Tag Archives: coming out

The Equal Rights Blog Hop: Coming Out in the 80s

Coming Out in Small Town New England in the 80s

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Welcome to the Equal Rights Blog Hop! Each year, members of the the GLBTQ community and their supporters gather to celebrate the battle for equal rights. This year, thirty different authors have joined in the hop, and there are prizes galore! Be sure to check out the entire prize list at Queertown Abbey and see how you can enter to win the rafflecopter–as well as the Master List of Participating Authors.

I came out in 1983 in Keene, NH, a town with a population of about 23,000.  This was not a great time to be gay in America.  Homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness (until it was reclassified in an addendum to the DSM-III in 1987), and just one year after I came out, a young, openly gay man named Charlie Howard drowned, after being beaten and thrown off a bridge in Bangor, Maine—the town I was born in.

The world was not yet ready for us—for me.

I was actually lucky.  Though I’d spent some time in fundamentalist churches and, not to put too fine a point on it, been seriously screwed up by their loathing of homosexuals, my parents were not mean people.  In 1983, I was living with my mother—a psychologist—and she handled the revelation that her oldest son was gay pretty well.  My problems were self-loathing, taught to me by the church and society, and sheer loneliness.

Apparently, my self-loathing didn’t go very deep, because I was able to get over that within a few years of meeting other gay men and starting to date.  Thank God.  But that first obstacle—meeting other gay men—was a challenge.  Keep in mind, they didn’t want to be found.  Not by anyone who wasn’t gay.  And that made it hard for those who were gay to find them too.

It took me about a year to go from coming out to finally meeting another gay man.  Any gay man.

A friend of mine had heard that one of the local supermarket papers had personals for gays as well as straight people, so I picked up a copy.  There were a few GWM (Gay White Male) Seeking… hookups, mostly.  I found most of them kind of creepy.  But there was one from a man just a few years older than myself, and he appeared to be looking for someone to hang out with—not necessarily sex.  So I agonized over my response and finally sent a letter that just copied his ad, replacing his age with mine.

Fortunately, Michael thought it was cute.  He called and we arranged to meet in a public place.  Again, I was lucky.  Michael didn’t turn out to be my One True Soulmate, but he did turn out to be a caring, attractive man who made me feel good about myself and, as someone who worked in public radio news, he opened my eyes to the world around me.  And yes, he also became my first lover. For the record, he didn’t seduce me—I pretty much threw myself at him.

It was also through Michael that I finally found the Gay community in Keene.  It turned out they moved every month from one house to another, the next month’s location published in a newsletter distributed only to members, and then marked by purple balloons attached to the house’s mailbox when the time came.

At this time, there wasn’t much of an “LGBT” community.  Gay men did not hang out with lesbians, and the two groups frequently badmouthed each other.  Bisexuals and transgendered people were, I’m sad to say, treated with mockery.  Michael wasn’t like that. He and I rented rooms from a lesbian couple and he had friends who were bisexual, so I learned not to absorb the cliquish attitudes I encountered in the men’s group.  But we certainly weren’t any more welcome at the lesbian group than our landlady and her partner were welcome at the men’s group.

I recall being baffled, at the time.  I couldn’t understand why we didn’t all ban together and recognize we had a common cause.  I can’t tell you how much better things got for all of us in the 90s, when this began to happen.

To enter the grand prize drawing at Queer Town Abbey, please answer this question — WHAT TOWN DID I LIVE IN WHEN I CAME OUT?

Then, go to this link–

http://queertownabbey.com/the-equal-rights-blog-hop-july-4th-through-11th/

What you do next, will be explained there!

 

 

 

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, GLBT History, Jamie Fessenden, Life

Guest Blog: Coming Out at 35 by Posy Roberts

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Is there an ideal age to come out? I have a friend who watched her middle school son come out to his school a few years ago. In 1989, a classmate of mine waited until he left for college. I know adults who are still not out for one reason or another. Stonewall polled people and found younger people are coming out much earlier than their older counterparts did. There is no right answer, but there are certainly circumstances that make it harder for people.

Pretend you’re a bisexual man, and even at the age of thirty-five, no one knows this except for the boyfriend you dated in high school. Everyone thinks you’re straight. After all, you dated only women—as far as they know—married a wonderful one, had kids with her, and on the outside, everything seemed picture-perfect until you asked for a divorce. You ended up separating for the same reasons as many couples around, because after you had kids, you and your wife slowly fell out of love. So why would anyone think you were anything but straight?

