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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Futuramic

Wednesday morning wanders quietly by, as much passing as present. A sense of forward movement is created by this apex of midweek.
If this is Wednesday, there’s a demo on the green at 11. Took B to his first down at Quonset Point in August. Blue skies. Boston collective provided good grub for all. Long column of denims and flannel shirts. Smell of patchouli made me so wistful, wanted to buy a woodstove, prop my feet up, share a J and a pot of Constant Comment with a friend. Maybe some zucchini bread.  
From Living, by C. D. Wright

Like an old Olds 88 I recently saw at a local car show - life is feeling "futuramic" of late: dynamic and shifting, constant change (and, maybe, growth), new horizons.
My sister woke me very early
that morning and told me
“Get up, you have to come see this
the ocean’s filled with stars” 
   - From Future Memories by Mario Melendez
Speaking of future, my favorite musician/poet has a new album (his 33rd studio album!) coming out this Friday. Bruce Cockburn's Bone On Bone sounds like another gem and, "...touches on many subjects close to Cockburn’s heart, including the poet Al Purdy, life in Trump’s America, and the complexities of personal spirituality."

A poet/songwriter who loves poets:
Pokers in the counting house counting out the bacon
matter's getting darker in the universe they're making
they love the little guy until they get a better offer
with the dollar getting smaller they can fit more in their coffers
and the doings on the corner neither sung nor seen
they're circling the shopping carts at Sherbourne and Queen
I resemble that assembly but I'm not the same
Al Purdy's poems are the name of my game
the winds of fate blow where they will
I'll give you 3 Al Purdy's for a twenty dollar bill 
   - Bruce Cockburn, from 3 Al Purdys  (you can listen to this song here)
Of the song, Cockburn says, "Then I had this vision of a homeless guy who is obsessed with Purdy’s poetry, and he’s ranting it on the street. The song is written in the voice of that character."

And I'm feeling futuramic; that is the voice of my character for, at least, this moving-forward Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ancient and compelling

Monday having been the Labor Day holiday all of yesterday, he comes this morning dressed as Tuesday. The sky has that peculiar orange-tinged brown of coming snow, even though it is already nearly 70 (F)/21 (C) and a little muggy, on its way to a forecast high of 93/34.

It could be Ash Tuesday, from the looks of it, but without pancakes. There is even something not unlike snow gently filtering down around me.

I came out this morning to find my car covered in a dusting of very fine ash, the skies smokey, the light heavily filtered and looking for all the world like it did during the recent solar eclipse, and ash falling ever so lightly from the skies. Today's forecast simply says, "smoke."


The Norse Ridge fire in the Wenatchee National Forest is raging and the winds are bringing its output our direction today. The cremation dust of so many trees swirls around us.
...like the girl
at a bend near the Museum gazebo: she tips
a throe of ashes from a brassy urn,
kneeling, not pious, just there, slanting her head
as if to speak to the passing, do it right,
shrug fine ores into the river—it takes so long
to cast away so little left of kin or friend
to Schuylkill, Delaware, Chesapeake, Atlantic,
someone she knew, walked gardens with, and must have loved. 
   - W. S. Di Piero, from The Ash Bringer
I had Al Stewart's Year of the Cat queued up on my phone this morning, so it proceeded to create an ad hoc playlist built around that song. Nostalgia music, most of which I hadn't heard in many years.
But kissed unconscious between Medicine Bow and Tombstone
He shall love at the precipice brink who would love these mountains.
Whom this land loves shall be a holy wanderer,
The eyes burned slick with distances between
Kennebunkport and Denver, minted of transcience.
For him shall that river run in circles and
The Tetons seismically skipping to their ancient compelling music
Send embassies of young sierras to nibble from his hand.  
   - Thomas McGrath, The Topography of History
Old tunes, if not "ancient compelling music," with which to drive through the ashes of ancient and compelling woods on this rather ad hoc Ash Tuesday start of the work week.

