Monday, November 23, 2009


In our small Southern city there opened today a showing of panels of the AIDS Quilt.  I cried.  I've never met any of the folk memorialized on the quilt.  All of them are strangers to me.  But the sight of it moved me to tears.  Loving remembrances, famous and not famous.  Parents, children, lovers. The panels are 3 feet by 6 feet:  the size of a coffin.

I did have a small connection to one panel.  My friend Ch. had invited me to the opening night of the Quilt's arrival in town.  His partner Doug died nearly ten years ago of AIDS.  His panel was part of the display.  Ch. showed it to me and explained all the parts, all the symbols.  He'd brought with him pictures and shared remembrances and love.  They were so much in love.

A little bit of grieving releases in me a whole lot of grief.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Still Standing -- -- still

I've been busy and neglecting the blogosphere.  Shame (shit, forget the shame.  Had enough of that to deal with).

I'm still standing, but it feels as if I'm standing still.  For the time being.  Things will move again in a few weeks.  I hope.  Coming out more and more is the plan.  And shall be the reality.  But it is taking time.

In the mean time, I'm in a holding pattern that is using up fuel.  Focusing on work is difficult.  Getting the energy to come to work seems difficult.  I am wondering what my reluctance to come to work is about?

I'm wondering, why can't I just "box" this for now and focus on other things, and bring it out again in a month?  It just doesn't seem to want to be boxed.  Every now and them, some fear rears its ugly head.  But I'm not undone by it. 

Life is good.  I am grateful.  Just thought I'd check in.  More later.

Friday, November 06, 2009

BearToast Explains more: Why Come Out

I've been asked the "why come out" question.  Of course, I've been asking myself that one for years.

Since I finally came out to myself, accepting that I am, in fact, gay, there is always a question of to whom one should come out.  Of course, my (now ex-)wife was a first. I came out to my boss (the regional executive).  I told my brothers (who were not amused), and I have told my children.

Why come out at work?  Is it anyone's business?  No, but it's my soul that can't stand the feeling of hiding.

Brent over at A Journey by myself put it very well in a recent post: 
Today I got to thinking about how when I'm out with straight friends that don't know I'm gay or gay friends that don't know I'm married, I tend to be reserved. But the few times I've been out with people that know my situation, how comfortable I feel. . . . .    I guess the lesson here, is that hiding a secret like this plays havoc on your soul. 

As I've said before, about not coming out, it was slow-motion suicide of the soul.  I mean no judgment on anyone else or his/her situation.  I can and do speak for myself, alone.  I just couldn't handle it.

With my job:  I am in a strange kind of profession that involves who I am as much as any particular skills or task that I may perform.  I cannot relate well to folk unless I am who I am.  Other jobs, professions, etc., are different.  Maybe it's not a big deal.  Each must judge and decide for himself or herself.

Here is a quote from the book Disclosures:  Conversations Gay and Spiritual by Michael Ford (2004, Cowley Publications).  The author is quoting psychiatrist W.G. Sengers.  The "first level of resistance" is when we deny those gay feelings within oursleves:
The second level of resistance emerges in contexts where the homosexual understands his feelings but is tortured by the fear that anyone else should detect them.  As a result, he experiences social isolation, even when he is in the company of others.  He uses up energy in constantly pretending he is "normal."  he never feels relaxed enough to express his true feelings.  This can lead to obsessive tendencies.  He becomes so preoccupied with the fear of being recognized as gay that his sexual feelings are constantly in his mind, haunting him day and night.  They force him to sexualize his total existence. Every situation becomes filled with danger as he remains in a constant state of vigilance to prevent anyone from discovering the truth.  His sexual life, therefore, stands little chance of forming a unity with the rest of his personality. (pp 30-31)
 I know this is probably more than you wanted to hear.  And, there is more great stuff in this book I'l love to mention.  But my typing ain't that great.

