Friday, November 04, 2005

Deafening silence...

Thank you - all of you.

The comments and affirmations I've received in the short time I've renewed my journey out of the dark have been overwhelmingly positive - for which I thank God. But while this is gratifying, it is also not overly surprising. After all, the people to whom I've come out so far have been the folks I'm closest to, and the folks I've considered "safest." That was intentional.

After the guys in my AA sponsorship circle, the next group of "close" friends I decided to come out to were folks in my former church home in Kansas. Part of the weirdness of this process is trying to do this by email, since I have no plans (or funds) to travel to Kansas anytime soon.

A couple people have asked, "Why even bother telling those folks? They are 600 miles away - they're out of your life!" That statement, however, is only half true. Many of the folks back in Kansas were the ones whose prayers, phone calls, emails, and active financial support carried me in the months after my seminary career fell apart...and for months afterwards. They were a part of my life - at least, the 60-90% (depending on whose estimates you use) that I was willing to share, exclusive of my sexuality.

The first one of my Kansas contacts, my "adoptive grandma" and dear friend Sandy, was wonderful - I got a response back the same day basically saying, "Yeah, OK. So you're gay. You're still you - nothing's changed. I love you." Earlier this evening, the pastor of my former congregation responded, with virtually the same sentiment.

The third person, however, hasn't respond. Not that day. Not the next day. Not yet, in fact.

The silence has become somewhat deafening.

This whole process is proving to me how much I depend on the approval of others. At a basic level, I know I will be OK, regardless what this person (or any of the other people I get honest with) eventually decide. But at another level, I'm selfish enough that I want this person (and other people yet to be contacted) to be part of my life - to have them stay in touch with me, to wish me well, to pray for me. I have history with these people - after all, we laughed, cried, celebrated and mourned, prayed and worshipped together for almost 13 years.

Of course, a more rigorously-honest evaluation would be that I don't want all that life (and all that history) to become disposable or valueless because of my sexuality
- especially a sexuality that I haven't actually acted-out on in more than two decades.

Evidently I need an MP3 recording of "I Am What I Am" (one of the famous gay anthems from the Broadway version of La Cage Aux Folles) along with one of "The Way I Was Made" - preferably set to continuous looping. Wish I could justify the cost of an iPod - but unfortunately I have a whole list of expenses that way outrank that little expenditure.

"...and the beat goes on..."


  1. A very close friend had some trouble accepting me being gay and we were out of touch for a while. (There were other circumstances involved, but I knew from his reaction when I came out that it was at least part of the problem.) A few years later, I just dropped a line to bring him up to date, and then things just went back to normal. I think he had had time to adjust (and listen to his wife who had taken it in stride) and also for the culture around him to shift a bit and take him with it. It was interesting comparing him (an ardent atheist) to one of my college roommates (an ardent and rather conservative Catholic). The Catholic seemed to understand and accept quickly, although his wife's easy acceptance made it easier for him. The atheist was thrown for a loop.

    Anyway, sometimes people need to step back and absorb things. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don't. As a dear nun friend told me of friendships in general, "We can hold people, but we can't hold on."

    Good luck with this one and with the continued story.

  2. Damian is a very smart guy and I think it is important to listen to him. But also remember that although you are into this process of coming out 100%, other's you tell may not be and probably have stuff of their own going on. This person not getting back right away might or might not be because of what you wrote. It could be because of what is going on with them. And you have to know that some - in particular in the "Christian Community" will not be able to accept this regardless of your actual sexual activity. And they are within their right to feel the way they feel - just as you are within your rights to be who you are.

    Whatever, again - good luck.

  3. I think that Damien and Cinders offer wise advice. I would add only this -- Your long-term friends have two things to absorb and adjust to: (1) the fact that you are gay, and (2) the fact that you hid this from them for many years.

    Sometimes it is the former that takes getting used to, sometimes the latter, and sometimes both.

    With respect to the latter, your silent friend may be feeling as if he/she was betrayed or fooled, or may be feeling hurt because he/she has no animosity toward gays and wonders why you didn't feel safe enough to come out to him/her sooner, a sense of "I know that many people ... but why did you think that of me? Did Rainbow Guy not trust me?"

    I don't know what is going on, but I think you nailed the problem, which is not your friend, but you ... a need for acceptance and a self-centeredness that wants acceptance to come easy and fast, regardless of where the other person is right now or is coming from right now. I'm not trying to play psychologist, but this is what I'm hearing from what you wrote. It sounds like this might be something you should think about with your AA sponsor.

    But the bottom line is, as Damien and Cinders both point out, be patient, and don't push the issue with your silent friend.