Q: I know you are probably so tired of people whining about coming out and being gay, but I have had such a devastating experience and just need to tell someone.
I decided to come out to my family over the holidays. I am a 23-year-old gay man. I have known I was different since I was very young. I really didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew everybody made fun of me and I never really fit in. I guess I was always acting and looked pretty queer because everybody seemed to recognize that I wasn’t normal.
Even in my family I was made fun of, and my dad always wanted me to be a “man” by going out for sports, or going hunting, or just doing boy things. I remember I always wanted to play with my sisters and be with my mom. I was considered a “momma’s boy.” Even in school I didn’t fit. I was pretty much a loner all during school, watching others and wondering what was wrong with me that I didn’t feel like they did.
Anyway, I went off to college and discovered who I am. It was such a awesome revelation to me because even though I know I was different, didn’t fit, and was called queer, I didn’t know I was queer–or what that even meant. I didn’t make it in college; in fact, I was kicked out for my grades, but that is a small price to pay for my happiness. I have been working and dating and have a wonderful time since then.
In fact, I realize I have never been happy until now. So, I decide this Christmas I would tell my family. I waited until after Christmas and when we were all gathered together. I told them that I am “gay.” At first, there was stunned silence. Then, my dad got up and left the room. My mom and sisters tried to tell me it isn’t true; they think I am just confused and looking for acceptance anywhere I could find it. They kept trying to tell me I was “never like that.” My brothers stared telling me what a crazy dumb F—k I am, and they would beat the shit out of me if I didn’t drop it and be normal.
The next morning when I got up my dad was waiting for me, told me to pack-up and never come back. No one else was around; I don’t know where they were. He took me to the bus station and dropped me off. I haven’t heard from anyone since then. When I call and try to talk to my mom, she just hangs up. My friends tell me to just forget it, that I don’t need them, but I feel devastated and don’t know what to do. How do I get my family to accept who I am and be glad for my happiness?
A: The problem is that you can’t “get” them to accept you, however, time is on your side. Often, they just need time to accept your sexual orientation, but it is difficult for acceptance to take place when you have no contact. Do you have aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents who you think would be willing to talk with your family? To support you? Don’t give up, they may make contact with you when you least expect it . In any case, don’t put your life on hold for them either, just keep living and enjoying your life, and developing love and friendships from those around you. Good luck, I know this is a hard time for you.
Q: Do you think my girlfriend owes me an explanation when she goes out, about who she is with, what she is doing and when she will be home?
A. That depends on your relationship and the agreements that the two of you have come up with. Or, perhaps you don’t have any agreements, and that is why you are having this problem now. If you haven’t, it sure is time for you both to talk about expectations and what each of you needs and wants, and is willing to give to your relationship. Then, you can determine if your girlfriend “owes you any explanations.”
When one door closes another one opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
-Alexander Graham Bell
Have a problem? Send your letters to: “Dear Jody,” C/O Between the Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: [email protected]
(Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly.)