Dramatic or significant "coming out" stories...(Part )

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    Sep 22, 2007 3:54 AM GMT
    Part 1:

    I had wanted to start this thread months ago. I have two stories that I hope are interesting, one involving my coming out inadvertently to about 150 of my colleagues, and the other, despite being out to everyone else in the world of importance in my life, I had not come out to my 90 y.o. mom, until last November.

    I’ll tell the first story now. It’s long, and I'll divide into parts. But I challenge anyone here to come up with a “coming out” that is as dramatic.

    I’m a severe storm researcher, and I am an active collaborator with many colleagues in the Great Plains. As part of that, I am a member of a then (in 2000) email listserve, and now a bulletin board similar to Real Jock, devoted to discussion of tornadic storms. There are over 150 members on that listserve, including the meteorologists in charge of several forecast offices, and the directors of several national laboratories.

    It’s by invitation only.

    As part of my getting stature in the severe storms research community, I was invited to be visiting scientist at a government research facility in Norman, Oklahoma for my sabbatical. I was also getting to be friends with one of the seminal researchers in tornadoes, but who also often told off-color, and homophobic jokes.

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    Sep 22, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    Part 2:

    At that same research facility were three meteorologists who I knew to be gay. So my plan was to combine the week or so I would be out there with talking to my friend about his jokes, and telling him I was gay, as well as having lunch or dinner with my colleagues who were gay, and didn’t know that I was. I was essentially going to come out to them.

    Hold on, I am getting to the point here, but you still need more context. I also have a friend on the East Coast who is the Chief of Staff of Psychiatry at a major hospital out there. I had emailed him that I was going to Norman, and had planned to come out to my friend and other colleagues. This was just after Matthew Shepherd had been killed...and my friend emailed me back that I should be careful about coming out in the midst of Oklahoma and bible-belt, gun toting, rednecks.

    Anyway, I did go out, and everything went well. As a matter of fact, my friend disclosed that he often told off-color jokes that were an equal opportunity offender, and he hadn’t intended them to appear targeted to anyone group. Guess what. He not only quit telling such jokes, he and his wife have volunteered for AIDS support groups etc.

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    Sep 22, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    Part 3:

    So, I get back to Oakland at nearly midnight. I email my psychiatrist friend on the East Coast with a subject heading “Norman, Oklahoma”...and then the body of the email went on to disclose that I had come out to my colleagues and my friend (and said something uncomplimentary about his appearance), and included a reference to an internet ad that I had answered for a date out this way, that had a picture attached (thank God it was not x-rated), but included the fact that this guy was into spanking and oral sex and you get the idea.

    I also mentioned the guys that I went to lunch with who were gay, by first name.

    I pressed “Send” and went to bed.

    In the morning, I check my email and find that the email I had sent to my friend was in my inbox. I couldn’t figure out how that could be, at first. Then I noticed that there were three emails from my colleagues in Oklahoma, and I felt the cold grip of panic begin to grip my body.
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    Sep 22, 2007 3:57 AM GMT
    Part 4:


    You see, my psychiatrist friend’s email handle is one letter of the alphabet removed from the email handle of my severe weather discussion listserve. What I had done is inadvertently send that email, complete with picture of a hunky guy in running shorts (thankfully), soft porn language and uncomplimentary physical description of my colleague to 150 people on that ListServe.

    What’s more ironic....they would have all got it when they got up Sunday morning, before they went to Church.

    The next email was from my friend, who wrote “John, please tell me that you didn’t send this email to the XXXXX ListServer.” But of course I had.

    The next thing that happened is that he called me. He asked me if I was alright, realizing I had to be in shock. In fact, I thought my career was over. I was on sabbatical leave, and my leave had been paid for by my university. And here I am sending a nearly pornographic email to my sponsors in the Great Plains. And, included insulting language to the very person I was collaborating with on research.

    And here’s the kind of guy he is. He told me that my uncomplimentary remarks were true. And he also told me that I had included complimentary remarks as well, and that he was proud to be my friend (yes, hard to figure) given the shit I had to take from him over the years. He told me that the first thing I had to do was to contact the guys that I had outed inadvertently.

    I also had to send an email to the Listserve, which had gone dead silent, right in the middle of severe storm season.