Today's playlist:

  • Al Stewart, Year of the Cat
  • Little River Band, Reminiscing
  • Bread, If
  • The Hollies, Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
  • Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Spinning Wheel
  • Cat Stevens, Wild World

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lions through the smoke

Red sun rising again this morning, much like it set last night. Last night it looked overly large and swollen, like one of the itching mosquito bites on my legs. This morning it just looks a bit weary, tired of trying to reach us through the fire-smoke haze that brownly particulates the air with ash from the BC wildfires up north.
Can you imagine the air filled with smoke?
It was. The city was vanishing before noon
or was it earlier than that? I can't say because
the light came from nowhere and went nowhere. 
    - from, Smoke, by Philip Levine
Crossing the Ballard Bridge this morning that same weary sun cast a lovely red reflection of itself, stretched out toward me like a stripe of Oscar-night reception red carpet along the water below. I thought about stopping to try and capture the image in a photo, but as anyone who knows the bridge also knows, that isn't really possible. Not without consequences!
Smoke, like memories, permeates our hair,
our clothing, our layers of skin.
The smoke travels deep
to the seat of memory.
We walk away from the fire;
no matter how far we walk,
we carry this scent with us. 
   - from, Smoke in Our Hair, by Ofelia Zepeda
The campus has the quiet sort of busyness of summer quarter as I pull in this morning. I'm digging out of email and tasks from a week off: consequences.


We went up to BC for the week. We were supposed to be in a cabin on a lake in the middle of the wilderness area where all the forest fires are burning, but with the area evacuated and roads closed, that wasn't possible. So we spent our week in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, basking in unusually warm weather and breathing wood smoke like we were sitting on the wrong side of a bonfire all day. Despite the change in plans and the smoke, it was a lovely week away. I finally got to meet some of Darren's Vancouver friends in person. Good people and gracious hosts!
Rain forest
Mist and mystery
Teeming green
Green brain facing lobotomy
Climate control centre for the world
Ancient cord of coexistence
Hacked by parasitic greedhead scam -
From Sarawak to Amazonas
Costa Rica to mangy B.C. hills -
Cortege rhythm of falling timber. 
   - Bruce Cockburn, from If A Tree Falls
So the sun is blood red, the air smokey, some of those "mangy B.C. hills" are burning (as is America's democracy), my inbox is overflowing, and, for whatever reason, I'm still feeling good. Very much like another Cockburn tune that didn't come up in this morning's random shuffle playlist:
Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me 
I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren't half as frightening as they were before
But I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me 
Walls windows trees, waves coming through
You be in me and I'll be in you
Together in eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me 
Up among the firs where it smells so sweet
Or down in the valley where the river used to be
I got my mind on eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me 
And I'm wondering where the lions are...
I'm wondering where the lions are... 
   - Bruce Cockburn, from Wondering Where the Lions Are
They're out there, very real and still pacing through the smoke, but at bay for now.

Today's playlist:
  • Olsen Olsen, Sigur Rós
  • Please Forgive Me, David Gray
  • I Tried to Leave You (Live), Leonard Cohen
  • For Those That Are There, Kyle Asche Organ Trio
  • Naima, Karrin Allyson
  • Turpentine, Brandi Carlile
  • No More "I Love You's", Annie Lennox
  • Íllgresi, Sigur Rós
  • Lonely People, Augustana

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

While it lasts

Last night was cooler than it has been for a while, and it felt wonderful. We of the Pacific Northwest are comfortable with cooler weather, and also with complaining about weather. For many here, perfect weather is no colder than 70 F (21 C) and no warmer than 72 F (22 C), with humidity in the 30% range. This fits our regional fashion sense of wear-whatever-you-want, since almost anything you wear will be comfortable at that temperature. Stocking cap in mid-summer? Shorts in mid-winter? Jeans to the opera? Buttoned up shirt to Starbucks? Sure.