Sexuality (gay or straight) is something that is an essential part of our being.  It is something woven throughout the texture, the fabric of our lives.  To try and hard part of that fabric means that, in some sense, we hide the whole thing.  I am weary of hiding.  I desire unity with myself, authenticity, honesty, wholeness.

But there is more.  Claiming this part of me, acknowledging it, accepting it, embracing it, (or trying to do all those things) gives me opportunity to acknowledge and embrace my "tribe."  All of the LGBTQ folk out there are a chosen family to me.  I haven't been out long enough to move into a "post-gay" period.

I know some who are "over it." And I think I understand why, and what that means.  But I am such a newbie, I want to relish in this newness.  Having spent so many years in isolation, I am embracing this new family.  i want to come out for "all of us."  The more the homophobe world realizes we are everywhere, in every profession, in all walks of life, of every age, the more they will have opportunity to understand and accept us.  Some will.  Some will not.  But I've got to try.  I think we all should.

Do I have a plan if it all falls apart?  If I lose my job, my income, etc., what will I do?  Should I wait and think about coming out when it won't "hurt" anyone?  Well, that is an idea . . . . but I'd be dead by then.

I want to come out consciously with my place of business.  If I do not, I will be outed unconsciously.  I fear I am becoming the new elephant in the living room.  (Everyone knows it's there.  Everyone ignores it and just dances around the obvious).

My children have expressed their undying support for me.  Though that has not been severely tested, it may be.  I've done too much to shield them from adversity all along the way.  They are strong, or they will be.  Love means more than just providing for them.  The most loving thing I can do for anyone is to be me.  All of me.  The whole of me.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

BearToast Explains it all

I've said in my profile that folk should feel free to ask me questions.  A few have.  I might have responded directly to them but don't have their emails.  So here it is.

Steve at the Helpful Elephant asked some questions in some comments.  
  • Is the reason you don't have photos of your face because you're afraid of being 'out', even on a blog?  Do you think you're unattractive? Or is it for a more practical reason? Like...You don't want weirdo's to be able to know you for...weird reasons...???
I've not shown my face on the blog for fear (yes, it's fear) of being outed.  I could lose my job, and maybe a lot more.  I long to be completely open, but that's just not where I am yet.  I don't think I'm unattractive, and I know that I'm not exceptionally attractive.  I'm becoming more and more comfortable with me: who I am, and how I look.  I'll send you a picture, if you want.
  • You mentioned you didn't have birthday parties when you were a kid. How come?
My mother has been dead for six years now, you might have needed to ask her.  Our family did not have much money and there was too much dysfunction going around.  I think my mom was too focused on helping other people to notice my brothers or me too much.  And, I was always a good boy, trying very hard never to get in the way.

  • Who's taking the photo's of you in each shot? For example, the one on the beach or the recent one of you looking out into the ranges...
The beach photos were taken by one of my daughters.  The shot of me in the mountains was done by using the timer on the camera.  Lucky shot, actually.

I'll answer some other questions in another post.  Keep them coming.  I'm glad to answer what I can.  I do appreciate email addresses, though.  If you'd prefer an answer directly to you or if you'd like me to post on it, let me know.

I don't know that I'm really that interesting, but I can be creative!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Silence and PRIDE

My days of silence were refreshing, nourishing, and troubling.  You get silent for a few days, your mind stops shouting, things settle down, and deeper things emerge.  That's troubling in a good way.  I did some reading, praying, walking, sleeping.  Good stuff.

Then, I stayed with friends in Atlanta and was able to attend Saturday's PRIDE in Piedmont Park.  The rain held off long enough for me to enjoy being around a lot of really out gay people, doing things straights take for granted:  holding hands, kissing in public, just being themselves.  Exhibits, booths, supporters, organizations, and some great scenery, too!  Woof.

To read and pray and give thanks for being me, and being gay, and for grace, strength, and courage;  these are good things.  To be out and proud and encouraged by "family";  these are good things, too.

To be able to have both within the same week.  That was great!