On Thursday, I had a day from the bowels of hell at The Evil Empire, and it took the entire AA meeting, getting introduced to the mother of my sponsee's child, and a pralines-&-cream ice cream cone to detox from it. But I find that my Higher Power usually holds the best gifts for last, and tonight that gift was waiting for me in my Gmail inbox.
In previous posts, I've shared about my history in a Masonic youth group called DeMolay, and how part of my struggles about coming out to a dear friend would be to put the kabosh on ever participating in DeMolay advisorship again. (And there's a hundred other good reasons not to do that - but it was still aggravating.)
The email was from a DeMolay advisor in Buffalo, NY - saying that he'd found my blog, and thought I'd be interested in an article in the Buffalo Evening News, an editoral written by his son.
His gay son. His gay DeMolay son.
The article is a little over 2,700 words, and ran in the August 31st edition of the paper. I got a copy of it from their archives, and would be glad to share it with you if you click on my email link or comment below. It describes his coming-out experience as a 15-year-old student at Grand Island High School in Grand Island, NY. He came out to two of his best friends, and they in turn encouraged him to come out to his parents, and then to his close circle of friends. Then a year ago, he came out to the entire school on National Coming Out Day 2005. It goes on to describe some of his fears, hopes, and experiences as an out gay teen.
I read that article, and my first reaction was, "Oh...my....God. What an incredible story..."
My second (and entirely self-centered) reaction was, "Damn... I wish I'd had a tenth of the courage this guy has when I was 18..." I was just completely blown away by this young man and his journey.
And yet - Abram Morgan and I, despite more than thirty years separating us, have much in common in our stories. He starting his "outing" with two good friends; mine began with my two dear friends in AA who were gay, with whom I have shared much that has been important over the last two years. And the first two straight people I told were also two friends whom I trusted deeply.
Like Abram's father, the people I was most worried about were the ones for whom my sexuality was no surprise (like my friends Eric or my other Kansas friends) or no big deal.
Like Abram, I am less afraid of other people's emotional reactions and more afraid of their physical reactions. My friend Tom would walk through Hyde Park with a black leather cowboy hat, a black leather bomber jacket, and an enormous bright purple scarf that pretty well screamed its message. But, as I've often teased him, it's a little easier to be that "screaming" when your a former Special Forces soldier. When you're an out-of-shape ball of confrontation avoidance (as I am), it's a little tougher to pull off the bravado...
But I am learning...slowly.
There are, however, a couple ways in which I envy Abram Morgan his life and his courage. I remember back to my own days as a 19 and 20 year old in DeMolay, and how two of the guys in my own "posse" got caught "in the act." It immediately fractured the gang into two almost evenly-divided groups. The homophobes were on one side, yelling "Fag!" and other niceties, while the "homo-lovers" (as we were called) gathered around our two buddies and did our best to buffer them from the hatred and invective. It was also tragic that while a couple of us did actually end up coming out ourselves, the majority of the "friendly" crew were (and are) straight. And accepting, and loving. (But none of the homophobes would believe that, of course...seems they never do. All gay-friendly folks just have to be fags....)
Ten years later, as an advisor, I listened to a young man tell how he was being driven out of the chapter by his friends - guys whom he had trusted and cared for. He wasn't gay - but he had admitted to them that he'd had some kinky sexual experimentation (with his girlfriend). But even that admission was too "gay" for a trio of his friends, who were deeply, deeply homophobic - and in the end, these morons drove the young man from the chapter, and he ended up utterly disappearing. I often think about him, and hope he found the ability to trust again.
I'm glad that Abram hasn't had to deal with crap like that.
But a comment by Tom on my earlier post is worth repeating here. His partner, Michael, had commented about a coming-out encounter that had gone well, and he'd ended by saying, "Not all stories turn out this way, of course. But it was a great treat for me!"
Tom's comment is insightful:
True enough, but freedom comes when the story turns out the other way -- when the person you come out to rejects you because you are gay -- and life goes on.Tom is, of course, absolutely right - true freedom is in having nothing to lose by others acceptance or rejection. It's a place I haven't quite reached - but the openness of people like Abram Morgan give me faith and hope to keep striving.
That's when the fear that you might be rejected goes away -- you realize that you will be rejected from time to time.
All three reactions -- acceptance, indifference, rejection -- are part of being gay, and all are positive in their own way.
Thanks, Dad Morgan, for sharing your son's journey with us. And than you, Abe, for following an ancient instruction that we share from our common DeMolay background: Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, NIV)