    Long story short. I received 70 emails from people on that ListServe and not one of them were nasty. Yes, I got the skjpm type of “you’re a sinner, but we love you” kind of thing, but I also got interesting ones like “...I abhor gay people, but you are my friend. That’s a dichotomy I can’t resolve. So I choose to hold onto you as my friend...” (That’s a direct quote).

    The three people I outed, it turns out, thankfully, didn’t give a shit. They all felt it was high time that they didn’t have to deal with it and one had already come out to a number of people out there.

    People often say that there’s a reason for everything. At that time, I thought that this was the worst thing that had ever happened to me...I thought my career was done. In fact, what this did was make more people aware of gay people in my profession, and to make more people aware that a person’s sexual preference is independent from whether they are a nice person or not.

    As a postscript, my colleague and his wife are now closer friends than ever. They actually came out to the Bay Area from Norman to be at my Halloween Party last year. It all worked out.

    But, what drama.

    Love to hear other dramatic "coming out" stories.

    John
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    Sep 22, 2007 4:45 AM GMT
    I can't top your story for drama, but mine had an entirely different context, which might make for an interesting contrast.
    In 1986, I arrived at a liberal East Coast college, and struggled with thinking I might be gay while on the crew team. I didn't know what I was doing, and I decided to quit the team while trying to figure it out.
    A year later, I had a pretty good idea, but I was barely out to myself, let alone anyone else.
    Well, a friend invited me down to the March on Washington, and so I went.
    What an eye-opener. My first gay kiss, my first gay caress, in the midst of several hundred thousand gay & lesbian people marching on Washington. The entire city seemed gay.
    After three days of bliss, the harsh realization hit me when we stopped for fast food on the way home, and it occurred to me that, in fact, the whole world hadn't gone gay, and I would have to figure out some way to re-enter society.
    It was a sudden, confusing, but joyful introduction to gay life, and after that, coming out was just second nature. I told everyone, because I didn't want to deal with anyone thinking I might be straight.

    Now, here's the ironic twist. My freshman crew coach found me on his last day of work, and thanked me for my activist work during the previous years. We hadn't spoken at all in the intervening years. I was blown away when he came out to me, in a closeted kind of way.
    I really wish I'd been able to keep my cool and stay on the team, I loved rowing. I just thought it was wrong to love the rowers. How wrong I was!
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    Sep 22, 2007 12:21 PM GMT
    That is a profound story, I read it twice for the rush of it. Something about exponential embarrassment gets me.

    The only thing I have is that I tend not to be out in all work situations. In addition to lots of other things I do, I am an educational consultant and teach teachers to teach. I also make videos of teachers who are doing a great job and post them on the internet so that other teachers can get ideas from them.

    If you see my profile, I also make funny videos for my own amusement or as gifts to those I care about. I made a couple videos for a guy I dated, one instead of sending flowers after an awesome date, and one later in the relationship to make fun of our differences. I also made a video of my tattoo, animated as it crawls up my naked body in bed, turning me all black. But there is nothing pornographic about any of them, just some do "suggest."

    A teacher at a school I have visited and worked with for a few years in Tulsa, Oklahoma, emailed me once about a video I had made of her and put on the web. The whole school had seen it and the link was sent out by the principal to the district at large.

    Apparently, the video link would play the video I had made of her teaching and then afterwards offer you the option of viewing the rest of my ouvre. She emailed to ask if I had intended everyone in Tulsa to see a video of me coming on to my boyfriend.

    I use Google Video and my personal videos are supposed to be private and the educational ones are public.

    I don't mind people knowing my sexuality, I just keep it to myself unless asked, especially in certain school districts, as I do not want to create problems. Working with a group of teachers in another, also Bible Belted, part of the States I was asked to leave a school cause they merely suspected I was gay.

    Oddly I have had elementary students ask me if I am gay when visiting classrooms to observe teachers and I have always answered honestly. They are unfailingly cool about it.
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    Sep 22, 2007 2:53 PM GMT
    Thanks, guys. Well, you know, it had its humorous aspects too.

    One of the directors of the field program that portions of the movie "Twister" was based upon phoned me to see if I was OK that morning. By that time, I had gotten a cup of coffee, had time to think, also sent an email to the same ListServe apologizing for the post, and tell them I obviously had come out to them, but not intentionally, since it was inappropriate in that forum. And then went on to discuss some severe thunderstorms expected to hit Oklahoma that day.

