Each year-end news media and other organizations roll out their top ten or top twenty-five lists. I decide to put together some year-end lists of my own. They won’t necessarily be limited ten or twenty-five items. My previous post had twelve favorite sunrise or sunset photos that I took in 2012 This list has eight highlights of my first year as an out gay man.
The year 2012 has been remarkable for me. I took a temporary early retirement at the end of 2011. I had some ideas and plans for what I would do. Those were totally rocked by an experience I had on March 30.
I saw a list of the 25 Most Notable Coming Outs of 2012. This post is about the coming out that was the most notable to me.
March 30, 2012 - Having The Premonition
This premonition is what changed my life and sent me in a totally unexpected direction. Most of my friends and family have a hard time understanding there is a spiritual aspect to coming out and finding a partner. Here is one of the posts that describes the first spiritual experience and a later spiritual experience that helped me move on when I got discouraged. I hope people will read this if they feel they need a better understanding of why I came out.
I know most of the people who know me outside of my gay circle do not agree or understand what or why I am doing. I do not know if I will change any minds, but getting people to change their minds is not a high priority for me. I am very thankful for those who have found a way to withhold judgment and be happy for me.
The Help I Received from Seth and Micheal
It took some time after March 30 to start coming out. After some frustrating searches for resources to help me as an older person understand my journey and start coming out, I stumbled across Seth’s blog. I read about an out gay man who was living a good, happy life with an identity that extended beyond being gay. I did not necessarily find information on how to come out. What I found was encouragement to help me live my full life which included being who I was and am – a gay man. I sent Seth a thank you e-mail, not expecting any response, and received one of the most genuine and caring messages in return that I have ever received.
A week or so later I ran across Michael’s video on Far Between. When he talked about realizing that he was not meeting the measure of his creation by trying to change from being gay, that hit me like a thunderbolt.
A few weeks later I realized that Seth and Michael were partners even though they lived in separate states. They are together now in Utah. Our digital friendship continues to the present. I hope to meet them someday.
I came out in phases. I was out to around thirty people by the end of May. I shocked myself by coming out to my Facebook friends the weekend of most of the June Pride Parades. My geographic and digital communities are relatively small so the word has spread to most of the people who know me through where I live or the social media that I use. I am probably out to around 500 people as of year-end.
The most unexpected thing I learned was that coming out just confirmed what almost half of my closest friends and family already knew. Some people have pulled away from me, which is to be expected. Some who pulled away later returned. I have also strengthened friendships from the past. I really appreciate everyone who has been there for me. I’ve had some nice surprises of love and support.
Coming out is still an ongoing experience. It is scary at any age. It is nice to see more people, organizations, and religions realizing that sexual and gender orientation are not choices.
I never met anyone who had to come out because of the color of their eyes. I hope some day that coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer will be irrelevant.
Working with Mormons for Marriage Equality, Affirmation, and Mormon Allies on the Mormons marching in Pride Parades
This was the first place where I found a community. I met (via the internet) gay and lesbian couples who had successful long-term relationships. I learned about the children some of them raised together. I met straight allies who were donating their time and money for a cause of civil justice that, sometimes, had no direct impact on their families or friends.
I had come out slowly to close family and a few friends. When I offered to send press releases for the Washington DC Pride Parade, it forced me to come out of the closet to people who I did not know.
I worked with Sara, Scott, Lorian, Hugo, Randall, John (DC) and John (MN), Mitch, Sean, Evan, Tina, Robert, and Joanna on the media contacts for their parades. I later worked with Anne on the California CTW media list.
It is amazing how close you can grow to people who you have never met in person. Many of these friendships continue today.
Scott is one of the straight allies. He is one of the few people I have met in person. That happened during a trip to Washington to visit last spring. Scott sent a message the other day saying, “It is incredible how far you’ve come since we met in Seattle.” “Incredible” is a good word that describes this year.
Discovering People I Knew from High School and College Are in the LGBTQ Community
This was another big surprise. Some of the people are out while others are not. I had no idea about some of the people, just like around forty percent of the people closest to me were shocked when I came out to them.
Some followed the religious advice of the time that said getting married would “cure the gay.” They were not “cured,” but have remained faithful to their spouses.
One person came out to his family around the same time I was coming out to my family. He is a few years older than I am, which gave me some more encouragement.
It has been nice to talk and correspond with these people from the past. I am inspired by their lives and decisions.
Reading the Blog Post My Straight Nephew Wrote
The post was about his time managing an apartment complex in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Gay District. He enjoyed the bagel shops, the used CD store, and people watching.
Here are a few excerpts:
“Maybe I was naïve. I’m sure I was. Yet I don’t recall anyone judging me for who I was while I lived on Capitol Hill. One meets a number of good and not so good people trying to rent apartments close to a large city. But, for the most part, people were incredibly kind to me at a time in my life when I had no family and few friends to fall back on.”
. . .
“I postponed writing this post for a few days while I gathered my thoughts. Last night I’d decided to keep my thoughts to myself. But today I decided to write. My aim is not change minds as I know that’s impossible. No, I decided write because I’d like my children to know where I stand on the issue and learn from the mistakes I made when I was their age.
I look forward to the day when I tell people I lived on Capitol Hill they ask me about the bagels.”
The complete post is here. I think Brett writes well.
Being Welcomed by the Members and Board of the Triad Pride Men’s Chorus (TPMC)
Some people feel that Facebook and social media fills the role that in-person support organizations use to fill for coming out, meeting people, and finding answers to questions. The digital world has tons of helpful information, but it does not replace meeting people in your area who are gay and facing some of the same challenges that you face.
The TPMC was my portal to my local LGBTQ community. It was nice to see that people can be out and have good lives even in a state that is not particularly gay-friendly. They welcomed me even though none of them knew me. I especially appreciated Robert’s patience as I bombarded him with questions so I would understand my responsibilities.
I attended rehearsals even though I am a non-singing board member. I wanted to understand how the organization ran. I saw similarities between how a choral program develops and comes together with my former work on systems conversions. The chorus has Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Baritone, and Bass. The Artistic Director pulls them together into a cohesive unit like we pulled together the Checking/Savings, CD/IRA, Loan, and General Ledger systems into a core processing system during conversions.
The TPMC members and accompanying musicians make beautiful music. They provide fellowship. They give service. I appreciate the members of the Chorus and the members of the Board. I appreciate our supporters from the gay and straight Triad communities.
Here are videos of Act I and Act II of “Celebrate,” the most recent Christmas holiday concert performed at Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University.
Sending the Message Asking a Guy I Met a Few Months Earlier if He Would be Interested in Dating, and Finding Out He Had Hoped I Would Ask
My Facebook friends have seen our photos and my blog friends have read some posts. I have not written a lot about the details of the start of our relationship. Maybe (with his concurrence) that will be in a future post.
I decided years ago to stay single and in the closet. On March 30 an unrequested, unexpected, and unwanted premonition put me on a different path. My path is not everyone’s path. Each of us needs to discover and follow our own journey.
I am fifty-seven and I am in love. I never thought I would say those words. I am so happy.
Tomorrow’s post will be another list of photo favorites.