So the cool of evening felt good after several searing (I tell you!) evenings in the upper 70s or low 80s.
You have come,
After sun-stung days,
As gold greatly wished -
Dearer
Than the loveliness of all songs. 
   - Mark Turbyfill, from To A Cool Breeze
This morning's drive to campus was still weather-cool and traffic was light. Van Morrison was playing:
Foghorns blowing in the night
Salt sea air in the morning breeze
Driving cars all along the coastline
This must be what it's all about
Oh this must be what it's all about
This must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here 
   - from So Quiet In Here
No scheduled morning meetings means I'll be able to look forward to actually working on a few projects and to-dos. "Oh, this must be what it's all about" during the relative quiet of summer quarter. "So quiet in here, so peaceful in here."

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Best friends

Tuesday the rains finally stopped and the storms began again, and this blog has (temporarily, I assure you) become a much more personal diary of journey than is its norm.
You'd think the sky would run out of water,
but it won't; it just keeps coming down. I need someone
to marvel at the breath escaping from me.
Do you have a natural resource you prefer to exploit?
Does someone think of you and turn the channel?
How would you ever know? 
   - Todd Colby, from You'd Think the Sky Would Run Out of Water
Yesterday the sun warmed our well-watered part of the world in full spring wattage. Yet while the sun glowed down from bright blue skies the storms gathered again and broke inside. And Facebook outed me all over again, despite its very clear assurances to the contrary; my change in relationship status ('it's complicated') was posted to my wall. Damn!, but fair, I suppose.

I didn't sleep much last night. I'm up at 4:00, making yerba mate, reading, and writing.


This is how you work through the painful process of converting a very happy and solid 35-year long marriage into not-a-marriage, while looking to preserve the best and deepest friendship you have ever known (or will likely ever know).
Tuesday when you opened your eyes your
Room was a cold disaster. Arranged
Around you, its own disorderly life 
Took stock of you like a crazy pendulum
Swung over your head like a demonstration
In a science museum, your hands were numb, 
   - V. R. Lang, From "Poems to Preserve the Years at Home"
So this is the hard part of coming out at age 55: collateral damage. I think I may have been the last person standing to realize that you cannot be both a gay man and also married to a wife. Not if either of you want a fulfilling life moving forward. Yesterday, both Melissa and I realized that together, after a series of very difficult and honest conversations. We had previously talked about various possible future configurations, but yesterday was a breakthrough day in terms of really understanding that our futures will necessarily lie in bifurcation. To use the word that is ever so much harder to acknowledge: divorce.

Its not a bad thing, in the end. We aren't coming apart because we don't love each other, we're coming apart because we do. Our futures will remain connected in friendship and mutual support, and we're very much committed to preserving that as a necessary part of both our lives moving forward.

We're not rushing our fences, as this isn't anything that has to happen quickly. There are no current partners-in-waiting, no second lives to take up at this point. Its just that we both now know where we are going in our suddenly much-changed personal world.

The what-if question I keep coming back to is whether, knowing all of this, I would have had the courage to "come out." I don't think I could have stopped my initial and accidental "stumbling out" over lunch with my son that day, but I could have chosen to stop there.  Rather than moving forward and telling Melissa I could have circled back to Tristan and asked him to just forget what I had said and let it go. I certainly stared into that possibility yesterday as Melissa and I talked. Is it too late to just stop this process and go back to denying who I am in order to preserve our relationship? I would, if we could.

As I contemplated what that would be like, having now tasted freedom from all those oppressive years of constantly denying who I am, though, I found myself staring back into an abyss of hopelessness that was so visceral it quite literally almost made my knees buckle. The notions of abyss and vertigo are often tied together, and for good reason. It must have shown in my eyes because Melissa felt it, too. It became our break-through moment of truth, painful as it was.

