...and what does paying that price get you?
The chance to be as happy and fulfilled as the average straight person.
I call that a "Gambler's Nightmare." You risk everything and, at best, you might break even.
When I first admitted to myself that I was gay, I remember my thoughts exactly. I was 13. I'd reached a breaking point after quietly suffering through many months of intense self-loathing. I'd become a hollowed-out basket case who couldn't do anything, especially look in a mirror.
One day after school, when I was alone with my thoughts for far too long, I collapsed into a sobbing mess on the floor. I couldn't stop crying. Finally, after about two hours, I realized what the solution was... I could declare a truce. I could admit who I was, and stop beating myself up about it, but that's as far as I needed to go. Because the truth of my sexuality was only known to me, it was MY secret to keep. I could indulge myself with unlimited, unrestrained gay thoughts but no one would ever know what I was thinking unless I told them. My destiny, therefore, was entirely in my own hands. As long as I kept the secret, I'd never have to pay a price for it.
Well, the secret has been out now (sort of) for a number of years -
- I've been out to my former wife for five years.
- I've been out to my kids for nearly four.
- I've also been dating men for four years.
- I've held hands with and kissed men in public.
- I've gone to a public function as part of a gay couple.
- I've double-dated with a straight couple as part of a gay couple.
That's it. That's the complete list of how far my gay self has been integrated into my straight life.
Some people might be impressed that I'm out to my former wife and kids. Yes, I suppose that is an accomplishment --- but I'm as minimally out to them as I could be. I don't talk about my gay life with any of them. In five years, my former wife has asked me twice if I'm seeing anyone. I wasn't at either time so I said no. On one occasion I added, "I've had a few first dates but nothing worth mentioning. Nice people, decent conversations, that's it."
Only one of my three kids has ever asked about my dating life. When she was 14, my daughter told me I "needed to get laid." My response was to give her a disapproving look. Although I was secretly flattered by her concern, I had no interest in talking to her about my sex life.
Really, the ONLY substantive way I'm out to Gabbie, my kids and Gabbie's mother is that they all know I attend two weekly meetings with "guys like me." If I didn't keep those two weeknights permanently booked, they could all claim they'd forgotten I was gay.
Clearly, I want to hold on to straight privilege for as long as possible.
Because I'm not much different at 49 than I was at 13. I'm perfectly happy to have unlimited gay thoughts AND keep my straight life. Living this way is easy. It's also what I know.
When I think of changing, I dread what I've always dreaded - the scrutiny of others.
By "scrutiny" I don't mean judgement. That I don't mind so much. Getting called a faggot by a stranger on the street doesn't really bother me. Getting disowned by my parents or other family members doesn't concern me. I don't fear getting assaulted, nor do I worry about losing my job. None of the potentially horrible things that most closeted people fear don't weigh on me. Should any of them happen, I'm totally confident I will survive, recover and thrive.
What I dislike is the drip-drip-drip of being constantly scrutinized. To feel like I'm being watched and talked about. To be the subject of gossip whenever my back in turned. There's a certain insidiousness about scrutiny that I find hard to handle. If I was an animal in a zoo, I'd rather by totally alone than on display being gawked at all day. Perhaps this is how the typical closeted person feels. I don't know.
I sometimes wonder if my sexuality is the root cause of my dislike of the spotlight My daughter loves to talk about how great it would be to be famous. No thank you! To be followed everywhere, written about, harassed and forced to put on a happy face every time I step outside? What a hellish nightmare. I'll take anonymous mediocrity any day.
Anyway... the reason I'm writing about this now is because things are going nicely with the Architect. It's still too early to be certain yet, but a Day of Reckoning looks to be on the horizon. For the sake of everyone involved, myself included, I feel like I'll need to cross a threshold before the end of summer; I'll need to start telling more people what I've been doing with my life.
Although I will continue to cling to every bit of straight privilege while I can, I'm in the mental process of psyching myself up for a life of scrutiny. Fortunately I've learned that fear is something you punch in the face, not run away from.
|Me at 13. I'm in the blue shirt :-)|