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This is an Open Thread / Coffee Hour and all topics of conversation are welcome. Today's suggested topic is open to whatever is on your mind. Or, to start the conversation lets consider our "Coming Out" moment.
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What is for dinner? How are you doing? What is on your mind. If you are new to Street Prophets please introduce yourself in a comment. This is an Open Thread and all topics of conversation are welcome. Beyond the fold let me tell you a bit about my about my "Coming Out" experience.

I always knew I knew I was different. On some level I figured it out when I was in the first grade. I determined I should be guarded about my attraction to men. And stayed guarded from then on.

It was the seventh grade when I saw first hand the hate that could be leveled against a gay man. One of the cutest boys in my PE class had one of the "jock" guys sleep over at his house. He apparently made a pass toward him and the issue spilled over into public humiliation of the cute boy in public during the PE class.  It was all verbal but the damage was done to the cute boy's reputation. The coach moved him to another class and life went on.  But, from that moment on I was even more guarded about being public about my orientation.

I went to a big school in a small town we had split sessions and over 3000 kids in our high school. Because of this there was space to hide and lots of clubs, groups, and classes to chose from. So, one could find a niche.

By the eleventh grade I was very active in extracurricular activities and I guess I was considered "popular."  And the cute boy was also involved in extracurricular activities and well liked by all. We became friends and worked on plays, dances, and fundraisers.  I was in the closet and he was out. (Perhaps because of that incident ... I never talked about it with him.)

This was the late sixtys in the San Francisco Bay Area and the environment was very liberal. But, even so I was always afraid of "coming out" and I think it was from viewing my friends public humiliation.

At community college I met the love of my life and started living with him. It just happen and thankfully not one of my friends said a word. I really do not think they even cared other than I was happy. There was no coming out moment and no drama. I lived the next 38 years openly gay.

My coming out moment was at one of our Democratic Central Committee meetings.  

I live in Vallejo and I'm president of our local Democratic Club.  Part of the job is to serve on the Central Committee. Vallejo has a large LBGT community and it has a large number of fundamentalist churches.  And, there is some contention between the two groups.

A few years ago the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement tried to gain a foot hold in my community and I had to stand up and fight for my rights with other members of the Vallejo LBGT community. Our mayor, a religious man, got cough up in it, and made a number of pubic comments about his beliefs that should have been kept private.

Very few in town and on the Democratic Central Committee knew the threat the NAR is to democracy and diversity. So, I found my self having to "come out" at meetings and in public at the age 60.  I just could not speak out genuinely about these issues without that disclosure. So, now when speaking publicly on these issues I make that disclosure and incorporate that it is personal for me.  Was I afraid, yes! All I could think of was that little boy in the seventh grade being humiliated.  I have lived with that fear all my life.

The good news is the NAR is loosing strength in Vallejo. And I would like to think it is partly due to myself and other members of our LBGT community speaking out. Also, my "coming out" was a non event for everyone but myself. All I can say is my fear is diminishing and someday I think it will be gone.

I am grateful for Daily KOS, Street Prophets, and especially Frederick Clarkson for educating me and preparing me to undertake the job of teaching my community about the NAR.

I know I have had it easy compared to the horror stories I have read on Daily KOS about how LBGT persons have been treated. But, it is my story! Would you like to share yours?

JON

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 01:06 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I Miss Donna Summer Too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, BlueJessamine

      The Donna Summer Story. Audio documentary. part 1

      BTW I got a message from Kossack DaNang65.

      DaNang; (Bob), is asking Kossacks to vote for the Purple Mountain Institute, the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that conducts the Mindful Veterans Project (MVP).

      They are competing for a free exhibition hall booth at the upcoming Netroots Nation13 Convention and need your vote.

      Hall Contest Voting Scroll down to Purple Mountain Institute and click Like.

      Purple Mountain Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
      EID# 31-1733820

      Purple Mountain Institute/Contact

      Programs

      Purple Mountain Institute (PMI) was established in 1999 with a mission to develop
      and/or deliver experiential learning programs to enhance well-being.