For all of this, we are now at peace with our future. We don't have it all figured out, we don't have any clear timeline, and there are going to be many complicated details yet to work through. What we do have is a clear vision of how we want to preserve our friendship, stay a significant part of each others lives, and hold hands through this process.
There is a joy in the journey,
There's a light we can love on the way.
There is a wonder and wildness to life,
And freedom for those who obey. 
   - Michael Card, Joy In The Journey
When I first started reading others' accounts of life after coming out (while married) I was frustrated that there were no success stories that didn't involve eventual separation and subsequent friendship (unless you count "open" marriages). OK, now I understand why and also see the value of setting each other free to experience fulfilling lives while still holding on to the deep friendship already forged by time together. I don't think I could possibly have understood that without having been through these last several weeks, nor could I have ever envisioned our journey leading to this.

It helps, of course, to have been married to one of the most amazing women I have ever known. My coming out process has been hers as well, and these out-of-the-ordinary blog entries represent a shared story. Melissa has been reviewing them before I post, since electing to share this mutually-experienced process with others has to be a mutual decision. A mutual decision by two very-best friends.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Assembly required

In a departure from my normal blog programming the previous post was my public "coming out" as a gay man announcement. I heard from many people after that post, offering words of support and love. I've heard from others that sharing my journey has helped them, too. I am very fortunate to know so many wonderful people and to live in a place and time where there is relatively high acceptance of the spectrum of LGBTQ people.

I have to say, a couple weeks past that declaration, that being "out" is an amazing experience. Now that I'm not spending so much energy hiding who I am, I find I have much more energy for others. I enjoy interacting with people more than before, now that those exchanges no longer bring the constant worry about accidentally giving too much away. I'm happier and much more relaxed. I feel whole and complete for the first time in my adult life. It is amazing gift.
I was given a cell with a window. There was a certain light at evening.
I was given nothing but the air, and the air dazzled.
    - Joy Katz, from All You Do Is Perceive
I find I have gone from navigating being gay to still navigating being gay, but now through a different user interface (UI). It's kind of like switching from Waze to Google Maps on my phone. Both apps do a really good job of helping me navigate, but one UI focuses on avoiding and/or re-routing around problems and the other UI focuses more on what I can do along the way or when I arrive. Where I used to have to constantly self-monitor to keep from letting my orientation be seen (avoiding problems), I now get to experience what it means to live a whole and honest life (what I can do along the way) while also navigating the wide variety of opinions and feelings people have about and toward LGBTQ people.
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for
those who would climb through the hole in the sky.  
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged
from the killing fields, from the bedrooms and the kitchens.  
For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.
   - Desiray Kierra Chee, from A Map to the Next World
I'm also already learning what microaggressions about LGBTQ people feel like when received first hand. That didn't take long!
"...microaggressions point out cultural difference in ways that put the recipient’s non-conformity into sharp relief, often causing anxiety and crises of belonging..."
   - from the article, Microaggressions Matter, Simba Runyowa, The Atlantic, 9/2015
Since coming out I've had a few well-meaning and supportive acquaintances make it subtly clear that while they support my personal journey, they would rather I kept it to myself.  To their credit, they really are trying to be nothing but supportive and I very much honor and appreciate their effort on my behalf.  It's just that they also have an implicit bias (we all do!) that creeps into their words, and that bias now includes me - specifically me as a gay man. Not unexpected but still, ouch.

The message (the microaggression) is: be gay if you must, but don't make me uncomfortable in the process. "Why do gay people feel like they have to announce their sexual orientation to the world? - I don't flaunt my heterosexual orientation everywhere." or "Your right to stretch your arms stops at the next person's nose." or "I hope you won't start telling gay jokes now." or "This doesn't have to impact the way you do your job or go about your business."

Oh, but it does if I'm honest.

When I came out I knowingly gave up one of the dominant-culture privileges under which I had been operating. Heterosexual orientation underpins almost every aspect of daily life in our culture/society. Roles, interactions, expectations, tone of voice, assumptions, vocabulary, laws, rights, and more, are all based around hetero-normative standards and assumptions. Being gay in a hetero-normative society means that just existing is disruptive. In other words, gay people don't have the option to be ourselves and also be politely invisible at the same time. That's what being in the closet is.

