Define Yourself Above the Waist: A Primer for Coming Out

I know a lot of people struggle with ‘the closet’. I know that coming out can be a very big deal, and certainly, coming out in a small town is very different than coming out in a major metropolitan area, where the LGBT help make the city tick, but a lot of these blogs are written by men in NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, where we gays aren’t a novelty. Just the same, the writers act as if they’re the first homo on Earth, and nobody else could possibly understand how difficult it is for them. Bullshit. We’ve all done it.

I’d like to offer some unsolicited coaching.

Keep the process short. Don’t dwell. Move out. Move on. Unchecked, the closet can flatten one’s character, and if you’re not careful, the lavender line around your self-constructed gay ghetto will become a trench. You’ll be living like Wu Ping, isolated and endlessly wondering if a life in exile is your fate. I know. I was there, in that red coat.

Don’t obsess. When I’d just come out, almost (gulp) 20 years ago, everything was about being gay. I was obsessed. A straight room mate, Parrish, once asked, “Can you talk about anything that’s not gay anymore?” He was right.

Show some balls. I learned the hard way, and too late that when a kid skulks around, afraid of bullies, the bullies smell the self-loathing all over him and go into a feeding frenzy. The same kid shows some spine and confidence – maybe even socks someone in the kisser if he has to – and he gets the respect he deserves.

Redefine yourself above the waist. Move beyond your orientation and out of the ghetto. Rejoin society. I’m talking about making a list of your defining characteristics: mother, father, brother, husband, painter, accountant, baseball player, and not having ‘gay’ be in the top five, or even ten.

Stop apologizing and expect respect. I’m talking about plainly expecting utter equality, and dismissing anything less as the stuff of cro-mags. I’m talking about the subtle, “… Great, my partner Sam and I will be there…” as opposed to the apologetic, “… You should know that I’m gay and that I have a lover. I hope everyone’s okay with that, and that I’m still invited…” Or God forbid, abridging your being due to what someone else might think. You’re better than that. If the invitation evaporates because of your honesty and integrity, why would you want to be a part of that party (or league) anyway?

Be matter-of-fact. When Sam and I planned our wedding just over a year ago, we went all over town for flowers, cakes, gifts, tuxedos, rentals, you name it, and just said to vendors that we were getting married. Nobody missed a beat. Doors weren’t slammed in our faces. Service wasn’t refused. In fact, we were showered with good wishes everywhere we went, without exception. When we’re matter-of-fact, suddenly they are too.

I’m inviting people to see us compete in the L.A. Rodeo this weekend, not the L.A. Gay Rodeo. The official site even calls it the L.A. Rodeo. The livestock don’t know the difference. There are straight cowboys in the L.A. Rodeo, too – a minority, sure – but probably no more a minority than the gay cowboys in the straight rodeo. We’re there for the rodeo. Lets have a rodeo. I want to see how you dog a steer. Dance with whomever you like afterward.

Finally, tear the closet down. Stop jumping in and out. For crying out loud, climb down off the cross and tear it down. You can do better things with the real estate.

1 Response to “Define Yourself Above the Waist: A Primer for Coming Out”

  1. 1 rafaelmieles
    Friday, June 20, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Mazal Tov to you and your wedding. You are very right about the issue of defining yourself above the waist. I like that concept.

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