      Animal-facilitated programs offered to at-risk youth, veterans, and developmentally disabled participants include Hiking with Goats, Hoods in the Woods, and Horse Sense.

      In 2008 PMI launched the Mindful Veterans Project (MVP) to teach mindfulness
      skills to veterans, active duty, reserves, national guard and their immediate families, free of charge.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 12:32:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll spare everyone my sexuality story... (20+ / 0-)

    and instead relegate folks with my "Coming Out" as a theater geek.

    I've always loved theater, drama, etc.  Been doing it since I was in high school.  Never took it seriously though, and treated it as a hobby only, since...

    well, CW was "You can't make money at it".

    Fast forward 20 years and 3 failed major, one failed marriage, and 2 kids.

    I'm back at it.  LOVE it.  I wasted way too much time avoiding plays because it was a "Dying art".

    Hell with it.  Worst case scenario, there's always schlepping drinks for a living.  ;)

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 01:17:45 PM PST

  •  I'm out- -> and straight. (21+ / 0-)

    Sad story about the cute boy.

    I have been treated differently through out my life because I can be outspoken. I tell it like it is. Because I am petite and can be sweet, I get bullied even now as an adult. Life is not always easy.

    I have always stood up to bullies and always will.

    Sunny and cold here.

    Having a simple vegetable soup for dinner. Would like a peanutbutter sandwich, but I can not find the peanutbutter.

    "the Devil made me buy this dress!" Flip Wilson as Geraldine Jones

    by BlueJessamine on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 01:26:22 PM PST

  •  Hi, frustrating day installing a CAT tool, (16+ / 0-)

    (Computer Aided Translation tool, for the layperson). Such a waste of time, but I needed it for a new client. I had bought the upgrade a few months ago, but put off installing it because I knew what a pain it would be. There you go...

    I'm straight, but have had gay friends all my adult life - maybe earlier, but not consciously - starting with my late teens. I also grew up in the East Bay (Albany-Berkeley) in the 60s, hung out on Telegraph Avenue with hippies and runaways, and it was really a non-issue for me and most people I associated with, though maybe people weren't quite as comfortable with it then as nowadays. At high school it was still something you whispered - and perhaps giggled about - with your friends. I never experienced anyone coming out to me or anyone else directly, but I like to think I would have given him/her my full support.
    When I was going to grad school in New York in Performance Studies in the early 80s, several of my fellow students were gay and  AIDS was just raising its ugly head - I lost a few friends because no one really knew enough about it at the time. Heartwrenching.

    I'm glad you have had some success in warding off the NAR in Vallejo. Educating folks is key, so good for you for your efforts! Bravo.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 02:24:26 PM PST

  •  When I was about 40 (17+ / 0-)

    a long relationship ended, & after an unfortunate rebound experience I decided I'd just be alone for awhile, not press the matter & eventually another woman might come into my life. My hair was cut very short. Of course, gay men knew I wasn't gay. Occasionally, someone would ask, innocently enough, if I was concerned about anyone thinking I was gay. I said  I didn't care. I've always been private about my sex life. If I were gay, I hope I would be "out" in the same way I'm out as a hetero. Meaning I would  do nothing to hide it or advertise it. Either way, I'd  still detest bigotry. I want to live in a world where "gay pride" is obsolete.  Very slowly we're getting there. What really frightens the bigots is how quickly marriage equality ceases to be "news" wherever it is adopted.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 02:25:08 PM PST

  •  Well (17+ / 0-)

    I'm a straight woman but I did come out early as a Geek. I was 8 when I discovered science fiction and have gone my own way ever sense. I have never fit in with any on the in crowd at school or anywhere else. I really don't care. I've gotten use to Muggles thinking I'm weird. Besides it allows me to do pictures like this. ;-)

