Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming Out

My relationship with Dave moved quickly, more out of necessity than anything else. I knew my parents would never support my decision, and so I quickly had to come up with living arrangements that didn’t include my parent’s basement. Dave spoke with his parents, who, although LDS, were extremely supportive of me, and it was decided that I would move in there.

I very clearly remember the Sunday afternoon that I told my mother I was moving out. I was, of course, extremely nervous. Luckily, she had already known about my same-gender attraction, so I didn’t have to start from the beginning. I had arranged for some friends of mine to show up with a truck at 7pm, and I already had most of my stuff organized in such a way that I could pack easily.

I can still feel the emotion of that day. I was so sad, because I knew I would no longer be a welcome member of my family, now that I had “acted out” on my tendencies. My mom was napping on the couch and I sat at her feet for almost half an hour before she noticed I was there. She finally asked me what was wrong.

It is very painful to recount what happened after that moment, so I’m going to skip over it briefly. I became an emotional mess. The only thing I could do was wall myself off from everything everyone was saying. Before I got done crying my entire family was in the room, my dad called home from work, my sisters called from their respective apartments, my bishop and his wife were there. At one point I found myself defending my right to live, as my father informed me he would rather see me dead than gay. My bishop, who was a kind and intellectual man, did the best he could to stop anyone from saying things that would be forever damaging, but things were still said.

I can’t say that I’m proud of myself in that moment, because I said some things I wish I wouldn’t have said as well. Finally, the doorbell rang, my friends there to bail me out. My dad helped me pack – I don’t know if he was trying to be helpful and apologetic for the things he had said to me, or if he was just trying to get me out of the house quicker.

My relationship with my parents and family has never been the same. I blame myself, partly, for that. I don’t know how I could have softened the blow for them, I don’t know how I could have prepared them better. I gave them almost two years of foresight, they had read the books, talked openly with me about my experiences in counseling (at this time I was still involved in counseling and group therapy), and although I know they wish I would have been capable of making a different choice, I feel as though I prepared them the best I could for either outcome. Still, it was a heart-wrenching experience for me to pull away from that house. I had to hide behind a bit of strength and defiance, and I wish I could have come off that evening with a little more kindness, but I didn’t know how.

That night, Dave’s mom cried with me for hours. I remember breaking down to her, and I remember her putting her arms around me and telling me that I was safe, and loved, and wanted. I didn’t understand how someone who was LDS could be so loving and kind to me. When I asked about this she simply stated, “God made you the way you are for some greater purpose. He knows more than we do.”

The next five months of my life were an adjusting period as I learned how to live as an out gay man. I attended church every week, held regular meetings with my priesthood leaders, and finished out my group counseling session, where everyone learned of my choice, and, surprisingly, received it well. One of the group members mentioned the first week after I had come out, that I walked in, sat down, and looked relaxed for the first time he had seen. They knew the time and effort I had put into my decision, and I was respected for it. I finished out the group therapy with a Christ-like love for my friends in that group, and hope they are all doing well. I wish them the best.

At the end of the five months, and I recount these next few experiences only for the sake of completeness, my relationship with Dave turned sour. Law enforcement showed up on our doorstep, and Dave confessed to me his desire to seek a relationship with underage boys. I was of the opinion that our relationship could still work, as long as we loved each other and he was willing to seek professional help, to which he agreed. But once his secret was out he didn’t feel any desire to hide it, and he began telling me about his trips to the local pool, and the young boys he met there, and how some of their parents were “OK” with him spending time with their son. When I confronted him about one particular boy, we got into an argument that resulted in his attempted suicide.

I saw Dave in the hospital a few days later, and told him how happy I was that he had survived. I told him how much I loved him, but then told him that if he was so scared to break up with me that he would rather kill himself, then I would do the hard work for him.

Dave’s parents asked me to stay in the home with them, because, they said, I had become a son to them. I told them I also felt a familiar bond, but that Dave was their son, and he needed their support.

I don’t regret any decisions I made, and am still very grateful for Dave and his amazing family. I do wish there would have been a way to slow down the relationship so that I could have learned about Dave’s problems before we moved in together.

I did feel cheated. I had given my heart to Dave, even if it was for only five months, but it was his completely. He had never loved me.

I knew that this was an opportunity to possibly get back into church, to live a celibate life, but I wanted so badly to be loved.

So I took the experiences I garnished, spent three months as a man with no commitments to anyone as I discovered myself, and enjoyed learning about the gay culture from my new roommate, who was kind enough to share his apartment with me for a few months. My new bishop was much kinder than the one in Dave’s ward, probably due to the fact that he was about 40 years younger, and I found myself easily able to confide in him. It was during these few months that I realized that the self-hatred I had harbored for so long was waning, and I could see the church side of me, and the gay side of me, finally getting along.

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