Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tempest or Teapot

This may all be a bit disjointed, but bear with me.

Some friends are helping me with some discernment in my life. It’s about coming out at work, and such. Risky Business.

Do I really want to do that? Come out? I have a particular role in my organization. The person, me, is out. But the persona, the role, ain’t there yet. How do I continue to do my job, “play” my role (I don’t play at it; I don’t like that term, but it will have to do for now), and stay in the closet? Does anyone really care?

With what I do, there is more involved than just a set of skills or tasks I perform. It involves who I am as a person as well as skills, gifts, talents. To keep myself at some distance from others because of this “secret” is very difficult.

God is putting the screws on. I feel a sense of things “tightening down”, forcing the question. Oh, God. It may seem like no big deal. Maybe it is less of a big deal than I know.

I am afraid of God calling me somewhere I don’t want to go. Calling me to some things I don’t want to do. Like, possibly, behaving myself. Don’t want to go there, that’s for sure. Am I looking for the freedom to do all kinds of things I’ve never done before? Am I looking for the freedom simply to be me? And, exactly, who am I? That’s a question, too.

One of the friends helping me in this discernment has been out for years. He has a partner. The same one for 28 years. Twenty eight years! And he’s not that much older than I am.

He’s said he is in his “post gay” period. It just doesn’t matter (in some ways) to him. He is who he is. Just as he is. He is.

I’ll be 54 years old next month (25 October. Send cards, letters, and large expensive gifts). I’m just getting started. I’ve only been out to myself for about 4 years. I mean really out; when I could look and enjoy the sight of a beautiful, sexy man and not feel shame. I have struggled with this so long. I want the struggle to be over. But then, new struggles will emerge. Am I ready for those? I think so. It couldn’t be any worse, could it? At least the struggles would be out in the open.

I fear rejection; causing upset to others; losing face; not being taken seriously. Some of my constituents will feel a sense of betrayal. Some will “stop shopping with us.” We will lose “business.” Perhaps others will come. Perhaps there will be great support for me. But I don’t want it to be about me. And it isn’t all about me; it’s about what is right. It’s about living one’s life with honesty, integrity, and authenticity. But it’s my life we’re talking about here.

Serenity, Courage, Wisdom. I could use some of that stuff, right now. Now. Right now.


Java said...

And patience? What about patience? Do you want that Right. Now. If you find any, send me the link. I'm searching for some on-demand patience.

That's a tough question, one that (I think) has no easy answers. I wish you well on your quest, dear Joe.

Larry Ohio said...

Without having a clue what you do, I can only wish the best for you.

When I came out professionally, I was worried. But the guys I expected to behave the worst ended up being my biggest supporters. It was unreal. Also, many people just said, "tell us something we don't know". So much for being in the closet at work.

Jeff Shaumeyer said...

Some others might be upset, some won't. Some are waiting for you to come out so they can be supportive--until you tell them it's okay to recognize that you're gay, they'll help keep your secret, because they're friends. Even if everyone were to know, you need to tell them it's not a secret.

There is a way. You'll find it. You'll stop hurting yourself. I'll listen.

jim said...

Be strong, my friend.

Breathe and have faith in yourself. You will make the right choice.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

If God is calling you - you better listen. You know what happened to Jonah and that big whale!!!

Coming Out: My take on it, you're a big boy, who needs to LIVE INTO the man you want to be. Why be so concerned with outing yourself. Why can't you just live as you are and every day the man you want to be will live into (by action).

But put it to prayer. Discernment may take a while - and you know sometimes God speaks immediately sometimes he doesn't. You should be asking the right questions.

I don't think that keeping yourself at a distance is very healthy for a grown man to live in fear of the obvious. I tell my boys that they need to be able to move into the world as themselves first - find a job, a home and make friends, worry about being queer later. Why SLAP a label on your back if you aren't ready yet?

You live in the South, that is a problem. Been there, lived there myself. Know it very well. Why draw unnecessary attention to yourself if you don't have to.

Life is short and time is fleeting live each day as you will and enjoy your life. Like all things in spiritual circles - if you put it to prayer - then wait for an answer - but you better be ready for any answer. Even if your answer is not to your liking. God may have something in store for you on HIS time and not yours.

Never say NO to God. Because it is futile. God always wins. Many of the prophets found that out the hard way. Don't be a stubborn prophet.

Keep us posted on your progress.


Neil said...

With some readers saying this, others saying that, all I can say is: I'm here if you want to talk. Godd luck.

Neil said...

Oh, and I'll persistently ask God to help you discern...

A Troll At Sea said...


I think Larry pretty much said it. But I would add: a friend of ours once said that the truth would set us free. Not make life nice and easy, but set us free.

And from your post, I think that is what you need more than anything else: lay the burden down.

your lovin'

manxxman said...

When Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane he asked God to take this "thing" from me. Oh he knew the answer before he even asked it but he needed to verbalize it. You also know the answer. Think how much more effective you will become once you've worked past this "secret".

You have so much to give to so many. Allow God's gift to you to work for others.

Bigg said...

I wish you serenity, courage and wisdom... but also I wish you'd give yourself permission to just "be." Worry about you, because at the end of the day, you're the only one you're responsible for.

Lemuel said...

I read you post and I read the comments that precede me, and what I hear is an outpouring of love, affection, support, and concern for you! Add me to the list.
As you and I have shared private correspondence, you know that I share similar struggles. You are further on the journey than I. I am not therefore one to advise you, but simply to assure you that I hold you in my heart even as he holds you in the palm of his hand. With every prayer that you may be blessed with insight and wisdom and that you may see clearly the path ahead of you. May you be strengthened as you go.

Michael Dodd said...

