Opening the Closet

Personal Stories of Coming Out and Discovery

Last Updated May 12, 1998

March, 1998 April, 1998 May, 1998

March, 1998

by C. D.
I opened up the January 20, 1998 issue of the Advocate, excited at that it was the "Year In Review" issue. Soon after, this excitement dissipated and I began to shudder. I saw twice in this issue instances of biphobia, and this time in print by the gay community.

The first instance occurred in a response to a cover story on "queer rocker" Ani Difranco. The reader complained, "when touting the successes of lesbians in the media The Advocate should probably put on its cover a lesbian who's actually dating a woman". Whoa! That was a slap in the face. Does Ani Difranco not count as part of the community, simply because right now she has a boyfriend? Are her past relationships with women dismissed and she's not a part of the community? Does this mean I am not?

The second thing that threw me in this same issue was that 46% believe that "sexual orientation is fixed. If you have a falling-in-love surprise, it means you were kidding yourself before." It shocked me that the gay community which has for so long fought for free thinking and for acceptance of the fact that heterosexuality is not the only orientation, would perpetuate such a rigid belief of sexuality. Didn't the Kinsey Report, which shows sexuality on a continuum in the '50's, show anything? I believe this poll was in response to a cover story with Anne Heche, Ellen's girlfriend, who has been blasted for statements that in which she reported that she wasn't gay before meeting Ellen. Why is that so hard to believe? It is HER experience.

I must also say this has been my experience. I am Bisexual. I really had no awareness of this until I was 20 years old, really. When I began to have feelings for women it scared me and I didn't understand it...because although these feelings were very real, I knew I liked men very much. I really wasn't aware that it wasn't an EITHER/OR issue. I finally accepted my sexuality the day I met my true love, who was a woman. I haven't really debated it since. I am with a man now, and don't know if I will have a girlfriend one day, but this is irrelevant. Orientation is based more on feelings of affection and attraction rather than "behavior".

I do hope that one day I will feel acceptance within the communities, gay and straight, and that the idea of loving a person (not a man or woman) will be accepted and that people will trust me to know my own feelings. Personal acceptance is most important and I have experienced that, but it is still hurtful to not be acknowledged and accepted.

I hope that my expression has helped someone see this issue through a different scope; that everyone's experience is different. I would like to thank those who don't question what is real for me.

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April, 1998

by Anonymous Author
Have you ever wondered what makes us each in our own way gay? I have often pondered this question in relation to my own life. Have some known all their lives that they were gay? Or did some have a bad experience with the opposite sex that made them turn to their own?

Then I suppose there are those that are like me who just aren't sure how they got to be where they are right now.

While growing up, my girlfriends would notice some guy they thought was cute and I'd usually not say much of anything either way. But at the same time, I can't say that I was really attracted to women either. I guess you could say that I wasn't really interested in any type of relationship. I always saw myself as the "Tomboy" since I was the only girl in my family. Even my grandfathers bought me tractors and guns.

Then one weekend, I was playing poker with some of my male cousins and if you lost you had to show your personal parts. This was while we were all still in grade school. Well, that was harmless enough. But then another cousin older than I got wind of what we had done and held that over ;my head because he wanted to fool around and if I didn't go along with him then he would go to my folks about the other even though it really hadn't been that bad. But the guilt I felt over it and not knowing what my folks would do made me give in to his sexual abuse. The thing was that once this started it seemed to never stop until I graduated high school and went on to college. I would like to say that it never got as far as penetration but yet the emotional scars from all the heavy petting were there.

I did do some dating during my high school days. Then some during my college days. At one point in time during college, I had decided to get married but called it off once I realized that I didn't really love the guy and besides all he could seem to talk about was that he couldn't wait for the wedding night. This kind of talk really made me uneasy because I was in no way, shape or form sexually active. Even to this day I am still physically a virgin. It made me feel that maybe that was all he really wanted. There was so much relief when I called it off.

There was one guy with whom I was involved with in the heavy petting stage. I feel that I probably really was in love with him. But then I graduated college and we ended up going our own separate ways. Since then there have been a few dates here and there. And I have at times gotten into letting them get to "third base" but never have I gone for the "home run". I think that I had fallen into this pattern because I craved the attention. But this kind of attention in the long run has not done much for my current self-esteem.

I have moved around quite a bit before settling down in my current home. But I have had one friend who has been there in just about every town that I've lived in. I've known her for almost twelve years now and we've been roommates many times over the years. She has watched me and the shit I've put myself through over the years. After I had moved to my present location, I used to go back and see her quite frequently. I had known for some time and other friends had always told me that she was in love with me. Well, one night she asked me what would happen if she were to kiss me. I told her that I didn't know so she went for it and was surprised by the reaction.

Since that first kiss four years ago, we have made a life long commitment to each other. We had a commitment ceremony in May. We have bought a house together and are really beginning to build a solid life together. We are always looking to see what the future has in store for us.

