I am taking golf lessons

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    Jun 12, 2007 4:30 AM GMT
    My fitness goals include trying new activities that will get me out and about, so to speak. I'm going to take golf lessons. Here is the reason I'm mentioning this at Realjock: I have always been afraid of doing things I consider "straight." I've always felt awkward and out of place. I assume that many gay men experience a sense of awkwardness when interacting with mostly straight men.

    It is a new thing for me to hang out with straight guys and try not to pretend I am straight myself. When I take golf lessons, and when I start playing golf with other guys, I'm not going to pretend I'm straight. I'm not going to lie and I'm not going to change pronouns.

    Because this is a fitness site for gay men, I would assume that part of gay fitness is being gay in a straight-dominated world. I wonder if anyone else has ever been nervous about playing sports with straights as an openly gay man. Can you hang out with golf buddies and be yourself? People have asked why I'm at Realjock, and this is why--I think that gays have a unique experience in fitness and sports which only other gays can understand.

    Maybe I'm wrong. But I think that a common denominator of the gay experience is the fear of doing something "straight" like golf and being discovered and ostrasized. Maybe I'm the only gay man who's ever had that fear. But if I'm not, then I would think that this site would be a good place to discuss gays playing sports with straights and how to overcome the fears.
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    Jun 12, 2007 9:46 AM GMT
    Ah Golf! What can I say, I`m terrible at it, and I refuse to practice anymore, my clubs are for sale.

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    Jun 12, 2007 2:21 PM GMT
    I love golf and aside from the 'playing a straight sport as a gay man' question, my greatest advice to you is DON'T KEEP SCORE! You'll have much more fun that way.

    Now that that's out of the way, I've never had any problems. I'm not a nelly princess on the course so I'm not creating an awkward situation. But I've also been around straight athletes a lot (crew in college, for example) so I guess I 'fit in' and the orientation thing is just a side issue. No more weird than say, being a science fiction fan.

    And all that said, golf is a great equalizer. It humbles EVERYONE. And, because it requires more skill than brute strength, there aren't a lot of 'my balls are bigger than yours' contests.

    Good luck and have fun!
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    Jun 12, 2007 3:04 PM GMT
    I agree--what little experience I've had with golf so far suggests it's good for the not-terribly-athletic! :) I want to be more active, and I think this will help.

    I'm always surprised when gay men say they haven't had any problems interacting with straight men. I've always been terrified of being in situations where I might be "discovered," so I've always avoided them. When I had to interact with straight men, I always pretended to be straight.

    Playing a sport without trying disguise myself is a huge step. I wonder what that's like for other gay men.
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    Jun 12, 2007 4:56 PM GMT
    ^Skjpm to be honest with you it was my straight buddies that dragged me onto the golf course. Why would you worry about what a straight person thinks of your sexual orientation? I don`t mind if they are straight, so why should they mind if I`m gay? And if they have a problem with it they can move on.....
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    Jun 12, 2007 5:12 PM GMT
    sk......first off........golf is a great game!

    I'm not sure why this is an issue. You're going to play golf.....what does that have to do with the fact that you're gay (maybe I'm missing the point of your question) Golf isn't a straight/gay game.......it's golf (ok, unless you're in the LPGA)

    From reading some of your other posts you seem very concerned with the "us" and "them" aspect of life. In my humble opinion that's no way to live. Live every day as if it were your last!
    You're gay.......so what. Life is far too short to be looking over your shoulder on a daily basis worrying about what others think.

    Now......if u'r planning on dressing like Michelle Wei when you're golfing.......that's a whole different issue! :)
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    Jun 12, 2007 5:30 PM GMT
    Well, if you're still coming out or still working things out, I can see how this might be tough.

    My perspective is based on being out since I was 15, being totally accepted, and never looking back. The one time I had to contend with any homophobia in college, I had a bunch of rowers (6'4" 240# most of them) ready to kill the guy.

    So while I haven't experienced your situation, I can see how NOT having the good fortune I have had would definitely alter my comfort level.
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    Jun 12, 2007 9:40 PM GMT
    I worry about what others think because I'm afraid of being beaten up. I think that violence against gays is a real possibility. It surprises me that other gays aren't afraid of it.

    I think Jack and Ennis would have been terrified to go golfing with their male friends.

    At a college where I once taught, Chadron State in Nebraska, they recently found the body of a man who'd been missing for months. He was reputed to be gay, and was presumably murdered as a hate crime. I remember being absolutely terrified when I was teaching there, which was why I quit.

    However, I think I should probably worry less than I do.
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    Jun 12, 2007 9:55 PM GMT
    worry less. you will be carrying a big club.

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    Jun 12, 2007 11:49 PM GMT
    Is my fear of violence against gays simply unfounded? Hasn't anyone else ever avoided doing something because they were afraid some straight guy might find out they were gay? If there is no retaliation against gays in sports, then why are there so few out professional athletes? Are we all worried about something that doesn't exist?