Couple of things:

1) The truth will set you free -- but it will hurt like hell first. (Hate to say it, but so often it is the truth.)

2) For 30 years I was a happy and effective Roman Catholic priest. I came out to a number of my superiors over that period of time, and I found (almost) universal support and understanding. But the assumption was that I would remain publicly quiet about it. I was out to family and many friends, but I was faithful to my vows and not a concern for my community.

3) When I decided to simply be who I am, I discovered that I am out. And I did not want to pretend or be silent at all. It is one thing to be quiet when the church was quiet. When my church became politically aggressive in denying even civil rights to people like me, I could not longer remain silent. That meant that I could no longer function as a Roman Catholic priest, that I had to leave my community and that I would wind up entering the job market at an advanced age (I was 54 when I left) and at a bad time to be job hunting. But there is life after even that big a change.

You will survive. Regardless how you choose, you will survive.

Why not survive in freedom and truth?

As that great American theologian Jack MacFarland once asked Will Truman, "Aren't you tired?"

And having said all that, I know as you know that the choice is yours. Only you are aware of all the specific circumstances of your job, your relationships, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your joys, your sorrows. But we are all with you, no matter what!

And you will land in the lap of God.

Ur-spo said...

that was a very good post, indeed.
since it is your life, try not to let anybody boss it around with 'should statements'

Dyl said...

Ur-Spo, characteristically spot on.

I can only say in my own experience it was a fear and, like any other fear, turned out to be more in my own head than a reality. And by that I mean that the fear of rejection, for that was what it was for me, turned out in reality to be completely out of proportion to the actual reactions from people who essentially shrugged and said "ok, you still coming to the pub?" They didn't treat me any differently than before, and in fact I felt and continue to feel much more able to be open about my life generally which is a much happier and relaxed state of mind for me.

But that's me in my life and my environment.

I do wish you well. xx

RB said...

It probably won't be that big a deal if you tell them. However it's your choice and you have to be comfortable with it. Don't let people who are already out push you out before you're ready.

I ask myself "what's the upside to being out at work?" I don't see one, and I don't have any problem right now. So why not just keep things as is? That's where I am right now.

Good luck and stay strong.

RG said...

Alright, here's my two cents: Just be. I know that reads very simplistic, but to me, it's really what it's all about. Just. Be.

Some people will shun you; some will embrace you; some will have questions - lots of questions.

Coming out is a life-long continuing process, but the way I've always handled it, is: Just be.

Dale said...

First of all I commend you on thinking this through, not just jumping in. The only question I have is what is your motivation for coming out? I know people that are out to the world and some that are almost completely private about thier lives. In my personal experience there is no correct time to do this. It may be a one-by-one process or not at all. Ultimately its no ones business unless you choose to share it with them. There are people who will treat you differently if you do, some with respect for making that decision, perhapes some with disbelief, some with anger or bittereness because you do not fit thier mold anymore. GO SLOW..make sure you actually want to do this.
Good Luck With Your Journey

Anonymous said...

I won't identify myself..you know me. I've come out to the Mrs; we're working through what will be salvaged (hopefully most)as we distance ourselves. The one thing she emphasizes is that although I was there for so many years through all that life throws at you and blesses you with, it was nonetheless deceitful because I was never able to give it my all . . . because my all was directed elsewhere. I see that my decision to go into the closet so many years ago was wrong. The hurt I cause to others at this stage is so large compared to what it would have been back then. Being "me" back then would not have postponed the necessary evaluation on their part as to whether to accept or reject me. And for most, it hurts more at this time than it would have back then.
As for work, well, I'm being forced out after 20 years, and I'll be unemployed by the end of the year. Was at a massive reception Tuesday for people in my field and realized that although I knew all these people, I was going to have to make a decision as to whether I job hunted 'out'....or go back into a closet to find a job. You and I, we each provide a service to others, but whereas I just get them out of trouble, you help them cope with the trouble, and that involves a personal level of trust between them and you which is absent in my work. Will your disclosure effectively then preclude your ability to even function in your field? Or in doing what you do best, will you be forced out of greater society and restricted to this 'orientation specialty' we are a part of?
I know you. I know your anguish. You're a good man. But as my grandaddy the grocer said, if the packaging is damaging the value the customer gets out of the product, put it in a different package and put that container to better use than you were. That's what you're in the middle of doing. It's not Gesthemene; it's making better use of you.

BadgerBear said...

Sometimes if you don't go where Spirit leads you, he sends a whale to take you there.

Fear is merely


some people will not understand and some people will - you will be surprised by those in both camps.

Sometimes we have to let go of something good to make room for something great.

Love you :-)
You have my support.

Birdie said...

You've got mail. Hugs and prayers, sweetie.

Steven said...

Like others have stated, I don't know what you do for a living to get a sense of your real "clientele," but perhaps rather than approaching this as a single event, look at it as an "emergence."

I recall feeling the same way you did about two years ago and what satisfied me was when I told a select few at work. I no longer felt the need to tell the whole organization.....However, if I was to ever be approached and asked if I was gay, I would answer truthfully. Since coming out to those select few, I have yet to be asked by anyone else in the organization. Not that I am saying the "select few" must have told everyone else, but I am ready if it happens. I have come to know others in the organization who are gay, without expressly being told, but by what they are involved in. And then I would reciprocate by making them aware as to what I am involved in.

Good luck!

Birdie said...

A man visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta to help for a few months in her mission. He was there to learn more about his purpose in life. When he sat with the nun on his first day, he asked her to pray for him. When she asked what he wished for, he said, “Clarity.”

She responded, “No. I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing you cling to when you need to let go.” He told her that he wanted the clarity she had and she laughed. “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”