2.12.2010

MoHo Microcosm

Thursday, in Seminary: For the past several weeks (and days, in particular) I had been seriously considering whether it was time to come out. Just as I was feeling that it was time for action, the girl who sits behind me passed a note up asking to speak with me after class...and before I knew it I'm going with her to a Valentine's Day dance. I'm sure it'll be fun, and I'm sort of looking forward to it, but I do feel a bit disingenuous.

~~~

As I said, I am strongly considering coming out. I don't see any net benefits to staying closeted longer. It would be difficult to be openly gay in a fairly narrow high school, but I wouldn't be the only one. There are others who are out at my school, and others who will be out in the future. While I could stay within the (seemingly) safe confines of the closet, what about tomorrow's gay students--especially those who are also LDS? I'd like to think that my coming out could help foster positive change for them, so, I can do my part to maintain the status quo through inaction, or do what I can to change attitudes for the better. While I do not overestimate my (very limited) ability to influence anyone, I cannot simply shrug and say that people will be more accepting tomorrow--because they won't, unless there is action today. As Martin Luther King said, "Change does not roll in on the back of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."

~~~

Everyone likes being liked, but for closeted gay people, it is often tainted by the insecurity "If you really knew me...", the worry that admirers would be scorners if they knew the truth. As an anonymous quote says, "It's better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not." I've tried the latter, and now I'm ready to risk the former.

~~~

Some may advise me not to come out when I have been so unsure of my orientation. My sexuality has indeed been somewhat ambiguous; however, I think this is more common than I was led to believe. I have read that it is quite normal to see a two year period between the realization that one is not heterosexual and the definite claiming of an orientation. Knowing this, I'm not sure the discovery and exploration of my sexuality has been all that unusual. Moreover, I think that it is probably because the fact of my homosexuality didn't occur to me at a young age that I was able to develop self-assurance that would help me in the coming out process now. In other words, the ambiguity I've experienced, far from being a reason not to come out, is one of the main reasons I feel I could.

Others may warn that I will be limiting my options in life, and there is truth in that. To respond I go back to the ongoing story of the St. Valentine's dance...

~~~

Earlier today we made arrangements to pick out the corsage and...boot-thing. Sometime after school I met her and her family at the floral shop. I'm not sure why they came along, but they did, and I was fine with it. I shook their hands, but I was already feeling like a fraud. As we picked something out, I began to feel, on a miniscule level, a tiny bit of what a mixed-orientation relationship might be like for me. Don't get me wrong, I know this is just a silly high school dance, but in a small way it seemed like a microcosm what the situation might be like for me: She took the initiative, not me; I felt untrue, in a way, to both her and myself; my knowledge of flowers was more extensive than hers; etc... (Just kidding on the last one there :)

The hardest thing was her dad. He was a really nice guy. And he was happy. He seemed pleased with me and pleased that his daughter was going to a dance. At one point he put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye, and something inside told me I was just wrong. It's such a small thing, but I realized then what I knew all along: that I would not marry a woman. I don't want to, can't do this on an eternal scale--that was the thought that came to me as I shook her dad's hand.

~~~

With regards to my closet status, I will pray fervently and think carefully before moving forward. But in the end that is usually what coming out is: a move forward. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something, but I resolved at the beginning of this year to not let my fears obstruct my way forward. They are warranted, to some degree (there likely is rejection and misunderstanding in store), but life requires us to take risks. I have allowed fear to paralyze me for most of my life, and this time, I intend to follow the advice of a book written to help people move beyond their misgivings:

feel the fear...and do it anyway

10 comments:

Markus said...

Thanks for that quote there at the end! I've come out to two friends now and i really feel like the next step in my emotional/spiritual development is to continue coming out to those i care about, except i've had a lot of fear about it. Thanks for helping me find some courage :)

Mister Curie said...

Great post. Very interesting - your perception of the microcosm of the MOM. I wish you luck on your journey of coming out. I'll be here reading. Keep us updated.

And enjoy the dance. You can just be friends and have a great time.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Just edited for vanity, hopefully this post doesn't come off as quite so self-important now. Ugh!

@Markus: I like that quote too, and thank *you*! I've basically just talked about this, but you actually walk the talk, so props to you :)

@M. Curie: Thanks! I do hope to have a good time and just make the most of it.

darkdrearywilderness said...

You're so dang inspirational! I wish I had had your courage when I was still in high school. It sounds like you're ready...go for it! Good luck :)

Quiet Song said...

Dear Flees,

What you are experiencing is part of our family's current daily existence. First, going to a school dance with a girl is simply that, a fun one time dance event and it sounds like your date has a wonderful encouraging family. Go and have a little fun and set aside your orientation issues for one night. Just relax.

If you are going to come out, perhaps coming out as questioning is a better choice. Without going into detais, there are young men in my knowledge who thought they were gay or bi and less than a year later, they think they are straight. Others retain their questioning or gay status. Just my two cents worth from the frontlines.

Quiet Song

Abelard Enigma said...

You are brave - probably far braver than I'll ever be. As always, I hope and pray for the best for you.

My only bit of advice is to consider talking to your parents about your plans. Not necessarily to get their permission - but they will have to deal with the fallout of this as well. It just might be better for all concerned if they don't find out about your 'coming out' plans after the fact - when someone comes up and talks to them about their gay son.

Bravone said...

FLS, Just have fun with the dance. There is no deception going on. This time of life if for learning, growing, and having fun.

Coming out: We have talked about this before, and I have advised you not to because of possibly limiting your choices. Only you know how you really feel about your sexuality and what you perceive as being your future options.

Having said that, knowing you, and how much others respect you, my kids included, if anyone could pull it off and truly be an example for change, it would be you. If you do it, however, Quiet Song's approach may be something to consider. I would be sure to let people know what it means to you, and not let them pigeon hole you with false assumptions.

Let me know if you are going to do it, and I will fast and pray for you.

Much love,
Bravone

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thanks for your confidence in me, DDW. Your support means a lot to me :)

Thank you for your advice, QS. That is definitely something to consider; however, over the past few months it has really become less a matter of questioning than denial, which I am past or at the very least almost past. But again, I will certainly consider that.

AE, thank you for your kind words :) That really is a good idea and I will try to make sure I'm on the same page with m'folks.

Bravone, thank you for your support. I realize being out could limit me in some ways, but I think it could liberate me, too, in others. Also, I am wary of being held to false assumptions, but I think the only way to expose these stereotypes for what they are is to come out and let people see that a homosexual is not the generalized image they have from society and the media, but their ordinary, tangible, God-fearing friend down the street. So my hope is that coming out could help to upturn the false assumptions so many people have. In any case, I'll let you know where this goes, and thanks for being there for me. I so appreciate you and everyone else who has been so kind and supportive :)

MoHoHawaii said...

I'm all for coming out. My only caution here is whether coming out might influence your parents not to support you in college (I don't mean hugs; I mean paying tuition). As I've said before, if you are financially dependent on your parents, your coming out options may be more limited than when you are fully self-supporting.

It does happen that parents who are religious conservatives retaliate against their gay children by refusing to pay for college. They sometimes even cite recent LDS conference talks that advocate "conditional love" (in essence, if God withholds blessings for disobedience, so can parents).

I have no idea if this applies to your situation, but if it does, keep it in mind as you figure out how to proceed.

Butterflies and hand-grenades said...

Hey FLS you know me and I took your advice with the creation of a blog. And I just wanted to say that I really like the last quote. Thanks for writing.