Which is why I made the decision to be publicly "out" in the first place, and why I believe it is important (if not unavoidable, as I am now finding) to be visibly so. So, to that end, I bought a new hoodie that also plays to my sense of humor:


Also, I'm discovering I was naive about the ease with which my wife and I would be able to continue on as if nothing much had changed. We've both come to see, as we continue to talk and process (and laugh and cry), that this is a much more complicated journey for us to sort through. We both now see that the future is going to look different than the past, but we cannot yet see what "different" looks like. That's very unsettling to a 35 year marriage and the stability we have both known. My wife remains the amazing person I have always known her to be, and she has determinedly supported my decision to come out and gamely engaged the challenges that come with that decision. This is asking a lot of any wife, and I know it.

I find myself unpacking memories at odd moments, too, as does my wife. Memories that now have explanations which were either not readily apparent at the time, or things which I couldn't honestly explain at the time. Small things take on new significance as we look backwards. "Oh, that's why you...." or "Do you remember that time I..., well that was really because...." Backwards is easier to examine than forwards. I frequently find myself saying, when asked how this aspect of the coming out journey is going, that, "it's complicated."

But mostly, coming out as a gay man has been very liberating, to an extent I could never have imagined. It is a precious gift, but some complicated assembly is clearly going to be required.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I am a gay man


Lunch with my adult son, seated at a small corner table at the Blue Star Cafe in Seattle, discussing the complexities of the past.  It is a conversation that requires being frank and open so all of my usual guards and defenses are, by very intentional design, down. The conversation is, in turns, brutally honest and mundane. There is air to clear and also things to catch up on.  Somewhere in the twists and turns of this conversation, though, I lose my usual composure and hear myself admit something I have never acknowledged before. Never ever said out loud to anyone else, ever: I'm gay.
Maybe the poet is gay
But he'll be heard anyway
   - Bruce Cockburn, from Maybe The Poet
Why did I let that happen, after 55 years of carefully, painstakingly maintained self-suppression? Why then, when I had no plan or thought to suddenly be "outed" and was so good at making sure that could/would never happen? I suppose, on reflection, because in that moment and in the context of that very honest conversation, looking across the table and locking eyes with my son, I simply couldn't maintain the lie any longer.  My defenses were down and I couldn't pull them back up again quickly enough, or I just ran out of the energy to maintain them.
When I spoke the words I am gay
I had let them fester like blood on a prison cell wall.
I hadn’t known that they would free themselves.
   - Alex-Quan Pham, from When I Spoke
Did I mention that my son is also gay?  [I still can't believe I now have the freedom to use a phrase as clear and honest as, "is also gay."] He has been out for several years, is happily married to a wonderful man, and has always had our full support.  When he first told his mother and I that he was gay I was (secretly) delighted for him and we were both quick to let him know that he had our very sincere love and support.  We understood.

I certainly understood. Yet, even in that most-critical and vulnerable moment for him I couldn't bring myself to put my arms around him and tell him just how well and personally I understood.  I didn't tell him that I knew exactly what this was costing him to tell us.  I didn't let him (or his mother) see me later cry tears of joy for him that he lived in a place and time when it really was an option to come out as a gay man, because those tears were also a lament for my own well-hidden secret truth. I couldn't respond fully and authentically to my son when I, more than anyone else in the world, could have been there for him.
Knowing that being
fierce and proud and out and
loud was just a bright new way
to be needy. Please listen to me, oh
what a buzz! you're the only one
I can tell.
   - from Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992 by Brenda Shaughnessy
For a closeted gay man (or anyone with any flavor of hidden self-truth, for that matter) there are hundreds of such moments of clarity and despair, and little bit of you dies each time you face those moments.  There is nobody you can share that pain with, so you internalize it and die a little bit and soldier on again, resolute in your fate.  There are also the thousands of times your well-practiced defenses cause you to constantly monitor your every word and gesture.  Did that sound gay?  OMG - that gesture I just made - did anyone see, did it give me away?  That look someone just made - they know! No, maybe not.  Whew!

