Sunday, March 9, 2008

Coming Out: My Story

photo from

I realized I was a homo at a relatively young age. Of course, I'd always had crushes on teachers, and babysitters...but I didn't really put two and two together until I was thirteen.

In sixth grade all the elementary-schoolers came together in a common middle school. That's when I met her. A beautiful, smart, athletic Irish girl with a very Irish name. We'll call her Meghan Flanagan. She and I became friends immediately, and had grown inseparable by the eighth grade. We had a lot in common. We were both very athletic, both honor students, we even both played the drums in the band! I began to notice that when her knee touched mine, or there was any other kind of physical contact between us, I felt all funny inside, a rush would go through me, and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This feeling made me want to increase the amount of physical contact, naturally. It was also about that time in life, when all the other girls our age started to talk about boys constantly, and tried to arrange kissing parties and crap like that. You couldn't even have a conversation with one of them without the subject of boys coming up.

Typical conversation:

"I like Bobby, who do you like?"

"I like Meghan." Is what I wanted to say, but instead I would just name some boy, who seemed to be popular, "Eh, Michael."

"No, Lori already likes Michael, who else do you like?"

My eyes would roll back in my head, "Well, who's available, you know, that's decent?"

"Jimmy's available."

"Okay, I like Jimmy, can I go now, Meghan's waiting for me?"

It was a frustrating time for me, and I wasn't really sure why. One day, we were all at study hall talking, and someone said someone else was queer. "What's that mean?" I asked.

"You know, it's when a boy likes boys, or a girl likes girls, homosexuals!"


Inner conversation: Holy crap, I'm part of something bigger. I'm a homosexual! I'm not the only one, there are others like me. This is great! Where are they? How do I find them?

Rumor had it that the high school PE teacher was queer, and I thought about talking to her about it, but I was too scared. What if she wasn't? What would happen to me, if I told her I was? Would I be kicked out of the girls locker room, unable to participate in sports, forced to where a big orange sign declaring that I'm a sexual deviant and should not be trusted?!

Things were different back then. It was 1974. There was no gay visibility. No role models, no alliances, organizations, community centers, and certainly no Internet! I looked up homosexual in the dictionary, found the words, deviant, pervert, lesbian and Sappho. I went from there, trying to find out about my culture, my social possibilities. Somehow I found some books on homosexuality in the town pharmacy. Too embarrassed and ashamed to buy them, I shop-lifted them, took them home and read them. What I read painted a dark and dismal picture of what my life might be like. Most of the information was about men, and it was explained that data on women was not easily obtained because they were not as visible or accessible. It seems there was also a very high percentage of suicide by lesbians who, because they were catholic, were told they'd burn in hell if they lived their lives as lesbians. Pretty bleak. My take on it was, you also burn in hell for killing yourself, so why not try to enjoy your life? Seemed like the lesbians were all becoming nuns, offing themselves, or living in seclusion with some other lesbian they'd somehow managed to find, or just lots of cats. I wondered if I would ever find anyone I was attracted to, that also happened to be a lesbian. The odds seemed to be against it.

I also was babysitting around that time in my life, and one of the guys I babysat for liked the Penthouse Magazines, and had issues dating back for ten years or so. I would look through them, and occasionally they would have a spread of women pictured together. When I found these, I would cut them out and take them home with me. They went into a drawer at my bedside along with all the stolen books.

One day, I came home from school and the contents of that drawer out on the bed, along with my Mother looking very distraught.

"What is all this?"

"God Mom, can't you see what it is? I'm gay." I was a little miffed that she'd invaded my privacy.

My parents arranged for me to see a psychologist, because they had no clue what to do or say. I obliged them, since they promised it would just be the one visit, and it went like this.

shrink: What subjects do you like in school?

Me: Science, English, Art, and Gym

shrink: What sports do you like?

me: Field hockey, basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming...

shrink: Do you think the women from the Penthouse Magazine pictures are sexy?

me: No, I think they're slutty. I prefer much more wholesome women.

shrink: Your parents gave me a list of the books you have. That's quite an impressive reading list. Did you read them all?

me: Yes.

shrink: What did you think?

me: I was disappointed that most of the data was about men.

There was more, but I don't remember most of it. When he was done with me, he called my parents in and he told them, he did not think it was a problem for me, and they should try not to make it one. They followed his advice, and told me, that they didn't understand it, but they love me anyway.

I consider myself very lucky, not only that my parents reacted as they did, but that the psychologist they took me to, was not a neanderthal, because it all could have gone down a lot differently.


Benjamin Boudreau said...

