Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wow, He Said

I told someone I was gay the other day.

Out of the blue.

Bang! There I was saying, "You know I'm gay, right?"

His face registered shock, "You?"

"Yes, me."

I don't do this often because I don't have to - pretty much everyone knows. So it felt odd, pushing the closet door open and letting it bang shut after me again. This time, though, I came out strategically. I was just in conversation with a man with Down Syndrome who was talking with me, struggling with the fact that he was attracted to, and had kissed, another man. He thought he was in love. He was aching with pain, it was all wrong, he was dirty and sinful.

I couldn't bear watching him.

I couldn't bear remembering the pain of feeling shamed for feeling loved.

I couldn't bear watching him hurt.

So, I said, "You know I'm gay, right?"

After he expressed his shock, I asked him if he had noticed Joe - the man who was often with me. He said, immediately grasping, "Joe is gay too?" I told him that we were both gay, we both lived together, we both loved each other. I did this in the calmest most matter of fact voice that I could muster. I wanted it to be presented as if it was just another simple fact, not some big revelation.

"Wow," he said.

There was a long pause as he thought. Then he said, "I kissed a man." I nodded, knowing he wasn't done. "He's my boyfriend." His eyes flicked to mine looking for something. I said, "Joe is my boyfriend too. I kiss him too."

"Wow," he said.

We then chatted a bit and he learned that I lived a regular life, in a regular apartment and did regular things. I just did them with another man. He asked not a single question about sex, he just wanted to know about the pattern of our lives - did we have friends; did our families mind; were we happy. I asked the questions simply and honestly.

When we were done, his questions answered, I sat there and thought about this conversation and about how much I would have loved to have had it when I was a young man, I wished for such a conversation. I felt an honour, and a privilege to be in a position where I could initiate the conversation that I needed then, now. Then, as he was getting up to go he turned to me and shook his head in amazement.

"Wow," he said.


Anonymous said...

Lucky lad to have you to speak with, such reassurance about living life with the person you love.

Anonymous said...

So glad you were there when this young man needed someone to talk to him - this should not have happened to him this way. His 'people' should have dealt with this way before.

Glee said...

ah, that's a fabulous present going both ways. Am smiling madly here :D

Liz said...

I love that you were there for him.

Andrea S. said...

Ditto to what the rest have said. I think it's sad that this young man needed this kind of reassurance, but glad that such an excellent role model as yourself could be there for him as a personal example of gay couples being a natural thing and happy together.

Deb said...

thanks for being there for him when he needed the reassurance that he and what he feels are both okay. the cat is in my lap so i'm typing with one finger.

happy new year dave and joe

2 fingers for a big smile :D

Mary said...

I'm straight, but I find there's sometimes a certain degree of "wow" at the overlap of "disabled" and "in a relationship", mostly from disabled people who have formed the opinion that they are too unlovable or "difficult" or whatnot to ever be with someone.

I wonder if those elements were also a factor for this young man, who I believe was really lucky to have the opportunity to talk to someone who (forgive me for labelling) crosses over "disabled" and "in a relationship" and "gay".

I'm 99% certain it was this blog where I first encountered the idea that simply existing, quietly and calmly but visibly and in public, as a person with a difference going about daily life, is a powerful political act breaking down harmful stereotypes. That was what came to mind as I read this post and it still makes me want to cheer!

Maggie said...

As I get older, it is often my experience that something I say to a younger person is something I so much needed to hear when I was that age.

What astonishes and delights me is that, more and more often, I receive healing from having said the words, from having served as the compassionate elder guide that I once needed. As if, you know, perhaps time is recursive rather than linear.

Thanks for giving your young man the validation he so needed. Thanks for recognizing how much you would have benefited from the same conversation all those years ago.

May the inner healing of having 'heard' yourself say those words be yours, also.

Jayne Wales said...

Just so good that it was you he shared with. That will be just right at that time and lets hope the world treats him kindly too.

Becca said...

I have often wondered, since Samantha was born, what the percentage is of gay/lesbian/bisexual people with Down syndrome. When she was born, I knew nothing about Ds, assumed people with Ds were essentially "asexual," with no inclination one way or another. Of course I quickly learned that that is not true, seeing people with Ds dating, getting married... But I never heard anything about any who were gay. I hope that young man got a lot from your conversation and that he no longer feels bad for feeling that way about another man. I hope others are also comfortable enough to embrace their true sexuality in a world that already has so much difficulty in allowing so many other freedoms for them. Love this post, as always. :-)

wendy said...

I haven't even paused to read the comments yet. I'm behind on my blogs because of the holidays and just read this on January 4. Reading it, I wanted to cry. I, too, would have appreciated someone in my life when I was young to tell me that my love was okay.
The power of what you did for this man is breathtaking. What incredible good fortune that he chose you to confide in.

Anonymous said...

This conversation was as powerful as any you have had. It is very fortunate that this fellow had you to talk to. All the best to you both!

Amy JD Hernandez said...