Out and proud. Very!
The remorseless acceptance of gay marriage in most of the developed world has, unsurprisingly, encouraged more and more gay people to feel safe about emerging from the the closet.
No need to hide.
For the younger generations, it seems like a natural evolution but not for Gen X and the baby boomers who, when young, either hid their gayness or were considered freaks, rebels or villains. So it's really not surprising that once they do come out, many face a number of challenges that make it even harder. Here come eight of them, accompanied by proposed solutions.
Problem 1: Lenoard and lost youth.
One of the most common feelings shared by late bloomers is a desparate need to make up for lost time. Newly out adults like David tend to act like the immature teen they never had the chance to be when they were younger. The temptation to emulate the kid in the sweetshop overwhelmed by all the delights suddenly available is irresistible. Excess in either the candy store or the gay bar yields similar results. David has finally realised that unrestrained sexual and dating conquests do not necessarily lead to a happy and healthy gay lifestyle.
Cam and Mitchell from "Modern Family".
Solution: take it slowly.
Problem 2: Graham, married and gay. It's a recipe for a lot of pain.
Many now mature men found themselves married in a heterosexual relationship to cover up the fact that they were gay, often hoping that marriage would make the gay part of themselves miraculously disappear. Sadly, the reality is often a life of overwhelming deceit and infidelity, the worst part of Graham's relationship being the shock and hurt that his wife experienced when her husband burst out of the closet. The pain, turmoil and anguish too often wreaks havoc on everyone involved.
Solution: don't linger longer in the dishonest relationship.
Problem 3: Clive and parenthood.
Usually those who tried to stay straight by getting married end up as parents. Clive was thrilled and saw it as worth being in the closet for the sake of having children. Like many gay Gen X or baby boomers, his parental duties overshadowed his decision to come out for fear of negatively impacting their children. Finally out now, how does he feel about his lost years? His less patient friend, Paul, found that as long as he gave his children love and support through his divorce and coming out, he was able to maintain his parental role and even strengthen the bond between him and his sons.
Matt Bomer, actor, his partner, Simon Halls, publicist, and family.
Solution: make honesty the bond with the children.
Problem 4 : Peter and family acceptance.
It's understandable that those emerging from the closet yearn for family acceptance. Peter, coming out in his late 30s, found it impossible for his family members to see beyond their established sense of who they thought their child, brother or sister was. Not only did his family refuse to believes that he was doing the right thing, they also felt insulted that he had been deceiving them throughout his life.Sadly, those who feel that way would generally prefer the gay person to go back into the closet, being more concerned with themselves than with their family member.
Mika. Revealing on the topic.
Solution; build a new, alternative family from your best friends.
Mika, who came out in August 2012 in his late twenties, shed some light on his decision and the need to deal with any fall-out from his Lebanese family.
‘I was scared of not being accepted by my family,’ he said. ‘No one in my family is gay. No one in my extended family is gay. It was a very foreign alien thing. You’re scared of being judged. Then you realise there is nothing to be afraid of if you are happy. I fell in love. I lost love. I got it again. I started living my life and got to a point where I was like “You know what, I’ve lived my life and never pretended to be anything else”. I’m doing this from a place of confidence and joy. So why not? Because it is important. I’m not afraid any more because I am quite happy and quite confident."
Problem 5: Julian and the In-laws.
Coming out in his forties, Julian had in-laws and extended families to contend with. Not unlike a typical divorce scenario, his in-laws, focusing on the grandchildren involved, became progressively more antagonistic. It's not good when the tensions begin to have an impact on the children.
Solution: sometimes the only option is to bid the in-laws farewell.
Problem 6: Mark, old on a young stage.
Those who are late to come out often feel they are too old for the gay scene or are not in good enough shape. Mark opted to go into overdrive by turning himself into the most ideal gay man he could be: new gym, new hair colour, new wardrobe, new music. It took a year of constant rejection before he rediscovered himself and found out that he was not alone.
Very not alone.
Solution: just recognise that there are thousands of others just like you, trying to find their way in the gay community.
Problem 7: Simon's baggage.
Just like any other divorced person, Simon found that, entering the gay world with an ex-spouse and kids, tarnished him in some eyes as one who as burdened with too much baggage. Then he began to feel that it was true. Only when he confronted the issue with his ex-wife and explored more flexible schedules for his parental visits did the problem resolve itself.
Solution: reorganise your days, feel freed up and, when possible, travel light.
The coming out challenge is most often discussed in the context of the young. See the "Related Stories" below. But the challenges for older age groups are often different, but no less real. It helps to recognise what they are. And then to realise that there are solutions, ones that, in general, become easier to access as each year goes by.
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