    I appreciate the support here. I think sometimes though that the desire to maintain a sunny disposition clouds the reality of what it means to be gay and the fear of people knowing you're gay. If you weren't afraid of what people would do to you, why didn't you come out on your first day of puberty?
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    Jun 13, 2007 9:36 AM GMT
    No, its not unfounded. However, it really depends on the company you keep and your environment. I doubt anyone will beat you up on the golf course nor will they beat me up at college. I didn't come out when I first new cause there was a stigma and I didn't want to lose my friends. A lot of those same people I grew up with know now and are completely cool with it. At that age conformity is a big deal. I'm sure that conformity is also a big deal when it come to being on a team or having to fit a certain mold and expectation of your life that come with life as a professional athelete. Also it could affect the way the team or sponsor is veiwed. Sort of like why anderson cooper was put back in the closet by CNN in regard to the company's image. Many right wing groups put pressure on companies to pull sponsorship when they advertise on "gay friendly" tv shows like what happened with Verizon on Southpark. As far as golf goes, congradulations on picking up a fine sport!
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    Jun 13, 2007 10:54 AM GMT
    SKJPM -

    The gay professional athletes you mention fear loss of money and mass marketing/popularity more than anything.

    Your 'fear' for personal safety on the greens is laughable. That is, presuming you are going there TO GOLF. You're certainly are not new to being in straight company.

    Tee off already.

    PM8
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    Jun 13, 2007 3:43 PM GMT
    I would say just be yourself. I love to golf, but am always nervous about playing with guys I don't know well. Otherwise my teammates are family or close friends and I refuse to keep score. I'm there to have fun and play a non-competitive sport.
  • atxclimber

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    Jun 13, 2007 4:22 PM GMT
    Skjpm: The reason I didn't come out my first day of puberty was that I was in deep denial for years and believed I was straight. That said, even when I realized, I didn't come out because I dreaded causing others discomfort and furthermore self-acceptance is a slow, gradual process (at least, for me) so I couldn't dive head-first into a massive lifestyle change.

    At the same time, I'm terrified of plenty of things I rationally know to be entirely safe. Like cliff-jumping off 20-foot cliffs into deep water. I know I'm not going to get hurt, and I know I enjoy the rush, but it scares the hell out of me.

    So I try to make myself do it anyway as an exercise in overcoming irrational fear.

    I say, go golf! Overcome those fears! They're not rational; gays don't get beat up on golf courses, I don't think, or anyway not terribly often.

    ... then when you're comfortable there, just to push those comfort zones, wear a giant rainbow-striped t-shirt to the course. ;)

    That said, for all my irrational fears, I almost never fear violence against me. Being 6'4" and in good shape, I think people leave me mostly alone. I was encouraging a petite, attractive, female friend to move into an apartment in SF's mission district and she just looked at me like I had two heads and said, "If I lived on that block, I'd be mugged, raped, or dead within the week." And I had to admit she was probably right. I sometimes lack perspective. :)
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    Jun 14, 2007 5:36 AM GMT
    I do think that getting out there and doing things helps overcome the fear. I doubt if any of the people I would go golfing would care, since, if they don't know I'm gay already, they've probably done the math and strongly suspect it. Thanks for the support.
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    Jun 14, 2007 5:58 AM GMT
    skjpm, I appreciate where you're coming from in your original question. While I don't really fear of bodily harm, I've certainly always fear rejection or, worse, "tolerance."

    I was in the closet through high school (boarding school...terrifying!) and college. I came out half-heartedly to a few friends in college, but I didn't fully acknowledge my sexuality until I was in my mid 20s. Of course, I always knew I was gay. I guess I figured if I ignored it long enough it would go away. That didn't happen and, eventually, ultimately, I had to deal.

    So my mid 20s to early 30s were spent mostly in Los Angeles as an out gay guy. Whereas my high school and college friends had been straight, I was now surrounded by mostly gay friends. Before I came out, my friendships with straight guys were dishonest and lacked any real closeness. They were superficial - out of fear. Then come the gay years where I didn't really have straight friends at all.

    Now I'm in a small town in the mountains and all of my male friends are straight - and it's awesome. For the first time in my life, I feel really comfortable with myself. I went to LA hoping to find acceptance. And, while I did find it, I discovered that the lifestyle and community were not for me. Moving here was a risk, but I had finally reached a point where I had to do the things that mattered to me - without any care for what someone might think of my sexuality.

    Now I go skiing with the guys, backpacking, rock climbing, spend afternoons on the lake, whatever. My straight buddies come over and we cook dinner and nerd out on Battlestar Galactica. And these guys aren't necessarily the kind of people you'd assume to be the most tolerant, especially in a small town: construction workers, firefighters, etc. Yet they don't care.

    Be yourself. Times have changed - a lot. Yes, there is violence towards gay men, but no one is going to kick your ass on the green. I imagine you probably fear rejection more than bodily harm, and that's understandable. Still, if you don't put yourself out there, the fear wins.

    Hiking 10,000+ peaks every week and skiing fresh pow all winter long was always what I wanted to do, not run around the city, get drinks with the boys, and check out the latest fashions at Barneys. Still, I didn't think I'd be accepted here, so I didn't try. Until finally I couldn't take it any longer. You will meet great people if you put yourself out there, including straight buddies who will accept you without judgment.

    Enjoy the golf lessons!
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    Jun 17, 2007 6:01 PM GMT
    I really like your post. I think my friendships are headed in that direction, in that my friends are all straight men who accept me as I am. It's hard to find acceptance in the gay world because of my faith and values--it's easier to find straights who accept me for being gay than to find gays who accept me for being Christian. My straight friends support my search for a lifelong/sexually exclusive relationship since they all share that ideal (however poorly they may live up to it)--the gays I have known think that ideal is ridiculous.

    I've noticed that in order to guy friends, you really need to be doing something together, so I'm going to learn to play golf so we can hang out together. It's a fitness and personal goal--and I'm looking forward to it.