    Wizard's Tower photo WizardsTower2-2_zpsafc6e7f0.jpg

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 05:40:49 PM PST

  •  I'm straight, and have always loved the stage ... (17+ / 0-)

    ... and have always been amused by the assumption some folks make that I am gay. My attitude is, OK, I'm not, but so what? Why does it make a difference either way? I've acted (and sung) in revues and community playhouses, but I don't have the chops to go pro. I've written some plays that have been performed. But it's strictly an avocation, actually more an addiction to hearing applause. My obsession the past few years is collecting recordings of Broadway flops or historical shows that are never revived. A lot of these shows are just as good or better than the "Sounds of Music" or "My Fair Lady" type of musicals. Some are just truly bizarre, and stretch incredulity. I have close to 100 recordings of obscure musicals, most of them no longer in print. I've been surprised how many musicals, especially from 1930 to 1965 are overtly political, promoting liberalism as the future of America. I'm thinking now that might be a topic for a future diary.

    Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me, "how good, how good does it feel to be free? " And I answer them most mysteriously, "are birds free from the chains of the skyway? " (Bob Dylan)

    by JKTownsend on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 07:25:27 PM PST

  •  The spotlight on this interesting production... (9+ / 0-)

    I appreciated the diary and all the comments and it deserves more eyes.

    Two realities that I think are especially interesting.

    How an incident or incidents from childhood can have a life-long effect on the rest of our lives.  Even though we know that generally, and this wasn't one of the more devastating ones, it helps to remind us how important it is that we continue to fight against bullying.  While childish behaviors aren't controllable, the more that they are exposed and discussed in the larger society, it will definitely help mitigate and reduce their prevalence.  And sometimes awaken adults whose attitude and behaviors haven't matured.

    The other is how pervasive stereotyping has become in our society, increasing so, even among the non-bigoted.  Much of the sixties and seventies was breaking down the black/white stereotypes in more than racial awarenesses.  I think many younger people today aren't aware of how much progress was made during those years in deconstructing the engrained attitudes about gender appropriateness in almost all aspects of life from hair style to careers to emotional and intellectual feelings and relationships.

    I think what's often overlooked today is how much the Reagan years set about to stop and reverse that awakening and revive the previous binary judgments and conformity in all respects.  It was essential to achieving his agenda and why he, or his handlers, chose to ignore the emerging AID crisis, and hateful attitudes and dismissals until it grew and affected the larger society.  My disgust and anger at the man and his handlers has no adequate expression, but except for the GLBT community, it's only just sort of a footnote to his presidency. But even without that highpoint of inhumanity, he did enough damage to progress in natural gender development and acceptance for condemnation.

    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

    by blueoasis on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 11:30:30 PM PST

    •  THIS x1,000,000. *But now the knife twists.* (0+ / 0-)

      Why?  Because LIBERALS HELPED, every step of the way.  They HELPED.  Hell, sometimes they led the way.

      The process you're talking about started as far back as '75.  I remember belng a little kid and seeing a Vitalis hair-lotion commercial coming on the TV:  "These days, more and more women's heads are turning to men with shorter hair," said the offscreen announcer.  I'm pretty sure I remember it verbatim.  First thought:  "NOOOOO!".  Second thought:  "It's the Establishment counterattack!"  And what did "the progressive creative open-minded liberal class" do?  

      1.  They decided they'd better get their own nostalgia fix for the JFK era and throw hippies under the bus as a matter of damage control--a gesture of learned helplessness if I've ever seen one.

      2.  They invented punk, which was all about making getting a haircut cool and hip again.

      3.  The gay community decided that what it needed was to Boldly Break Down The Stereotype by, um, conforming as closely as possible to gender stereotypes.  Even the vast majority of the more effeminate/flamboyant gays insist on adhering to the Almighty Haircut.  