Ah the coming out story. Thanks so much for sharing. You were very brave where many other people surely were not, so kudos for that. I'd post mine but it was essentially me telling the folks, the folks hugging me and saying how proud they were, oh - and not to steal my mom's shoes but that part was just to get a laugh the way my family usually does. A lot has changed in twenty years, huh?

RED MOJO said...

benjamin, Oh if only it were only twenty years ago, but yes, the times they are a changin! I envy the kids today, and I'm sure they'll envy those that come after them. It's a good thing!

kj said...

rm, what a service you provide in telling this story. myself, i fell in love with a woman first and had to backtrack to find out what it all meant, how i fit in. even then it took me years to fully accept myself and be happy about who i am and who loves me. only when i look back now do i understand i was attracted to women even in high school, even as i was trying to be cool dating cool guys...

citizen of the world said...

Oh thank God. I was so afraid it was going to turn out that you'd been sent to one of those "turn you straight" hyper religious psychologists (which,incidentally, is in direct contradiction to APA's official stance that homosexulaity is not pathological). Anyway, quite selfishly, I'm glad your shrink was one of the good guys. But the post wasn't really about that was it? Interesting story, and I'm sorry about your parents' initial reaction.

Ces said...

You are very brave and honest. I wish you the best RM!

TheWeyrd1 said...

Thanks for sharing... And I thought you were taking a break.

Slip said...

Why is it that people seem to think that life style choices of others is their's to judge? No one answer is right for everyone and this new found freedom to be who you are is quite refreshing.

Also... Why all the impotence placed on the act of coupling? It is such a small part of the total of who we are. Like myself, if we did not have more in common, what would my bride and I talk about after the three minutes of sex?

RED MOJO said...

Thanks kj, I just thought I'd share that. The struggle is different for everyone, but I think some of the fear is the same.

cit, I'm glad too. Like I said, it could have been a lot different.

ces, Thank you. I wish you the best too.

theweyrd1, I did. Kind of...should I take a longer one?

RED MOJO said...

slip, I understand the meaning of your comment, and I know it's well intentioned, but I'll share with you this, about that.
"lifestyle choice" is a bad phrase to use, because we don't consider being gay a "lifestyle" and more than being straight is one, and we don't consider being gay a choice. You can choose wether to be openly gay, but not your sexual preference. I didn't choose mine any more than you chose yours. It's like saying I chose blue eyes.
You're right about the emphasis being on sex. It's all people like the Concerned Christian Women's Group of America, think we do. I wish!

Slip said...

You got me there, poor choice of wording on my part I know that sexual orientation is not a choice. Life style is more then than who we sleep with, it is about how we elect to live all aspects of our life. Some folks drive beemers, some pick-up trucks,some like neon and pavement, some like moon light and dirt roads.
Also I do not know what happened but I did not get your E-mail. Please Please resend it!

roro said...

What a fantastic coming out story!! I totally love how honest you were with yourself, and then your mom and the shrink. I also totally love that you were like "Nuns? Suicide? WTF?" but still faced the gayness head-on and hoped for the best. Brave AND awesome!!

RED MOJO said...

slip, moonlight and dirt roads. I sent it again. If you don't get it maybe you should hit my link for follow up comments and I can reply to you.

roro, Aw shucks. Thank you. I never really thought of that way, but if you think I'm brave and awesome, that's cool. ;)

Slip said...

dirt roads and moonlights here too! I put my E-mail on your semi-super secret other blog! Oh what the hell I will put it here too.
Please forgive my lack of political correctness as I grew up with a father that did not judge anyone for being whatever they were. He truly excepted them as they were and that has rubbed off. I will never make a good spin doctor.

RED MOJO said...

slip, there is nothing to forgive. I know your heart's in the right place, just stay out of politics!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You were very lucky to have parents who loved you unconditionally and also that the shrink was an intelligent person w/o righteous religiosity. But most of all, you are lucky to be you.

What ever happened to Meghan?

RED MOJO said...

Heartinsanfrancisco, I am lucky, I know. My parents are great!

The rest of the story with Meghan is not a pretty one. I wrote her some letter declaring myself to her, which freaked her out, we were very young. She showed her parents, they forbade her to speak to me. I was crushed. She spread the word of my proclivity around the school, I was an outcast, and high school sucked. The end.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oh, crap. I'm so sorry that happened. Ignorance abounds.

I have always felt sorry for those who can't love anyone at all.

Baino said...

Hi Mojo, over from Bird Anonymous' place. Inspiring story. Especially to recognise your orientation so young . .so many try an embarrassingly awful hetero life before they face the truth. Good on you! Love the blog to, I'll visit more often if that's OK with you?

RED MOJO said...

baino, I'm honored you want to read my blog. Please, be my guest. Thanks for stopping in!