Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Out Fridays! A Straight Man Comes Out.

After National Coming Out Day, I wrote my belated coming out story. I hope that you found it interesting. And, perhaps one day someone who is struggling with his or her sexual identity will come across my story, or the stories that others have written, and will be helped by it in some way.

Which got me to thinking, maybe Fannie's Room needs a periodic guest blogging series where others, some of you perhaps, tell your stories. In addition to possibly helping others, telling our own real stories can be an effective way for those who do not know any gay people to, hopefully, see us in a more compassionate light. Perhaps, they will come to see us, not as evil threats out to destroy marraige and steal their children, but as real people who are at times vulnerable, scared, and just as human as all of them.

Or they'll just make fun of us.

Whatever. That's fun too.

The first storyteller in this series is regular visitor John. If you've been here regularly you will recognize John as a heterosexual married man who supports marriage equality. He is also a contributor to the group blog Live, Love, and Learn. I think that it's important to recognize that, sometimes, heterosexuals (who I believe will be the key to our eventual victory for equality) have to "come out" too. Homosexuality is not yet fully accepted in our society, or in many parts of the world. And I think it is far easier to go along with the peer-pressurey crowd that ridicules, mocks, and sometimes hates gay people than it is to stand up and say "But I support marriage equality."

And, I think, it is easy for many heterosexuals to think "I don't really care about gay rights, because it doesn't really affect me." Thinking of this easy complacency, I wonder what motivates hetereosexuals to be allies in the struggle for equal rights. In John's case, there were several reasons- a major one being an embarassing display of backlash to judicial decisions affirming gay rights. But enough of me talking, here's John's story in his own words (which he also posted on Live, Love, and Learn):

"My own 'coming out' was a process that took place over many years, and it seems to involve four major steps. The first was seeing homosexuality as simply ordinary. This was easy for me, but it came about in a rather strange way.

I was raised in a very strict Roman Catholic home, which has a lot to do with why I have never viewed homosexuality as anything other than a natural variant of human sexuality.

Think about that for a moment.

I just said that I view homosexuality as a natural variant of human sexuality BECAUSE of my strict Catholic upbringing. At this point you may properly ask what it is that I am smoking. You see, when I became a young teen, I would think of sex a fair amount of the time. In fact, all I had to do was hear or read certain words and I would think of sex; words like girl, skirt, leg, outboard motor, etc. But in my Catholic home anything that could even be remotely connected to sexuality was simply never discussed. So I had to learn on my own with no input from my caregivers.

The most influential source of my education was a weekly series of magazines called, "The Story of Life". It was a 53 week series that explained in clinical but readable detail everything about human life, love, and sexuality. One issue was dedicated to "Lovers of the Same Sex", and it dealt with the issue in a frank and totally non-judgmental manner. Since this was my only real source of information, I had no reason to think that there was a judgment to be made.

It is difficult to explain why the second step should be necessary, but while I could accept homosexuality as a natural and normal variant of human sexuality, intellectually, I could not comprehend how one could feel a sexual attraction to a memeber of the same sex. I guess I still can't, really, but for some reason seeing the effects of same sex attraction helped me see just how real it is.

As a teen (or very early 20's) I, and a few friends (one of whom is a lesbian), experimented with each each other to test our responses to same and opposite sex stimulation. I doubt you'd want to hear details of such experimentation, but it was an eye-opener for me.

The third milestone was moving beyond seeing homosexuality in sexual terms and seeing it in terms of relationships.

I am ashamed to admit that until the Goodridge decision, I never gave even a moment's thought to gay relationships, especially with respect to marriage. My attitude towards Goodridge was pure indifference. It didn't affect me or my marriage in any way. My feeling was that is two people of the same sex want to marry, who the hell am I to even voice an opinion on the matter?

But then a backlash began. A petition to ban SSM by constitutional amendment was signed by enough voters to put the measure to a vote. As many as twenty states (insert real number here) passed constitutional amendments to ban SSM, and I was absolutely horrified by the rhetoric. The talk shows hosts, the religious press and even the Republican Party (that Party of cold sober realists who preach "rugged individualism" and "get the goverment of my back") became preachers of pure hate.

I had never been so disgusted by my countrymen or more ashamed of my nation.

I didn't feel like an American or a Christian anymore.

The idea that in these United States of America in 2007, that the people should vote on the civil rights of my fellow citizens has shocked me to core. And that the Party of Lincoln would lead the charge has changed me from a passive supporter to an outright activist.

And I have learned more about gay relationships; I started reading the testimonials of gay couples. I now know that gay relationships are identical to straight relationships in every pertinent way. And only then did I realize how much I take my own protections of marriage for granted.

And then there is step four.

I am a Christian. While I don't fit the mold well, as I have little use for organized religion and am somewhat agnostic in my view of Providence, I recognize that for millions, Jesus is a abundant source of comfort and provides a moral compass. It is of major importance to me to be able to show others that Jesus's message of love, tolerance and acceptance can not abide the bigotry expressed in Paul's sermons.

That final understanding of Jesus's complete and total acceptance came form my (on-line) association with the Rev. Dr. Jerry Maneker.

His blog is here:"

Thank you, John- for your story and for your support.

John brings up a good point here:

"The idea that in these United States of America in 2007, that the people should vote on the civil rights of my fellow citizens has shocked me to core."

Here, he is referring to constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage that were brought about as a response to the Massachussets judicial ruling that it was a denial of equal protection and due process for the State to deny same-sex couples from marriage.

In other words, the fundies didn't like the constitutional rules so they decided to make up new ones. Effectively, the judicial branch of government that was created specifically to a avoid tyranny of the majority was circumvented to allow tyranny of the majority. That's not democracy.

And that is something that all Americans should be ashamed of.

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