Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where I'm At: Coming Out - Again

I got a shock last Thursday.  My wife called to talk to me about our teenage son.  In the course of the conversation, she told me that she had known for a “couple of weeks” that this son knows “about me”.  She had, however, neglected to tell me this.  Thus, when I had seen my son the last couple of times, he had known, but I hadn’t known he knew. 

I was incredulous – and angry – that my wife would keep something like this from me for two weeks (!).  She said she didn’t know how he knew, which caused me concern (my son later told me that she had told him), plus she didn’t know whether he had told anyone else.  I had no idea what he was thinking, what he thought of me, anything. 

One of the reasons I was angry about this is that I had been in favor of telling this son that his father is gay, but my wife had strongly objected to me doing so.  She wanted to wait a year (!) before telling him.  I didn’t think that would be feasible, but I agreed to hold off saying anything, with the proviso that I didn’t want him to hear about his father from some kid at school.  If I had any inkling that word was starting to get out, I would go ahead and tell him.  Now, not only did my son know, but my wife had kept this information from me for two weeks.

I arranged to pick my son up after work that evening so that I could bring him over to my place, where we could discuss “me” as well as his “behavioral problems.”  That afternoon, I imagined all sorts of things; how he had found out, who he may have told, who else might know by now, what he was thinking about me.

On the drive back to my place, I talked.  He listened.  I went back “to the beginning” – to what I had discovered about myself when I was his age, i.e., that I was attracted to guys, not girls.  I explained how I had hidden this all through junior high, high school and college; how I had never wanted to live a “gay lifestyle” when I was young and how I had seen joining the Church as a way of overcoming my “same-sex attraction.”  I explained that I had thought joining the Church would cure me and how I had realized while on my mission that I would never change. 

I then described how I had struggled with the decision of whether or not to marry his mother, especially since we were so different, and how I had committed myself to my marriage, even though I knew I was “gay.”  I reviewed the ups and downs of our marriage, culminating in the turbulent last few years.  Then, I related what had happened to me after hearing President Packer’s talk at last October conference, how I had decided that I would no longer loathe and despise myself because of my hidden homosexuality, but would, rather, affirm who I am for the first time in my life.

I looked over at my son as I drove, checking for reaction.  His face remained expressionless.  We stopped to pick up a pizza, then drove on to my place.  After sitting down and starting on the pizza, I finally asked him what he thought, whether he had any questions, whether he had a problem with anything I had said.  He looked at me, smiled, and said, “No, I don’t have a problem with it, just so long as you don’t bring a guy around while I’m around.”  I laughed. “No, I won’t be doing that,” I replied, and laughed again.

Whew.  Relief.  One more hurdle jumped, one more bridge crossed.

Later, I had him over, along with my oldest son, and he seemed “fine.”   As I drove the boys home, I found my thoughts turning toward the early years of my marriaage.  Dozens of images from the past flitted through my mind.  Once again, I saw with clarity just how unhappy I had been and how those around me must have been affected by this.  I asked my oldest son whether he had memories of me being happy when he was a child.  Of course, I knew the answer to the question, but I wanted to hear his response. He looked me in the eye for a few moments, then smiled lovingly and said, “Not very many.” Deep sigh.

Once again, I was thankful and glad that I had FINALLY come out.


  1. I admire how you immediately nip it in the butt as they say. You don't hide in wonder when something comes up with what appears to be your wife's involvement in your children's understanding of you: like with your other daughters and now this son, you immediately address the situation. You tell them the truth and leave it up to them to make a decision. That takes a lot of courage to do this because you are exposing yourself without much "prep" time.

    What is even more wonderful, is that you see how they accept you and still love you. They also have the opportunity to create a new relationship with you, with the happy and laid-back, sensitive you. How precious is that?! No wondering about ... had they known... if we had talked ... it's all honest and healthy!

    Congratulations on this big step!

    Mmmm. ... a movie with Liam Neeson? I MUST go see this! ;)

  2. Ugh!! The only relationship in my life that is more torturous than my mother's is probably with my X and I don't even want to explore the Freudian meaning of that...(I've made the decision not to speak ill of her as much as I'm capable of doing so which sometimes it is difficult!!). When it came to the kids I insisted on coming out and she insisted on not doing it to protect them--maybe she felt it gave her an upper hand for when she needed to use it against me, I don't know--but things went much better than I anticipated. I'm glad your kid was able to process things better after you talked to him and sorry that you were put through that.

  3. I wouldn't worry about the "just so long as you don’t bring a guy around while I’m around" indicating some sort of homophobia. Kids typically start from statements they've heard from other people, and develop their own position by expressing them. (Plus -- regardless of orientation -- it's generally better for separated parents not to be introducing the kids to their new boyfriends/girlfriends until the relationship is pretty sure to be permanent).

    And I'm glad it went well too! :D

  4. Man, can I relate with this post. From the recent "revelations" in my family over the last month or so about their father's love of guys and all the emotions that go with such revelation with teenagers... glad you're doing so well.

  5. @Chanson - He seems to be ok with the gay thing. Remarkably ok, in fact. Thanks for your comments.

    @Beck - How are you doing? What's been going on?

  6. Good outcome from a difficult and aggravating situation. Best to you Invictus!

  7. Thanks, Pablo. I am very sorry I wasn't able to meet you when you were in SLC. Next time!

  8. Wonderful post about a difficult situation. You mentioned that your son told you later that your ex-wife had told him that you are gay, even though she apparently said she didn't, but you didn't go into it anymore than that. It must be frustrating to know that, and even more frustrating that she isn't being honest with you. But then divorce isn't easy or simple, regardless of the reasons. And I agree with C.L. Hanson who said not to worry about your son saying that he's fine with your sexual orientation just as long as you don't bring a guy around while he's around, because kids usually repeat what they've heard -- and I'm sure he's heard his mother say this. It's really too bad that some former spouses can't be more supportive, particularly when it comes to children and their perceptions about their parents. I was very careful not to badmouth my daughter's father to her after we divorced, but from what she tells me now, he badmouthed me often to her. That kind of interaction is so counterproductive to a child's happiness. Sounds like in spite of it all, though, that your children are doing very well. Continued good luck to you.