Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Letter to a Young Gay Man

(Written in 2007)


Hi. Your mom and I met four or five years ago when we were both in "Attila" at the Lyric Opera. I remember meeting you briefly as well. Time flies and according to your mom, you have grown into a fine young man (do I remember 17 years old?) She also shared with me your "coming out" as a gay man.

I probably have been gay all my life, but didn't really understand it until I was in my late teens or early 20's. Times were different for my coming out. Gay was not talked about, people didn't admit it freely, people acted on it secretly and with fear and guilt, double lives were lived, both men and women got married to an opposite sex member (who may or may not have understood the situation,) and had children. 

I taught for 30 years and for most of that time had to remain "in the closet" or face loosing my job. When we went to a gay bar to dance, even though of age, we faced getting raided, so the unspoken word was that if police raided the bar and you were on the dance floor, you would grab the nearest "dyke" and vice versa. Often gays, if too obvious, were beaten up on the street (still happens I guess but maybe not as frequently)

My mom had a terrible time dealing with my being gay. She discovered this about me when she uncovered a "love letter" that was tucked into one of my old college books that was sitting on the shelf at home. She called me at college on the phone and told me to come home soon because she wanted to talk to me. I knew what she wanted but didn't want to face her. I finally did go home and we "had it out." Many tears. If she hadn't discovered the letter, I do not know when I would have had the courage to come out to her.

She talked to the family doctor and he recommended that she take me to a psychiatrist to get me "cured." I refused. We argued a lot. She still loved me but couldn't deal with my being gay and I was already on my own and at college. She went to a psychiatrist herself and the message (which was probably unusual for that time and place) was to leave me alone if I was happy with my choice (in those days it was felt to be a choice rather than something you were born with. Who knows?)

Joseph, you are lucky to have such an understanding mom, who loves you, and who accepts you for who you are. You are still young enough that she will have the "final say" in many situations and you should respect that. To this day many families kick their gay son or daughter out of the house and disown them. 

My dad didn't know about me until much later but interestingly enough, he just loved me, no matter what. My mom on the other hand had to "deal with it" and was quite upset and miserable for a year or two. Don't know if my dad just didn't think about it, or accepted it.

Now both my family and Gregory's love and adore us both. He is an integral part of all family celebrations and I think we might be the favorite "daughter-in-law" or "sister-in-law" of both families :-)

I use these expressions figuratively as G and I do not take on gender roles. In the relationship, he does what he is good at and I do what I am good at and those things neither of us like to do we share. In the "olden days" people used to wonder while role you took. Are you the wife? Are you the woman? Are you the bitch? Top? Bottom? Maybe some people still think (and maybe some gays still behave) that way but Gregory and I do not feel the need to identify in that way.

My first relationship with a man lasted 13 years before we grew apart and finally separated on a friendly basis (after much arguing and anger.) My current life partner and soul mate, Gregory, and I met 30 years ago and are still going strong. (I am 62 he is 58.) We were participated in a "Civil Union" ceremony in Vermont recently and took part in a "unity" ceremony during the March on Washington many years ago. While the issue of Gay Marriage is a controversial one, we believe that making a commitment to each other (of whatever type) is what matters, and making that commitment in the presence of others is important. 

Before deciding that I was gay, I had had many girlfriends and even loved one or two to the point that I thought I would get married. Final analysis, men were more important to me in a relation (and in lust :-) 

I mention this about women only because you are still young yet. Gay could be it for you or it could be a "phase." I do not mean this lightly and am not disrespecting you and your decision, I am only saying that as we "grow up" (and I am still growing up :-) we explore and experiment with who we are and who we want to be. These decisions change and take unexpected turns. I am only advising that you keep an open mind and be prepared to explore, experience, learn, and grow. I am sure you will do a fine job of defining who you are!

Check out my web site if you get a chance. When I came out there were no older role models for me to follow. Most older gays were either in the closet still or behind closed doors in their social groups. Now that "gay" is so much more accepted (in most places but certainly not all) role models are visible on TV, in the movies, and on stage. Even an opera or two has homosexual overtones, like Billy Bud.

Back to the web site, you might find it interesting to see how Gregory and I spend our lives and what is important to us. There are pictures of our 30th anniversary and an overview (with pictures) of our 30 years together as a couple.

If you have any questions you would like to ask I will probably answer them but may refer you back to your mom, another source, or politely decline answering on the grounds that it is too personal or that I don't know a good answer. Ask anyway.

I have enjoyed thinking about these issues and writing to you about them. I in no way mean to imply anything about you or your life and do not assume that you are anything but a thinking, feeling, intelligent young man, but wanted to share some of my thoughts about ME! 

Take care, say hi to your mom, drop me a line if you get a chance, and do check out www.michaelandgregory.com


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome. You are appreciated! If you do not have a sign in to any of the accounts below ... use ANONYMOUS. Thanks.

PLEASE leave a comment or some acknowledgment that you have been here. It can be totally anonymous. You do not have to leave your name. You could use your first name only, your initials, or nothing.

Under each new post you will find the word COMMENT. Click on it and a window will open where you can leave your comments.

It asks you to SIGN IN, but you can also click on ANONYMOUS.