    Anyway, he phoned to assure me that I was still on the project. Once I assured him I was OK, he said something like "Good. Now I can tell you that when I opened that email, I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen and read. Because I imagined all the born again religious people on the group, opening that up on Sunday morning before they went to Church. Imagine how their Church breakfasts went down that morning..."
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    Sep 22, 2007 3:21 PM GMT
    I was very late in discovering that I was gay.

    In 1992 I left the Army to go back to college full time. Rather than go back to GA, I chose to try to start a life somewhere new where I had never lived. One trip to Boston years before to see the Tall Ships had intrigued me with that city, and so that was where I chose to go: somewhere where I was absolutely sure I would not know anyone while I tried to figure out what was going on in my head.

    In Boston I found a thriving gay community just getting over the shock of AIDS; plenty of bars where I could continue to anesthetize myself; the Bridge Program where I could do volunteer work helping young runaways, some of whom were much more in touch with their sexuality than I was; and enough college work to keep me busy for two years. Here I also had a string of sexual experiences as I struggled to fit in to what I thought was ‘gay culture’.

    So who is one of the first people I run into - a friend I used to play football with before they kicked my ass out of college the first time.

    Eventually I met, thought I fell in love with, and moved in with my first long term mate. It didn’t last more than a few months, but we stayed friends and roommates for another two years. It was primarily due to his influence that I started coming out to a few people I knew well.

    I had been hanging out with my old football friend (we started back up where we had left off—as workout buddies); we would frequently go to his place afterward to watch videos and have a beer, or before going out for the evening to some local college bars. He would sometimes suggest meeting at my place since I lived somewhat closer to campus; I would inevitably make some stupid excuse not to.

    One night several months later, over a beer at one of the bars, I managed to tell him my deep and shameful secret, the reason I couldn’t invite him over to my place. I came Out and was waiting for him to really slam me, figuring I might have just lost a good friend. My workout buddy paused a moment, took another sip of his beer, then told me that it was a damn shame, since he had really been hoping to get introduced to my roommate. He had seen him from a distance and thought he was really hot.
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    Sep 24, 2007 2:43 AM GMT
    Wow, so here goes mine:

    The scene is tenth grade, where I had been good friends with a girl in school for nearly seven years. She and I were always together, and it tended to make her boyfriends very jealous. I could never understand until a few years later how I threatened them without saying/doing anything. Anyways...

    I knew this female friend of mine to have a very strange (very negative) relationship with her family members. They lied, fought, cheated, cussed each other out and did a lot of drugs individually. Because of this, she often did things from time to time for the sole purpose of getting her family's attention. This being said, the actual story...

    Her new boyfriend and she had just about as negative a relationship as between her and her family. They were very destructive...I told her as much one night after gearing up and trying to figure out whether it was my place to stick my nose in it or not. Turns out, it wasn't. So this friend decided to be very angry at my opinion, and took it very seriously. She organized it ith her new boyfriend to corner me after school one day, and start a fight. She led me a certain way, made sure I wouldn't look in the direction he was coming from, the whole shebang...

    The new boyfriend as it turns out, had heard that I spent two years in a youth bootcamp-type school, and did not feel like he could win coming out to fight me in a fair face to face manner. Instead, he snuck up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with brass knuckles on. It hurt, I went to the hospital, had 10 staples put in to close the wound.

    Now starts the coming out part...the doctor that came in to stitch me up was very flamboyant. My mother, not knowing what to think at this point was wondering why the hell this guy hit me...her mind was racing, and she connected the fact that I didn't have many girlfriends, didn't talk about attractive girls, etc....and started making accusations about me being gay. I was still in shock at this point, and didn't say anything. The doctor, however, sensing a fellow friend in need, asked her to not bludgeon me with such stress while I was concussed.

    Over the next few days I was very emotional, a little shaken up, and confused about why my friend would do something like that to me. When my mother came in and asked me about being gay again, I finally lost my ability to keep the secret and told her. I said I was, and she started crying. Coming from a very conservative family, being as young as I was...I didn't know how to balance what people think about my sexuality with what I should think. I got very depressed, secluded myself for a while, and didn't talk about it for the next two years of high school. I literally "don't ask, don't telled" myself into a state of nothingness with my family.