A colleague and friend, when I came out to him, observed that gay men who come out later in life tend to have a well developed sense of emotional intelligence and are very in-tune to the emotions and actions of others because of years of constantly monitoring everyone around them at all times, monitoring to make sure they aren't showing signs of knowing.   He likened it to having eyes in the back of your head.
The process of through is ongoing.
The earth doesn’t seem to move, but sometimes we fall
down against it and seem to briefly alight on its turning.
We were just going. I was just leaving,
        which is to say, coming
elsewhere. Transient.
   - Miller Oberman, from On Trans
After I quietly admit (the guilt packed into the choice of that word!) my homosexuality to my son he is kind but doesn't seem particularly surprised. He takes the news in stride almost like I've just said I am going to mow the lawn later that day. He notes, though, that once you walk through that door (coming out) you can't really walk back. That observation will prove to be very prescient, though I don't yet know it.

He asks if I've told his mom - does she know?  No! I'm not looking to make any lifestyle changes, she is my soulmate, so why should I tell her?  Nothing can come from it, but maybe confusion and pain and anxiety.  It seems like a very selfish gesture on my part.  Hmmm. I can tell he's not happy I haven't told her, and I realize I've now placed him in a position of having to be complicit in my untruth.
Little by little, I have become
so careful, no talk
of politics, or orientation:
I let them say, he's “a homosexual,”
without an arch correction. 
  - Randall Mann, from Black Box
A few weeks go by and I'm haunted by the question left hanging from that lunch discussion.  Should I tell my wife?  Is it selfish to tell her or is it something I owe her?  I'm not afraid of her reaction (well, maybe a little, to be honest), knowing how supportive she is and how strong our love for each other is.

My wife and I are listening to an audiobook.  Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series (which follows the original Percy Jackson series) and suddenly (a little bit of a not-quite-spoiler alert!) one of the characters is brutally outed in front of his friends as being gay and having had a long-time crush on one of the other major male characters.  I feel myself tense up in my chair, feeling his horror and shame.  But this part of the story is handled so beautifully by the author, and it becomes a minor thread in the story moving forward, tenderly handled and comfortingly resolved by the end of the series.  I'm so powerfully moved and sit there wishing there had been any such characters in any story I had access to in my youth - someone like me I could have followed to a foreseeable, possible, happy conclusion.
His voice cracked, and Jason could tell the guy was about to get teary-eyed. Whether Nico had really given up on Percy or not, Jason couldn't imagine what it had been like for Nico all those years, keeping a secret that would've been unthinkable to share in the 1940s, denying who he was, feeling completely alone- even more isolated than other demigods.
   - Rick Riordan, from The House of Hades
But when and where I grew up there was no such option.  I certainly knew there were gay people in the world.  I also knew there were kids who ran away from home to join the circus.  But knowing that was the case didn't make running away to join a circus a real option for me (not that I wanted to!). Knowing there were gay people didn't make being gay an option either.  So I date girls and have crushes on boys and am confused.  I go to college, have even stronger crushes on guys and continue to date girls.  I meet and fall in love with my wife, we get married, and I know things will now be better.   But I don't change just because I've married a woman I am very much in love with. My secret truth remains, so I bury as deeply as I can and build the life I/we have today.

This is the part I don't expect many people to quite understand.  I am happily and contentedly in love with my wife.  We have over 35 years of marriage and are as in-love today as when we were first married. Maybe more so. She is my soul-mate.  I am gay (not, in my case, bi-sexual or anything else on the non-binary expanding sense of human sexuality and gender identity we are finally beginning to acknowledge as a society).  There is no confusion on my part about this fact, and there has never been: I am a gay man.  But I am also in love with my wife, very much a woman.  We have, I have recently learned, what is referred to as a mixed-orientation marriage.