Nothing drastic needs to change in your life just because you’re bisexual. Unless you fall in love with a man, the same man who stole your heart when you were a teen. He’s the one person you’ve never been able to get out of your head either.

Spark, book one in my North Star Trilogy, is about second chances at love with that special someone who got away. Kevin Magnus kept his bisexuality such a close secret because his father never would’ve approved of having a son who was in any way different. When Kevin left home for college, he dated women, and eventually Erin, the woman who would become his wife.

Now that Kevin has reconnected with Hugo Thorson, Kevin has a very new reality to face. How does he come out? And he will eventually have to come out, he realizes, especially after he sees how out Hugo is. There’s no putting Hugo back in any closet, and Kevin would never want that either. He loves this new, freer Hugo, but Kevin is reticent.

After essentially living the life of a straight man for years, how do you come out? Kevin really has no clue how to manage it. As a father, it means more than simply declaring that he’s bisexual. He has to think about how to explain this to his children. Starting to date a man could be confusing to them. And how will Erin handle the news? He’s concerned that his newly revealed sexuality might affect his custody of the kids. Beyond that, he has to consider how friends and family will take the news.

In my personal life, I have a teensy experience that pales in comparison to this, but it made me very empathetic to this experience. Just like a lot of bisexual people, I assumed I was straight until I was faced with my very evident attraction to another woman. It was years before I said anything to anyone, and by that time, I was married and had a kid. I’m still married, but that’s not to say that my husband’s mind didn’t dance around like molded Jell-O on a hot summer’s day when I told him. It took him a while to adjust. It was just that his perception of me had changed.

There are no easy answers, Kevin quickly realizes and he knows he needs to take time to get used to the reality that living as an openly bisexual man dating a man is a completely different experience than living as a closeted one. Hugo needs to be patient with this process as well, and it is a process that takes more than one book to resolve. Spark is just the beginning of that journey.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 28 of Spark. You can read Chapter 1 here . This is the first time Kevin is coming out to a friend, even if his mouth gets away from him.

“I’m actually dating the guy he said all that shit to.” The words just mindlessly tumbled out of Kevin’s mouth in a rush, and he gripped his hair tightly until it hurt, mentally kicking himself for allowing his panic to get ahead of his logical thinking. But it was out there now.

“Oh man! That makes it about a hundred times worse.” No judgment. Nothing bad happened.

“Tell me about it. And I can’t get a hold of Hugo.”

“Shit. I’ll let you go so you can get to him.”

“Dena?” Kevin could hear worry straining those two syllables.

“What is it, Kevin?” She sounded concerned.

“Please promise me you won’t say anything to Erin?”

“Okay?”

“No. She doesn’t know I’m bisexual. No one does, and I’m not ready to say anything yet. I shouldn’t have said anything to you. I don’t know why I did. I’m not thinking straight.”

“Kevin, that’s your secret. If I’ve learned anything over the years from my brother, it’s that coming out has to happen when you’re ready, and it doesn’t happen all at once. Kevin?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad you felt comfortable enough with me to share that. I’m sure it wasn’t easy if this was the first time you’ve told anyone.”

Suddenly his quick call to make sure Mike got home was turning into a therapy session.

“I’ve known since I was sixteen. I was with Hugo in high school. He was my first boyfriend and my first.”

“And you’re back together? How romantic.”

Blurb:Spark2

In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.

By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.

When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.

Posy RobertsPosy’s Bio:

Posy Roberts lives in the land of 10,000 lakes (plus a few thousand more). But even with more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, Minnesota has snow—lots of it—and the six months of winter makes us “hearty folk,” or so the locals say. The rest of the year is heat and humidity with a little bit of cool weather we call spring and autumn, which lasts about a week.

She loves a clean house, even if she can’t keep up with her daughter’s messes, and prefers foods that are enriched with meat, noodles, and cheese, or as we call it in Minnesota, hotdish. She also loves people, even though she has to spend considerable amounts of time away from them after helping to solve their interpersonal problems at her day job.

Posy is married to a wonderful man who makes sure she eats while she documents the lives of her characters. She also has a remarkable daughter who helps her come up with character names. When she’s not writing, she enjoys karaoke, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make normal seem more interesting.

Read more at http://posyroberts.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/posyroberts11

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PosyRoberts

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Filed under Blog Tour, gay, Guest Blogger, Life, New Release, Romance, Writing, Young Adult