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10 comments | Monday, May 05, 2008

This post is going to be very brief for two reasons. I lost an uncle whom I was extremely close to over the weekend and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around his death, it's a slow and difficult process.

Secondly, I'm hoping that you will provide me with a greater understanding and personal experiences on your coming out process or why you've chosen to remain in the closet in the comments section. I will be addressing this topic as soon as I'm able to write again.

I came across a blog entry by fellow blogger/activist Jasmyne Cannick and a special report by ABC News that both dealt with coming out. Jasmyne's post involved Tatianna, a graduating Senior at The University of South Carolina and the ABC report focused on the potential social and criminal consequences for gays and lesbians who decide to come out in Kenya. Two completely different worlds but both subjects face the same challenges.

One consistent theme is that black gays and lesbians are often afraid of losing their family. What's your story and how did your family react? Or why do you feel it's not necessary to come out?

Read Jasmyne's post: She Came Out And Now She Needs Our Support

Read the ABC News Special Report: Searching For Love Where Being Gay Is A Crime


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Hmm...I always hesitate to tell my "coming out" story because a) there were/are many, and b) it was such a non-event. Mind you, I was older and already independent when all this occurred.

After coming out to myself, the first person I came out to was a young brotha on a job I had about 20 years ago. We had a very close relationship. I forget if he asked or I told him, but he was so amazingly cool about it, it just went by without incident. At one point he even tried to hook me up with someone (as straight folks often like to do with their gay friends.)

Several years later, my mother told me I was gay. Mothers always know, you know. I had been away in NYC for gay pride and she'd been trying to reach me. When I told her where I was, she asked, "Did you go to the parade?" I said, "No, but I went to the rally in Central Park." She told dad, but neither one of them ever gave me a moment of grief over it. They both met two guys I dated at various times and many other of my gay friends, accepting them as simply my circle of friends.

I can understand however the fear of losing connection to family. No one wants to be alone in the world and for many of us, our families are our foundation, the people we depend on for support and who we support as well. In an otherwise hostile world, knowing you can go "home" is important to us.

May 05, 2008 12:29 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I came out to myself the summer after I graduated from high school. The first person I told in my family was my brother, and he took it really well and knows pretty much everything about my personal life.

The following summer I told all my close straight friends. This was a little harder because they had all their stereotypes/negative views about gay/bi guys. Over time (and with a lot of arguing and explaining from me) they've learned to accept it, even though some of them aren't 100% happy about it.

Last summer I told my mother. We talked for a couple of hours about it, and it felt great to finally get it off my chest. I didn't tell her I had boyfriend though, because I didn't think she was ready for that. However I felt like the entire time I was explaining to her how I felt she wasn't REALLY listening to me (in the sense that she heard me, but was listening, if you know what I mean). She thinks that being bi is changeable and with enough prayer I'll become the straight man God intended me to be. It made me sad, but it wasn't a big shock to me that she felt that way, and I've had to take care of myself emotionally for a long time anyway.

As for my dad, I still don't know how I'm gonna pull that one off.

May 05, 2008 3:06 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Hey Darian,

I am sorry about your loss and hope peace comes soon.

I first told a close friend I was gay when I was 19, followed some months later when I told my mom. Each time I came out of the closet, the hardest moment was right after I said the word gay. Hearing that word float in the air, I wanted so badly to snatch it back and remain in the closet. I knew that the person I was telling had all of these concepts in their mind about what "gay" meant, and I was very afraid of being misunderstood. And I was afraid of being rejected, or disowned, or marginalized.

Yes, there can be negative consequences to coming out, as evidenced by the young woman in South Carolina. But that has not been my experience. I went into each situation expecting the worse, and the one thing I have learned is that you can never underestimate people's willingness to learn and grow in order to continue loving you. Few people will be enthusiastic, hardly any may be supportive initially. But when they see you are the same you -- and you are a better you because you're an authentic you -- they will come around and continue loving you.

I came out to friends and family on the South Side of Chicago, and while I was serving a second term as president of a historically black fraternity in Alabama, so these weren't exactly ideal or liberal coming out scenarios. But people can really amaze you when you give them the opportunity to accept you as you are.