A couple more weeks go by before I realize I really do need to tell my wife.  Two weekends in a row I try to find the courage to initiate that conversation, failing every time to get farther than heart palpitations and sweating palms.  God, this is hard!  Why is it so hard just to be myself?!?  I can't do it. I will do it. I can't do it. I'm going to do it this time. No, I just can't.
“Nico clenched his sword. Sharing his secret crush hadn’t been the worst of it. Eventually he might have done that, in his own time, in his own way. But being forced to talk about Percy, being bullied and harassed and strong-armed simply for Cupid’s amusement … Tendrils of darkness were now spreading out from his feet, killing all the weeds between the cobblestones. Nico tried to rein in his anger.”
   - Rick Riordon, from The Blood of Olympus
Finally, on a Sunday morning we are both sitting in our usual living room chairs.  It's a lazy morning, neither of us really wants to get up from our morning coffee/yerba mate to start tackling the chores of the day.  She makes motions of getting ready to do just that, though, so I know the moment has come. In that instant I also know that if I don't speak now I probably won't ever try again. I push myself to start the conversation knowing that once rolling I will have to finish.

No, don't get up just yet.  I have something I need to share with you.  I watch her eyes get wide with fear - she can sense in my voice that this is something significant and has no idea what it could be.  I pause, because I literally can't get my voice to work and the words are stuck in my throat like a lump of dry clay. My heart is pounding in my ears. She watches me struggling and I can feel her anxiety rising.  I know I need to get this out.  I need to say what I need to say and get quickly to the part about still loving her intensely and not wanting any change of relationship.

I feel like the State Patrol Officer who has to call up a parent and tell them their son or daughter has been involved in an automobile accident but that they are all right: how quickly can you get through the first necessary part of that sentence and get to the reassurance that parent will desperately need to hear?  How quickly can I say the relationship-rocking part and get to the bit about not wanting a different relationship or partner?  Not quickly enough.

I say it baldly - I need to tell you that I am a gay man. She repeats it back in shock - Are you telling me you're a gay man? You?  Yes, me.  This is who I am, who I have always been.  She is totally surprised.  She had no idea, I had hidden it very well.  She takes the news in and then, slowly, we start to talk it through.  She is an amazing woman, and I can sense we're going to be all right. The relief I feel is almost overwhelming.

Even then I figured I'd share this long-held last secret with my wife and then redraw the line there. Since I wasn't looking for any changes of any sort, nobody else had any need to know.  Nobody would know or be able to tell and life would move forward more or less the same.

What I wasn't prepared for, though, was just how cathartic coming out would be. In the discussion with my son it was more like answering a yes/no question. Telling my wife was the first time I allowed myself to say out loud the phrase, I am a gay man. In telling my wife and saying it out loud a huge crushing weight was instantly lifted from me, one I had no idea I had been carrying until that very moment.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort, at all times, to deny a significant part of yourself in every transaction, everywhere you go. I had walked out a door and, as my son had warned several weeks earlier, there really was no going back.  And suddenly I was ok with that, excited about it, even.  And scared, of course.

Since that Sunday I've been letting folks know, one at a time.  People I work closely with, close friends, family, select others. I've been misrepresenting myself for so long that I feel I owe some people an honest conversation.  If I want to participate in conversations with authenticity moving forward I need to give people the opportunity to understand this newly disclosed aspect of myself first.  Part of me resents feeling like I even need to have these conversations, but I also know I have been the one lying and I owe them the truth. I also know I have to give each of them the space to do with that truth what makes sense to and for them.

And now there is this very long and very personal blog post, too.  It is no longer a secret.  The toothpaste isn't going back into the tube.  I am a gay man, that is a part of what makes me, me.
"I'm living by example by continuing on with my career and having a full, rich life, and I am incidentally gay."
   - Portia DeRossi
I hope you are still ok with me, now that you know who I really am.