Sorry posts have been so sporadic lately, dudes and dudettes! It’s the busiest time of year at work and nobody’s paying me to do this blog full-time, ya know! Plus, we’re neck-deep (that is a saying, right? Or is it knee-deep? Or chest-deep? Or deep end of the pool?) in planning for our impending trip to Japan and holiday traveling to various theme parks …so, you know, a full plate.
But fear not, semi-loyal readers and spambots: we hath not forsaken thee! In honor of National Coming Out Day (which is a thing, I think), we’re going to jump forward a little bit in our narration of “Jeff + Lance: Secret Origin” to discuss my very own coming out story…
I was 22, and you could probably count the amount of people who I’d come out to on maybe two hands and half of a foot–and none of those phalanges were family members. Though I’m sure some psych major could Britta me and identify shame, guilt, embarrassment, and a whole slew of other underlying emotions which kept me from stepping loud and proud out of the closet, I knew my conscious mind held me back because I was just so unsure of how things would unfold if I did. There was a giant question mark in my way whenever I’d try to logically deduce what sort of outcome was in store. The uncertainty–for somebody who hates not being in control–killed me.
I’d been dating boys for a few years by the time I met Lance, but I did that awful social limbo that all half-closeted gay dudes do where you deny half of your life to the other half and vice versa, coming up with convoluted excuses for this or that to explain away what you did last weekend (“Oh, me and…a friend (yeah, a friend, that’s it!) went apple-picking together.”) I came out to my friends slowly as circumstance forced me to, not usually by choice.
That…and I don’t really like talking about myself. I mean, I do talk about myself quite a bit, but it’s mostly topical stuff…revealing heavy emotions, man, just isn’t my bag.
There came a time, though, when it became a necessity to tell my parents, and not just because Lance basically forced me to. See, I had just finished my master’s program at Penn and my parents had come down from Michigan to Philadelphia for my graduation. I was also using their car as an opportunity to move all of my stuff out of my grad dorm and into…you guessed it, Lance’s apartment, since I hadn’t secured a job yet and, without a sizable chunk of money in the bank or a demonstrable source of income, landlords wouldn’t even consider me for an apartment.
Even thinking about trying to come up with a platonic explanation of my “association” with Lance hurt my brain. There’s no logical reason why I’d ever meet Lance, a guy five years older than me who worked in a non-profit theatre who I’d be bunking up with while I found a place to live, anywhere outside of a gay bar.
Lance, too, was not-so-subtly pushing me to come out to my parents. “Are you going to tell your parents?” he would ask in a non-sequitur. “When’s the next time you’ll see them in person to tell them? TELL THEM NOWWWWWW.”
Hrm. He had a point. Between the total lack of opportunities to actually say something to my parents in person, now that we lived 800 miles away from one another, and the fact that any fake straight-guy explanation for us knowing one another would create a paradox in space-time…well, I had to tell them.
Oh, that and I guess I loved Lance and stuff at that point and I owed it to him as well. Y’know…that.
So, my parents and I packed up my belongings and were making our way over to “my friend’s” apartment, and I still hadn’t told them. My dad pulled up outside of Lance’s building, and I still hadn’t told them.
Um…you’re running out of time, dude.
“Uh, guys…there’s something I need to talk about.”
I couldn’t not say anything anymore. At least if my parents suddenly disowned me (all prior behaviors suggesting otherwise), I was already 800 miles away and could just figure stuff out then. But hopefully they’d at least let me unload my stuff before they drove off in a bigoted huff!
You know how it goes at this point: I cry (which might be what Medusa looks like), my parents are instantly and unwaveringly supportive, just wanting the best for me and mostly concerned about my safety and well-being in an intolerant world.
I realize how lucky I am. Not that somebody should ever have to consider having the full love and unconditional support of their parents as “lucky,” but that’s not how the world works, unfortunately. I am lucky.
My parents were pretty honest with me, too. “Yeah, I suppose we’ve known for awhile,” my mom said, pointing to my perhaps-too-fervent appreciation of *NSYNC as evidence in the case against my straight-hood.
We had a warm and fuzzy, “Don’t worry, we’ve got each other’s backs” family moment. It was touching!
…but, we were still in the car, out in front of Lance’s apartment. I’d waited until the last possible moment to come out to my parents; literally, I came out and 10 minutes later they were going to meet my “we’re pretty serious” boyfriend. A whirlwind of gay!
I called Lance on my cell. “Uh, hi. We’re here.”
Lance, who was upstairs in his apartment at the time, said, “You’re with your parents?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “I talked to them and they want to meet you.”
There was dead air on the other line, then a nervous laugh that only barely concealed seething hatred Lance felt for me at that moment. “You mean, RIGHT NOW?” Lance was probably upset because he didn’t have nearly enough time to prepare a proper outfit and scent medley for being introduced to my parents.
My coming-out, basically pulling off the world’s biggest band-aid, as fast as I could!
And, as Lance likes to point out, my parents ended up liking him more than me! What the hell, Mom and Dad?!