I can't honestly say that I've always felt an attraction to women and even to this day I can't say that I'm really attracted to men or women. Because I guess that I feel that if I wasn't with the person I am today then I don't think that I would be with anyone. I think that I grew into the relationship with her over all the years that I have known her. It wasn't something that happened overnight nor was it an immediate attraction. It was more like I truly believe since this was a commitment that we both grew into then that it is something that will last a life time. I mean she has become such a big part of my life that I can't even begin to imagine life without her. I truly wish that every gay, straight, bi-sexual, or transgendered person were able to find the kind of true happiness and love that I have been able to find with her.

I've written this anonymously because my family still doesn't know about this relationship and to be honest with you I'm just not ready to come out of the closet yet. I'm afraid of hurting and disappointing them. Or even of having them disown me. Yet my partner's family has accepted me as a part of the family which is a good feeling. I in turn look at them as my family as well.

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May, 1998

by Chili

Is there any relationship more precarious and unsure than that of a gay woman with her father?
With my mother it was simple: "Oh, we knew that back in 10th grade; there was too much other stuff going on to worry about that." Amazing, considering all the issues of abuse, mistrust and hurtful actions and words between my mother and I, that the real uncertainty would come with my father; who I'd always viewed as a strong, stable, protective, if somewhat quiet and unobtrusive presence; in my life.
When I told my father I was moving up north to Sioux City, he said something about the fact that every time I moved, I seemed to move farther away from my family. Suddenly, I realized that he was taking that fact personally. I did my best to tell him that it had nothing to do with him; I was not trying to run away from him and Mom. I was simply trying to find a place to "be", and that I believed I had found that place with the woman I was planning on living with.
"There s more than just friendship between you, isn't there?" he asked me, and there it was. It was an opening I was reluctant to try to make myself, and I felt relieved that he had taken the initiative. "Isn't there something you can do about it?" he asked, I guess wondering if I couldn't find some treatment or therapy that would correct my condition . It was at that moment that I realized how guarded I had become in my relationship with my father. I truly didn't know how to talk to him, and I wondered how I was going to find a way to do it now, when it seemed more important than ever that I did. I explained that I had been trying to 'correct' it all my life, and just finally realized I couldn't. This was how I was, and this was how I felt about J.
Dad seemed to accept it, however reluctantly, but it became another taboo topic. To be honest, Mom asked me not to discuss it at any great depth with Dad, because she knew he was having a hard time accepting that his oldest daughter was gay. So our conversations were generic, whenever I would visit, and we seemed to dance around the subject.
When I announced that J. and I planned to have a commitment ceremony, Mom said she wasn't going to tell Dad or Grandma, and that they probably wouldn't come. That hurt a bit, but I didn't want to push the issue. I didn't want Dad to be uncomfortable, and didn't want to put him in a situation that would be uncomfortable for him. I was able to maintain that attitude until my little sister's wedding.
I thought my dad looked so handsome in his tuxedo, and I was so awed at the sight of him walking down the aisle to give my sister away, and to see him dancing with her at the reception. But as the evening wore on, a little lump started to grow in my throat. When he got up to toast my sister and her new husband, and said how proud he was of her, I lost it just a little. I realized I was not going to see my dad in a tux at my ceremony, wasn't going to dance with him. He wasn't going to be there at all. Back in our hotel room, I cried and cried in J's arms.
I love my dad, and my sister, and didn't begrudge her any of that evening. It was beautiful, and it was just what she always wanted. And I was grateful for the chance to see that side of my father, so joyful, and celebrating with the rest of us. That didn't lessen the disappointment I felt, though.
Somehow, I put it behind me, and got on with plans for our own event. We received a beautiful arrangement of flowers and a card from Mom & Dad the day before the ceremony, and they were placed front and center at our table at the reception. I did not want to forget them on my special day, even though they couldn't be there.
Since then, J. and I have spent time up with my folks, and Mom & Dad have accepted her as part of the family. She and I have never felt uncomfortable in my parents' home. I like to think, to hope, that maybe Dad has come to terms with it all. Through all the turmoil of my teenage and young adult years, I never found the courage to tell Dad I was sorry for the troubles and disappointments, even though I have done so with my mom. I've never found the courage to let him tell me how he really feels about his oldest daughter, and the choices I've made for my life. I can only tell him I love him, and give him freedom to feel and believe what he wishes, without demanding anything from him. I know he loves me, and only wants me to be happy.
I love my father with all my heart, and on this Father's Day, I only want him to know that the past doesn't matter, only the present; that we've finally found some peace as a family; that I'm grateful he never turned away from me through those rough years. We're not always going to have a perfect relationship with the ones we love; all we can do is sort through, pick out the important things, change what we can, and accept the rest gracefully, being thankful for what we have.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.

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