Thursday, May 25, 2006

True Colors Shining Through

"ARE YOU DATING ANYONE?"

This is a question I got in an email from a long-lost friend. For years we attended church, enjoyed summer camp and endured school together in our rural hometown of 4,500 in Kansas. While we weren't the best of friends, I would still call him a good one.

The above question seems innocent enough but for someone like me, it's a loaded one.
Basically I have three choices a) lie and say no b) say yes and let the person assume it's with someone of the opposite sex c)come out by saying yes and start sharing my story.

I actually avoided the question before by saying "Don't worry- I'm not lonely and I'm doing fine." But then he wrote back and noted I didn't answer the question and posed it again. This email has been in my gmail account for a week now and I can't believe I'm back in this place in my life again.

This queer quandry has to with my ambivalent feelings about my sexuality and fear of rejection. Don't get me wrong, most days I'm proud of the creation God has made in me. But there are days I can't help but absorb messages from the world around me.
"It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,"
"That's so GAY,"
"The purpose of a man is to love a woman..."
"I'm sorry, the 'couple set' only applies to a man and woman couple. Please order something else from the menu."

So then I begin to be ashamed and protect myself from the hurt of possible rejection. Women, in my experience, seem more empathetic. I've also much more willing to present myself as a gay person with foreigners I meet in Korea. Those closest to me make the most daunting audience. Family, close friends, coworkers. They say things like "You aren't the person I knew." or "All this time I thought I knew you and now I don't." "Why didn't you tell me before?"

Honestly, I am ashamed of how I've behaved. I knew all about them and allowed them to know nothing about me. I've been their friend but haven't allowed them to return the favor. More than once, I have pulled away as a pre-emptive measure, if I thought friends (especially straight men) would have problems with my sexuality. More than once I've realized I was wrong to assume that my friends and family wouldn't support me and love me just as much as before. I've learned that I can have actually more in common with straight friends than I have with gay ones.

About month ago, my coworker asked me to take her and two friends to a drag queen show here in Itaewon on the infamous Homo Hill. I agreed with pleasure. Imagine our surprise when we ran into another coworker there! Unfortunately his surprise was more horrified as the first words on his lips were "Please don't tell my girlfriend!" (She's also our coworker.) He repeated this request a half dozen times before he left when the show ended.

Of course we assured him that we wouldn't "out" him because it was his private closet and doing so would inflict harm and pain. On the other hand, our complicit silence affirms that his sexuality is shameful and by extention, my own. And looking at the situation from the poor girl's point of view, she's wasting her time and could definately do better for herself.

So PRIDE doesn't just happen overnight. And I have discovered "COMING-OUT" is also a journey. It's a daily affirmation that I'm a child of God. To quote "God don't make junk." I count. I matter. I make a positive difference in this world.

I guess I better get around to answering that email now. I owe it to the both of us!

4 comments:

lena said...

Your e-mail makes a lot of sense... and at the risk of sounding cheesy, I'm proud of you for coming out & being proud. Don't assume you knew everything about others & they didn't know you. Even straight people have secrets! :) I've got some I still haven't shared with good friends & family. Sometimes it's a timing issue.
I have a good friend who is bi and scared to death to share it with anyone because of possible physical harm. I have urged him to be open & honest, but it's easy for me to take that stance since it isn't my life I'd be risking. sigh. I can't wait until everyone is accepted for who they are.

shane said...

Although i understand your reluctance to come out to me I do wonder what reaction you expected to get. We have been friends (granted not best friends) for as long as I can remember. You are a person I have a lot of admiration for and I have nothing but respect for you. We have led lives that in many ways are opposite of each other. The one common thing in both of our lives were mothers who to say the least were oppinionated. But i think they taught both of us not to judge anyone. After all of the secrets we shared in the back pew of the church I find it hard to believe you would be hesitant to share this one. I am not a person who truly likes a lot of other people, but you Dan are one of my friends and nothing will ever change that.

abogado-david said...

Amen!

Dannyboy said...

On the same day last week I read your latest blog entry and listened (for the first time) to Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn.
Her song "God Makes No Mistakes" seemed to reinforce some of the points you were making. The metaphor of the bent (not straight) tree seemed so appropriate.
-Recordstore Geek
Why, I've heard people say
Why is this tree bent
Why they don't have God enough to know
That's' the way that it was meant
why is this little baby born
all twisted and out of shape
We're not to question what he does
God makes no mistakes

Why I've heard people say
Why is my child blind
Why is that old drunk still living
When a daddy like mine is dying
our blessed father gives us life
has the power to take it away
There's no reason for what he does
God makes no mistakes

Why I've heard people say
God cannot be alive
And all the things people say
Has to be a lie
When they're down and out
And they need a hand
And their very souls at stake
If they'll call on him and just believe
God makes no mistakes