      Now I know some liberals were disheartened by some guys in the classic-rock era not really being that progressive politically.  But that was just STUPID, and I'm not even bringing my heart's ineffable desire into it.  The people who put together punk seem to have been driven by a sense that the counterculture had, in a way, won and that now the enemy was classic rock as well--not just the business, but the music and culture itself.  I don't think they realized just how many people (mostly white males) they pissed off.  I still think most of them really vote Republican out of spite for punks and post-punk hipsters of whatever stripe.  Eventually alt-culture discovered the hippies again, but that was a decade later and by then the damage had been done.

      I like--nay, insist on--my long hair and my Goth makeup and my psychedelic Spandex unitards (even though I ought to be too old to indulge), and what do we get from the creative class?  Baggy plaid knee-length shorts, crewcuts, bowling shirts, more crewcuts, and such things as the character of Dr. Rockzo from Metalocalypse (apparently to dig the grave of real male flamboyance for good).

      How TF did you people THINK things were gonna turn out?  You're actually SURPRISED when, once you make conservative signifiers cool again, conservatism itself becomes cool again?  Believe me, I understand what conservatives really mean when they talk about the "elitism" of liberals.  Having had your head blown open once doesn't actually inoculate you from a herd mentality or a provincial outlook.  I know, I know, at least it's a different herd, and that should be respected.  But my disgust and anger at the liberal sphere at the way they responded to the Reagan ascendancy is hardly less than what I feel for the conservative movement.  Now I know that just because things didn't turn out the way I wanted, that doesn't mean there's necessarily anything wrong, but from where I stand both sides have made A COMPLETE HASH of Western popular culture.

      Obviously this hasn't actually been my coming-out story--it's just My Complaint.  But that's what I have--I don't have a coming-out story.  What good would it do me to come out when there's nowhere to go?

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 05:58:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great topic, Jon! (6+ / 0-)

    Happy Monday eve to y'all. Tuesday morning here in Germany.

    I had two waves of comings out. One was when I came out as queer after I started "getting involved" with women. I shared that information with my brother, and a few close friends, and plenty of other people along the way. But there are still plenty of family and friends that continue to assume I'm a straight woman. Might have to do with the ocean between me and them ;-) and the fact that I have children.

    Lots of people assume you are straight if you have children.

    The other wave of coming out was when I came out as a transman. A bunch of folks here as DKos know about that, and all my colleagues, and many friends...

    ...but none of my family.

    For me, coming out as trans is a lot harder. A lot.

    At the same time, I also feel like it is even more imperative, since we are such a tiny minority. We need every little bit of awareness-raising and activism available.

    So when I get a few other big challenges in my life more or less squared away, I hope I'll take the road you did, Jon. I hope I get up and disclose that information in a way that helps us make progress towards acceptance and equality.

    Maybe just maybe our foremothers and our forefathers came to this land in different ships. But we're all in the same boat now. - John Lewis

    by bluesheep on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 11:46:38 PM PST

  •  My coming out to my parents is the most (10+ / 0-)

    anti-climactic, boring coming out story ever. Suffice it to say that my mother's response was "So, tell me something I don't already know: would you boys like your eggs scrambled or poached?" The "boys" were my HS boyfriend (we ended up being together for about 5 years) and myself--I don't remember where my younger brother was that Saturday morning. Not only did they know already, but when my parents moved from Houston to Chicago for my dad's job, they invited my bf to come with us so as not to split us up and we weren't even officially "out" yet! He had another year of HS and I was going off to college (he eventually followed me) in January. My mom sent him to a private arts school to finish his senior year. So there was no drama, only a radical sense of support for me and Steve. (Steve is now an activist and lobbyist for HIV/AIDS issues for the Latino/a community in Texas).

    The first person I ever came out to though was my best friend in 8th grade and into HS. When I was about 15 I came out to him. To my surprise, he came out to me too. I'll leave it up to your filthy imagination what came next. ;)

    Coming out is important. It is the central place of integrity from which we fight for our rights, it humanizes us, and provides us with a platform for educating others and disarming bigotry.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 03:14:25 AM PST

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