Be not afraid.

May 05, 2008 4:00 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Hello Darian

I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your uncle. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Coming out for me was one of the hardest conversations I ever had with my mother and brothers. I was 22 years old at the time when I told my mom. Feeled with so much emotion I told her I was gay, that was the hardest word to get out of my mouth and it was so much relief once i said it. I was crying a sea of tears uncontrollable, that was not my intentions to be crying like that but I could not control it :). But to make a long story short, she told me she already knew and she did cry. My mom told you she loved me unconditionally and that I was her son and she was proud of me. It has brought our relationship even closer; and even with my brothers it was the same response. It helps so much when your family understands you and your lifestyle, but everyone can't share that same story. So I understand and sympathize when people choose not to tell family members or friends about their lifestyle. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringings.

I'm 33 now and have been with my wonderful partner for 3 yrs whom I love very much. We live together in Alabama. And he is apart of my family and they love him the same.

Special K

May 05, 2008 8:28 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Um, coming out is always hard. I'm still kinda out and kinda in the closet. I mean, I don't hide the fact I'm gay - but you've gotta admit, many of our personal societies don't really make this process easy. It's a daily struggle - but it's one I'm overcoming day by day.

May 06, 2008 9:34 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

I don't have much of a coming out story. Around 21, my mother asked me if I were gay and I said "yes." I was really relieved she asked, finally I was free to be myself. It was difficult for my family for a long time, but through the years, although they still don't approve, they no longer bring it up as an issue.

Since that time I've largely surrounded myself with people who know I'm gay from the beginning of the relationship. I'm never one to deny who I am but I am less likely to offer information.

May 06, 2008 10:01 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I have not come out because I believe that it is not anyone's business but mine.

I think things are fine the way they are for now, and I will not let anyone guilt me into doing something that I do not wish to do.

I wish everyone else luck with their choices.

May 06, 2008 10:22 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I'm sorry to hear about your relative.

I don't know whether you call it in the closet or out the closet...I'm just comfortable being myself. I have learned that you will always have haters so I live life.

In my profession, it is hard to be respected if you openly admit you are gay. The image and reputation of the company will be in question. It is a good way to stay in the same position for a long time even though you maybe qualified for a higher one.

I have many friends that are gay but live in the closet because some of them are married. I can just tell my looking at them they are misable. They try to holla at me but...I know what's up and nothing is about to happen. One of them even has son that is gay. I don't want to be a home wrecker.

It seems hard and hard to find honest brothers who are not afraid of being themselves. I believe you like what you like and there is no substitution for it.

May 07, 2008 2:53 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Hmmm, everyone's experiences are unique, but we can pull from ea. other in the same sense.

Coming to terms with my sexuality was and still is a process. The last two years have been very progressive for me though. I grappled with the "am I bi?" thought for quite awhile, but on the 4th of July in '03 [when I was 16]I told my mother. As it was said somewhere above, she heard me, but didn't hear me...playing the "talk to the Rev. / read this book, etc." game to "fix" me.

Fast forward to '06, I started making friends that affirmed who I was and made me proud to be open with my sexuality. '07 was a pivotal year for me. I slowly began telling or confirming to friends that I was gay. Though I believe that it's no one's business as far as one's sexuality, I do think that it's important in opening up more avenues for communication and authenticity. In Oct of last year, my father [who was apparently oblivious, lol] found an Atlanta Urban Life magazine in my car and severe questioning ensued. Over the course of two days I had the most intense/open/real conversation with my father. I was brutally honest and so was he. My mother is accepting and I can say that my father still loves me...while not exactly accepting. He tip toes around the subject and I'm well aware of his homophobia from past experiences. Other family members and friends may assume, but I have yet to confirm it for them.

As far as the question "Am I in or out?" It depends, I have to assess a persons motives or the outcome before that subject surfaces.

..It's a process, that's for sure. I couldn't be happier with my current decisions though.

My thoughts are with you and your family during this time.

-Marcus B. [ATL]

May 07, 2008 11:29 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, I'll keep you and your uncle in my prayers.

October 13, 2010 11:33 PM


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