel comfortable with Ryan's family.

Late Thanksgiving Eve, on the drive down to Colonial Heights, Ryan decided to drop a bombshell. He said, "There's something I should tell you before we get to my mom's house. They don't know I'm gay." Whaaaa? I was confused. This guy wore designer clothing, even if that meant he couldn't pay rent that month. And he had been living with his partner for quite some time. So, I asked, "Why?" Ryan replied, "Well, they're not as accepting down here as they are in DC. And they think Charles is my roommate They might suspect, but they definitely don't know."

At that point, a light bulb went off in my head. "Does your family think that you're bringing home a friend or a girlfriend?" I asked. Ryan answered, "Ummm...I think I said 'friend'." Oh great.

We arrived at his mom's house and were greeted by his cousins--all female. They were incredibly pleasant. We walked into the house and I could smell all of the typical Thanksgiving aromas. I saw all of the food that was on the table and noticed (for the first time ever) that deviled eggs were part of the holiday food offerings. Interesting.

Eventually, I met Ryan's mom. She was a gentle woman, a cancer survivor. And she was incredibly happy to see me. She took a break from cooking just to talk to me and get to know me better. After a long chat in the kitchen, Ryan abandoned me and left me alone with his mom. Ryan's mom took me into another room in the house (a study of some sort) and pulled out a photo album. She began to show me pictures of Ryan as a little boy, pictures of his older sister, and her extended family. I heard tales of their family history. Ryan's mom really wanted to make me feel like part of the family.

I began to feel like a fraud. Like I was the family's last hope that Ryan wasn't gay.

Still, the decision to come out was not mine to make, but Ryan's.

The following year, Ryan's mother became incredibly ill. Her cancer had come back with a vengeance. She eventually passed. Ryan never had the heart to come out to her.

However, Ryan eventually came out to the rest of his family. They've accepted him and his partner with open arms.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Please do consider coming out to those you love and who love you back.

You might be surprised by their capacity to love you just as you are.

2 comments:

Madame M. said...

So sad :o(

But sometimes it's hard to visualize the end tunnel when you're in the darkness of your soul.

sunchaser said...

I didn't know it was Nat'l coming out day, but it's funny that it is and that you've written about this, because I've been listening to Dan Savage rather frequently.

I wonder if he's written anything or done any podcasts dedicated to making the coming out process easier? I wouldn't be surprised if he had. I love love love him! Funny and still (mostly) pretty sensitive/compassionate at the same time.

(I also love his ability to laugh at himself - like how he admits to not knowing how to download music on his ipod, so he only has 2-3 songs on it :)