    Finally, at 17 I left for school and came up to the Pacific Northwest. One thing led to another, and being away from my family gave me the opportunity to explore my sexuality in a safe, and (at least in my eyes) less controversial place. I came out to friends and fraternity brothers, and finally took the large step in coming out to my mother (again!) during my freshman year. Basically, I acknowledged it, tried to explain to her that it's not as bad as she thinks, and tried to mend the relationship between the two of us to the point of complete honesty.

    Anyways....yeah, that's my story. Mom and I are relatively fine now, life's alright. Coming out was definitely dramatic though. There were a lot of dramatic stopping points between the tenth grade incident and the freshman year in college confrontation. But, I think it was worth it in the end, because you don't truly learn from something unless it hits you a little harder than everyday experiences.
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    Sep 24, 2007 3:29 AM GMT
    Those are nice stories guys. I love watching those coming out short stories like they show in out film festivals.
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    Sep 24, 2007 4:37 AM GMT
    cmon...what a story. By the way, while I am happy you have mended things with your mom, it seems to me that she is the one that should have mended things with you. I think assailing you with her own homophobia while you were in the ER indicates her own lack of balance. Geez.
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    Sep 24, 2007 5:52 AM GMT
    So having been open about my sexuality to everyone but my parents, I actually considered it the final frontier in the coming out process. With all the horror stories and the brave brave guy out there who had to deal with some not so understanding family members I felt I was extremely lucky my sister accepted it, but my parents were another story. My dad is Roman Catholic from Guatemala. For my Grandmothers 70th birthday the entire cit of Quetzaltenango came to the Church to celebrate. You can imagine the conservative religious environment he was raised in. On top of that he is the only son, and I'm his only son, so I sort of carrying the name, so I had no idea how he would take it.
    My mother some times had mention gay people in a not so nice way. Violin is her passion so whenever she sees an orchestra on TV all she does is watch the violinists. For example while watching a tape of a concert she saw a guy with an earing I said something along the lines of "so what do you think his playing" and said something along the lines of "whatever, he's gay" and made a face. So I wasn't sure how they would take it.
    Now heres the fun part. I was coming home from a night at the Abbey, Micky's, and Rave. All I remember from the night was the strippers and some hot bar tenders. My dad had been nice enough to let me borrow his Benz for the night and I had been dumb enough to drive home drunk. I parked my car close to home and got a ride on the way there since I live a ways from the city and I was going with a friend. Instead of making the turn into my neighborhood, I decided I was gunna drive a bit. Not two seconds after I crash into the fence of one of the horseranches near my house. A piece of the giant horsegrade fencing busted through the windshield and went straight through to the back door diagonal from the drivers seat missing my head by about a few inches and busted out the door. Another piece busted through the grill.
    The Benz was no longer a Benz. It was wrecked. Somehow it chugged along going no more than 15 miles per hour. I drove up to the gate to get into my neighborhood and the security guards jaw dropped. And being mildly drunk still I actually though he was kind of cute before tumbling back to reality. I drove home and the first thing I did was call the Assistant Attorney General I had interned with (who happened to be gay) lets call him Adam. Having gotten proper legal advice, all I could think of which could soften the blow was to come out to me dad. I asked Adam what to do. He told me he couldn't consult me on that. We had been good friends and he was like my mentor and for some reason the fact he could give me such detailed legal advice and not help me at all with the most important personal question hurt. During my internship I had managed to have a huge crush on him and looked up to him. I moved past that and took his advice on how to handle the situation. So I decided it was now or never. So I creeped into my parents room to wake my dad at 4:30 in the morning. He woke up and as any good parent would know being woken up at 4:30 in the morning by your son is rarely a good thing. He expected the worst. So I looked him in the eyes and told him. "I need to tell you something...I'm gay" He looked blank and said "ok" and then I looked him in the eyes again and said "I crashed your car" again the blank stare and he said "ok"....
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    Sep 24, 2007 6:07 AM GMT
    So we took care of the fence and left a note with insurance and info etc. and we came home only to find out the police had arrived. The cute security guard had decided to call the real cops. Fanfuckingtastic. But having called Adam, I answered the questions just so to prevent any future problems. However, the police decided to arrest me anyway. I spent the rest of the morning and the rest of the day in a jail cell sitting next to a pair of skinhead heroine addicts and a guy who forgot to turn in his permits for his printing company. Along the way met a boxer who beat up his wife, and some other great people. When I got out, all I could remember was I came out to my dad, does my mom know? OMG I crashed their car! I went to JAIL! I'm a nice college kid and I went to JAIL!

    We sat down and had a good family talk about everything. My parents and I never really talked and we had one of our very first real conversations. People cried, I heard things about them I never knew or could have guessed. It turns out they had no clue and they were completely ok with it.

    My sister is getting engaged soon and brought her boyfriend and his parents to meet our parents. They made a huge deal including front and center box seats at the hollywood bowl and some very nice dining along with having the other parents stay at the four seasons. They told me "when your special guest comes, you'll have the same so don't get jelous that your sister is getting all this special treatment" Thats when I really knew they were cool with it. Somehow a terrible experience had managed to bring us closer together and I learned their love truely was unconditional.
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    Sep 24, 2007 6:12 AM GMT
    PS all charges were dropped. :)
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    Sep 24, 2007 6:35 AM GMT
    sorry about some of the grammatical errors in the story. Its late.
  • GQjock

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    Sep 24, 2007 10:58 AM GMT
    I was pretty much closeted when I was in college
    and for a few years after...
    I was dating a woman and bought into the well its a phase thing and that I'd get over it
    Things progressed and I became engaged to be married
    I put things out of my mind but as the wedding day began to get closer I started realizing what I was about to do
    I knew that this wasn't phase any longer and that if I went through with it I'd wind up devastating two lives
    so I broke it off
    needless to say my fiance was upset as well as my parents
    I didn't tell my fiance the reason--I was too chicken for that at the time but I told my parents
    they wanted me to see a psychiatrist ... I thought that was funny
    but they came around and now they're kool with it
    my Ex-fiance now is happily married with a couple of kids
    so it all worked for the best - at least from my point of view
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    Sep 30, 2007 4:22 PM GMT
    Thanks GQ and Owl...

    Owl, that was quite a dramatic way of coming out. Curious if your sister ever adjusted.

    I started this with a very dramatic example of coming out. I'll end it with my own story of coming out to my mom....the last person of significance in my life who "did not know." And this just happened last November.

    All through my young-adulthood I realized that my parents did not like gay people. They constantly made disparaging remarks about gays...and I knew to lay low around Gay Pride, because that's when gay is splashed all over the San Francisco papers, stimulating comments from my parents, particularly my father. But he passed away in 1994.

    Meanwhile, my mom, who is very intelligent, exceeded any estimate of self-delusion by always telling her girlfriends that "I had not found the right woman"...into my 40s and then 50s. On the other hand, she knew I had close male friends, and never wondered about them, except to say that she thought it was time for me to find a close woman friend (though I had those...she meant romantic woman friends).

    Even when I had my boyfriend Phil, a long distance relationship, here...and we would take my mom to dinner, it never occurred to her that he was anything but a friend.

    About 4 years ago I met this stunning, wonderful guy at the gym and we became friends. Then close friends, and we've waffled around becoming boyfriends. But, at the least, we are snuggling friends...and he has become very interactive in my life. Including helping to organize a family birthday party for me, and coming to family dinners.

    In organizing the birthday party, my mom asked if my friend Tim would be bringing a date. I told her that if he did, he'd be bringing a guy. She said "...oh, you know how I would feel about that!..." sarcastically. That was a year ago this past April.

    So, just after Thanksgiving last year, I tell my mom that I was taking Tim out for his birthday, and she tells me that she didn't "like" the people I was hanging around with (can you believe that...as if I am a teenager...but, remember, this is an Italian family...very enmeshed). So I respond, why do you say that? And she responds "...because he's not the right sort, he's gay..." Well, I have a temper too...and responded ...."well, then I am not the right sort either, since I am gay..."

    Actually, it was pretty funny. First she told me not to joke. Then, when she realized that I was serious, she told me that now she has to worry about "disease" (meaning, of course, AIDS). And, blah, blah, blah.

    But, guess what, by the end of the conversation she said "...I still wish you'd meet a nice woman..." and I responded "...what about the first part of this conversation did you miss? That's never going to occur..." And...she said...."oh, alright then..." And that was that.

    Yes, there was a bit more drama occasionally, but now she's comfortable with Tim being around. And whether it's Tim or someone else I may end up with, at least I know my 92 y.o. mom will not be an issue.

    John